FAQ

What are biofactors?

Biofactors are physiological, i.e. natural and endogenous substances which are involved in the metabolism. The most important biofactors are vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fatty acids, essential amino acids and vitaminoids (vitamin- like substances). The body always has to be supplied with a sufficient quantity of biofactors so that no deficiency states occur. At higher concentrations, biofactors can possess therapeutic effects and therefore take on the character of medicines.

What are the possible causes of biofactor deficiency?

Biofactor deficiency occurs when the supply to the body does not cover requirements. This can be the case on the one hand if the diet is too one-sided, if an individual frequently goes on a diet or does not eat enough wholesome foods that are rich in vital substances such as fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereal products. But even with a balanced diet it is possible for a deficiency to occur if the body’s biofactor requirements are increased. This can happen, for example, if certain vitamins, minerals or trace elements in the gastrointestinal tract are not able to pass through the intestinal wall in sufficient quantities and reach the blood – because their absorption (resorption) is disturbed due to disease, medications, stimulants or the advanced age of the individual.
Some diseases and drugs also promote the excretion of biofactors or hinder their effects.
Furthermore, when the body is subject to high demands, for example during pregnancy, lactation, growth, stress or competitive sports, the requirements and the risk of a deficiency increase if the supply does not increase accordingly.

What are the risk groups for such a deficiency?

The risk groups for biofactor deficiency include, for example:

  • individuals who have an unbalanced diet or who go on diets which are unbalanced,
  • patients with chronic gastrointestinal disorders and who have undergone gastrointestinal surgery,
  • those who are chronically ill (e.g. with diabetes, tumours, high blood pressure or renal insufficiency),
  • patients who regularly take medications which impair the biofactor balance,
  • elderly individuals (due to the disturbed absorption and utilisation of nutrients as a result of their age or the medications they are taking), children and adolescents (growth),
  • people who consume large quantities of stimulants - e.g. alcohol,
  • pregnant and lactating women,
  • competitive athletes,
  • chronically stressed individuals.

How can a deficiency be diagnosed?

The first step is a suspected deficiency: if deficiency symptoms occur or if there is an increased risk of a deficiency, the supply of essential vitamins, minerals or trace elements to the body may be insufficient. In order to assess your risk, you should first of all take a critical look at your eating habits: is your diet varied and balanced? Do you regularly eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grain cereals, dairy products and fish and meat occasionally? Do you use high-quality vegetable oils? Furthermore, you should check whether you are taking medications (read the package leaflet) or suffer from illnesses which increase your vitamin or mineral requirements.
Our service offerings on this website will make it easier for you to carry out your personal risk check: here you can find information, for example, about deficiency symptoms, a biofactor check, which checks your diet and personal risk factors, as well as an overview of medications which can negatively affect the supply of biofactors, the vitamin depleter overview.
Finally, a suspected deficiency can also be checked by means of a blood test, in which the concentration of the biofactors in question is measured in the blood. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist!

Is it possible that even a subclinical deficiency which does not cause any symptoms can be harmful to health over the long term?

If typical deficiency symptoms occur, usually a considerable deficit of a particular nutrient is already present. But even a deficiency which does not cause any symptoms can be harmful to health over the long term and promote chronically degenerative diseases. For example, an insufficient supply of calcium, vitamin D or magnesium can promote the development of osteoporosis (“bone loss”). Or a magnesium deficiency increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Can a balanced, nutritious diet guarantee a sufficient supply of all vitamins, minerals and trace elements?

Only to a certain degree. Even a healthy diet that is rich in biofactors can come up against its limits if chronic diseases, medications or stress increase the biofactor requirements. This becomes all the more critical if these risk groups also have an unbalanced diet.

Are multivitamin products a good idea?

In principle, a varied mixed diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread dairy products, vegetable oils and occasionally fish and meat contains a balanced “multi-vitamin mixture”. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances the supply of specific biofactors may be insufficient (see Deficiency).
The Society for Biofactors advises that the vitamins should be specifically supplemented for which there is a deficiency or an increased risk of deficiency. Supplementation in accordance with the scattergun approach is not expedient here. Vitamin combinations may be appropriate if they are specifically adapted to the requirements of certain risk groups, such as vitamins for diabetics or combination products for bone formation.

Is it possible to overdose on biofactors?

It is also true for vitamins and minerals that too much of a good thing can have negative effects. In the case of very high dosages, which are not permitted in German products, it is important to be cautious. And: before vitamin and mineral preparations are taken, it is important to read the package leaflet beforehand and to follow the dosage recommendation.
Here you will also find, for example, information about when corresponding preparations should not be taken. For example, magnesium preparations should only be taken in the case of serious kidney diseases after consulting a nephrologist (specialist in kidney diseases), as the excretion process may be disturbed and too much of the mineral then accumulates in the body as a result. Under normal circumstances, any excess is excreted via the kidneys. In other cases, high magnesium doses may cause severe diarrhoea, which can be avoided by reducing the dose.
If after taking biofactors you believe that you have symptoms of an overdose or intolerance that persist for a considerable time you should consult your doctor or pharmacist.

For further information, please see:
www.efsa.europa.eu/en/ndatopics/docs/ndatolerableuil.pdf