What does Urine Organic Acids Test for?

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A urine organic acids test (OAT), specifically tests for organic acid compounds in the urine – byproducts that are produced during daily cellular metabolism, and provides a metabolic analysis profile of a person. The test can be used to exclude the possibility of an inborn metabolism error in a person, often one of the organic acidemias.

Additionally, it can also look for problems with nutrition, or evidence of certain infections or bacterial overgrowth. Typically the conventional method of analysis is through tandem mass spectrometry (Jones and Bennett).

What does urine organic acids test for

A metabolic analysis profile

Levels of organic acids in the urine, provide an indication of insufficient cofactor micronutrients for critical enzymes, which are essential in metabolic pathways. An insufficient or dysfunctional enzyme activity in a metabolic pathway, can produce an ‘enzymatic block’, which causes organic acids that precede the block, to accumulate and spill into urine (Denis; Jones and Bennett).

Traditionally, an OAT assessment is used in neonatal and pediatric medicine, primarily to identify genetic inborn errors of metabolism. These errors can range in severity depending on the type and degree of error.

Metabolic analysis profile testing, such as an OAT, are particularly effective for patient concerns such as fatigue, weight issues/dietary guidance, digestive complaints and mood disorders. The results from a profiling, often guide the development of personalized supplementation and identification of nutrient insufficiency that could be a contributing factor for a number of complex chronic conditions.

Based on the known metabolic pathways and enzyme co-factor requirements, OAT specifically tests for and evaluates 6 key areas:

  • Metabolic Analysis Markers
    • Bacterial Dysbiosis Markers
    • Malabsorption Markers
    • Fungal/Yeast Dysbiosis Markers
  • Cellular Energy and Mitochondrial Metabolites
    • Energy Metabolism
    • Fatty Acid Metabolism
    • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Vitamin Markers
  • Tyrosine Metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Metabolites
  • Toxin and Detoxification Markers

The results that are derived from these 6 major test areas, can be used to assess the major metabolic areas and pathways in the body, that may be compromised by common day-to-day lifestyle and dietary habits. These can include:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Drug effects
  • Toxicity
  • Bacterial overgrowth

An OAT, can therefore indicate a need to restore and maintain normal functionality for:

  • Antioxidant protection
  • Diet modification
  • Specific nutrient levels
  • Detoxification
  • Other therapies

The OAT report, supplies easily interpreted and clinically actionable results. These results include a Suggested Supplement Schedule (SSS), thereby providing personalized recommendations based on the test results(Gates et al.; Kaluzna-Czaplinska).


An OAT tests a multitude of organic acids that are byproducts of daily cellular metabolism. If there is a deficiency or dysfunction in a metabolic pathway, there will be an accumulation of an organic acid, that spills into the urine. By testing for organic acid concentrations in the urine, can indicate a compromise of a major metabolic pathway that can lead to chronic conditions.

The results of an OAT can indicate a need to restore and maintain normal functionality, through a number of lifestyle and supplement changes, such as diet modification and antioxidant protection. These are derived from an SSS, that provides personalized recommendations based on the OAT test results.

Author: Alex Hammond

Alexander Hammond hold a first-class master’s degree in Ecology. He has conducted a number of international research projects in Indonesia, Belize and the UK, in the areas of Marine Biology, Terrestrial Ecology and Conservation. Several of his research reports have been published.

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