"Our goal was to seek the viability of establishing measurable units of tears for nutritional assessments,” Khaksari says. "Your body cannot manufacture vitamins, and vitamins reflect available food sources in your body. That's what makes them good indicators of nutritional health."
The researchers are working towards inexpensive, tear-based microfluidic devices or strips to improve access to nutritional tests, especially for at-risk populations.
Credit: Sarah Bird, Michigan Tech
As the authors write, nutritional deficiencies are most often treated by symptoms, "however, symptom-presentation substantially lags behind the chemical level deficiency."
In children that damage can have lifelong effects, which is part of the reason Khaksari collaborated with a medical and analysis at UP Health System – Portage and Michigan Tech. They focused on babies with a 100 percent liquid diet of formula or breastmilk to understand the connection between parent nutrition and infant nutrition. Also, nutritional data gleaned from the parents help reveal the family's access to healthy foods.
"Since tears contain vitamins," she says, "they might have real potential to replace other clinical tests."
Contacts and sources:
Michigan Technological University