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Stop Wasting Tears: Scientists Use Tears To Assess Vitamin Deficiencies In the Body

Update Date: Jan 16, 2017 01:15 AM EST

Tears are the liquid by-product that falls from the eyes when people become emotional. Tears also keep the eyes moist which are important for vision. However, there's more to tears that meets the eye. In a recent study, scientists use tears to assess vitamin deficiencies in the body.

Published in Experimental Eye Research, scientists from Michigan Technological University, examined the correlation of tears to blood for vitamin deficiencies. They also examined the correlation of vitamin levels between infants and parents. Vitamin levels and nutritional information and clinical data from the participants of the study were also compared.

The study establishes that human tears can be used to diagnose vitamin deficiencies in the human body. The process of getting samples would be less invasive and less complex to prepare and execute compared to taking blood samples. The researchers intend to develop devices or strips that calculate vitamin concentrations from tears samples.

Quantifiable traces of water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins were detected in tears. The number of vitamins in the tears were then compared to vitamins found in the blood sample taken. According to Maryan Khaksari, lead author of the paper, tears, as a by-product of the body, makes It a good indicator of the nutritional health of the body especially vitamins.

Tear samples and blood samples were taken from fifteen family pairs, a four-month-old infant, and one parent. The infant babies were either breastfed or bottle-fed or a combination of the two. Information about the dietary intake of both child and parent were also analyzed.

The study found that water-soluble vitamins like vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E were detected in both tears and blood samples. Fat-soluble vitamin A was detected only in the blood samples.

There is a higher concentration of water-soluble vitamins found in both tears and blood samples of the infants. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins have a higher concentration on the parents. The study noted that most mothers were nutritionally deficient compared to their infant children.

Based on the tears and blood samples, both infants and parents have high concentrations of vitamin E and displayed strong positive correlations with each other. Parents were detected to have a high concentration of vitamin B3 in both tears and blood samples.

Vitamin B3 has the highest concentration in both samples compared to vitamins B1 and B2. Similarities between infants and parents were found based on the concentrations of water-soluble vitamins in the tears sample and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood sample. Stronger correlations were found between breastfed infants and their parents.

The study is the first to demonstrate simultaneous detection of vitamins A, B, and E in quantifiable amounts of both tears and blood sample. The researchers conclude that tears are an effective alternative tool in assessing nutritional health and vitamin deficiencies in the body.

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