Michael Domeny DNP-c,FNP, MS, L.Ac, CD/N

Licensed Acupuncturist, Licensed Nutritionist,

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Fundamentals of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis

Rudolph J. Liedtke, February 1, 1998

e-mail rudyl@rjlsystems.com

How do cells work

     All living things are made of cells. Cells are membrane bounded compartments filled with a concentrated solution of chemicals and salts. Groups of cells perform specialized functions and are linked by an intricate communications system. The cell membrane maintains an ion concentration gradient between the intracellular and extracellular spaces. This gradient creates an electrical potential difference across the membrane which is essential to cell survival. Electrical gradients are necessary to support movement of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nutrients. Therefore, the cell membrane has electrically insulating qualities to maintain an electrical gradient. Damage to the cell membrane, and its functions, is as lethal to the cell as direct damage to the nucleus itself.

     In the healthy living body, the cell membrane consists of a layer of non-conductive lipid material sandwiched between two layers of conductive protein molecules. Biologically, the cell membrane functions as a permeable barrier separating the intracellular (cytoplasm) and extracellular components. The lipid membrane is transversed by proteins, which are soluble in water thus making pores through which water, ions and other chemicals can enter and exit the cell. Controlling the flow of these materials is essential to life. The cell membrane protects the interior of the cell while allowing passage of some materials to which it is permeable. The cell membrane is composed mostly of a double layer of phospholipids, arranged tail to tail along the width of the cell membrane. This structure is called the lipid bilayer and is an electrical insulator (dielectric) as all fats and oils are.

 

Phase angel

 

Normal Phase Angle

 

Males (n=93)

Females (n=96)

 

Phase Angle

Age

Phase Angle

Age

Mean

7.58

40.69

6.89

43.00

± SD

1.04

12.22

1.30

12.47

Range

5.41 - 9.89

22 - 72

2.96 - 9.76

21 - 64

 

     The average phase angle for a healthy individual is approximately 3 to 10 degrees, depending on gender. Lower phase angles appear to be consistent with low reactance and either cell death or a breakdown in the selective permeability of the cell membrane. Higher phase angles appear to be consistent with high reactance and large quantities of intact cell membranes and body cell mass.