What should you look for when getting your blood tested?
A blood test can tell you a lot about your health. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the data for accurate diagnosis and health management is in your blood, and this data is important not only for treating disease, but for overall health and wellness.
So which blood tests are critical for you to take? We gathered the evidence here to help you plan for your doctor visits in the coming year.
Blood Tests and Desirable Results
Though we’re talking about a number of lab tests here, these can all be done off one simple blood draw. In other words, you need take only one actual blood test, and then just ask the doctor to be sure the laboratory technicians check the following levels.
Lipids: These are the fats in your body. Measuring the lipids in your blood tells you cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which both have an impact on the health of your heart. You need to fast before this test for about twelve hours. Results total cholesterol: Low risk: < 200 mg/dL. (Desirable is 150 or less.) Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL. High: >240 mg/dL. Results LDL “bad” cholesterol: Low risk: < 100 mg/dL. (Optimal is < 79.) Near optimal: 100-129 mg/dL. Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL. High: 160-189 mg/dL. Very high: > 190 mg/dL. Results HDL cholesterol: Poor: < 40 mg/dL (men), < 50 mg/dL (women). Better: 50-59 mg/dL. Best: 60 mg/dL and above. Results triglycerides: Desirable: < 100 mg/dL. (Optimal is < 50.) Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL. High: 200-499 mg/dL. Very high: > 500 mg/dL.
C-reactive protein (CRP): This is a measure of the inflammation in your body. Recent studies have found that inflammation is key to the progression of many diseases, including coronary artery disease, infection, inflammatory arthritis, lupus, and pelvic inflammatory disease. The test won’t tell you what’s causing the inflammation—only reveal the presence of inflammation in the body.Results: Low risk: < 1.0 mg/L. Average risk: 1.0–3.0 mg/L. High risk: > 3.0 mg/L.
Fibrinogen: This is an important contributor to blood clotting, but if levels are high, it can indicate inflammation. High levels can also point to potential heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney inflammation. Results: Normal: 193-423 mg/dL. Optimal: 295-369 mg/dL.
Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): This measures the status of your kidneys, liver and ecotrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as all of your blood sugar and blood proteins. It’s a quick snapshot of your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. Results show levels of your sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, carbon dioxide, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. Normal results: Normal levels are as follows. Albumin: 3.9-5.0 g/dL. Alkaline phosphatase: 44-147 IU/L. ALT: 8-37 IU/L. AST: 10-34 IU/L. BUN (blood urea nitrogen): 7-20 mg/dL. Calcium: 8.5-10.9 mg/dL. Chloride: 96-106 mmol/L. CO2: 20-29 mmol/L. Creatinine: 0.8-1.4 mg/dL. Glucose: 100 mg/dL. Potassium: 3.7-5.2 mEq/L. Sodium: 136-144 mEq/L. Bilirubin: 0.2-1.9 mg/dL. Protein: 6.3-7.9 g/dL.
Complete blood cell count (CBC): This measures your concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. This helps the doctor check for things like anemia, infection, and other potential health problems behind symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and bruising. It can also indicate the presence of blood cancers. Normal results: Red blood cells: 4.32-5.72 trillion cells/L (men), 3.90-5.03 trillion cells/L (women). Hemoglobin: 13.5-17.5 grams/dL (men), 12.0-15.5 grams/dL (women). Hematocrit: 38.8-50.0 percent (men), 34.9-44.5 percent (women). White blood cells: 3.5-10.5 billion cells/L. Platelets: 150-450 billion/L.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH): This is the test that checks the function of your thyroid, and how well it’s doing at producing hormones. The results can help a doctor diagnose hypothyroidism (where the thyroid is underperforming), which can cause symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, constipation, and hair loss. It can also illuminate hyperthyroidism (where the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone), which can cause heart and bone problems. Normal levels: 0.4-4.0 mlU/L. Desirable: 3.5 mlU/L or less.
Hemoglobin A1C: This test is used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes, or to gauge how we’ll you’re managing your disease. It shows your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. More specifically, it measures what percentage of your hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) is coated with sugar. The higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes. Results: Normal: 4.8-5.6 percent. Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4 percent. Diabetes: > 6.4 percent.
Vitamin D: This test is specifically important as you get older, as a deficiency in vitamin D can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Results: Best: > 39-74 ng/mL. (Optimal 60-80.)
Homocysteine: This test measures the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. It helps identify deficiencies in vitamin B12 or folic acid. High levels can indicate risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Results: Best: < 7.0 umol/L. (Optimal is < 6.0.) Normal: 4.3-15.3 umol/L (men), 3.3-11.6 umol/L (women).
PSA test: This test can indicate high levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood, which can indicate the presence of cancer cells, a benign enlargement of the prostate gland, an infection of the prostate glance, or inflammation. A high level does not mean you have prostate cancer, but can be an indicator of overall prostate health. Checking for changes from year to year is best.Results: Best: 1.0-4.0 ng/mL. (Read more on Dr. Williams’ post, “How About a National Campaign on Prostate Health?”)
For more detailed information on blood testing and to find out what diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes are right for you, see our Blood Test Blueprint.
Have you taken these blood tests? Did you discover health problems as a result? Please share your story.
COLLEEN M. STORY
Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 15 years. Her specialty is in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, web copy, newsletters, research-based projects and more.
Colleen is a self-described health nut, and understands from experience that “junk” foods and lack of sleep lead to fuzzy thinking, which isn’t helpful when facing project deadlines! She enjoys interviewing top scientific researchers, alternative medicine gurus, and cancer survivors from all over the nation who have overcome great challenges to find new purpose and vitality in life. In telling their stories and sharing their insights, she feels a sense of belonging in a wider community of individuals who seek to experience life in the most vibrant way possible.
Colleen’s fiction writing has won numerous awards, with her pieces appearing in Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother’s Soul, the Arizona Literary Magazine, Country Extra, and more. She lives in Idaho where she enjoys teaching French horn students, taking walks with her German Shepherd, and watching for moose, wolves, and swans, all of which stop by now and then.www.colleenmstory.com
Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today. Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies. In fact, our five-year long research project on this sacred plant has revealed over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, as well as 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects. This entire database of 1,585 ncbi-hyperlinked turmeric abstracts can be downloaded as a PDF at our Downloadable Turmeric Document page, and acquired either as a retail item or with 200 GMI-tokens, for those of you who are already are members and receive them automatically each month.
Given the sheer density of research performed on this remarkable spice, it is no wonder that a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including:
Lipitor/Atorvastatin(cholesterol medication): A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids from Turmeric compared favorably to the drug atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor) on endothelial dysfunction, the underlying pathology of the blood vessels that drives atherosclerosis, in association with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients. [i] [For addition curcumin and ‘high cholesterol’ research – 8 abstracts]
Corticosteroids (steroid medications): A 1999 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the saffron colored pigment known as curcumin, compared favorably to steroids in the management of chronic anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease.[ii] A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone in the animal model as an alternative therapy for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury by down-regulating inflammatory genes.[iii] An earlier 2003 study published in Cancer Letters found the same drug also compared favorably to dexamethasone in a lung ischaemia-repurfusion injury model.[iv] [for additional curcumin and inflammation research – 52 abstracts]
Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine (antidepressants): A 2011 study published in the journalActa Poloniae Pharmaceutica found that curcumin compared favorably to both drugs in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.[v] [for additional curcumin and depression research – 5 abstracts]
Aspirin (blood thinner): A 1986 in vitro and ex vivo study published in the journalArzneimittelforschung found that curcumin has anti-platelet and prostacyclin modulating effects compared to aspirin, indicating it may have value in patients prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.[vi] [for additional curcumin and anti-platelet research]
Anti-inflammatory Drugs: A 2004 study published in the journal Oncogene found that curcumin (as well as resveratrol) were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.[vii][for additional curcumin and anti-proliferative research – 15 abstracts]
Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug): A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that curcumin compares favorably with oxaliplatin as an antiproliferative agenet in colorectal cell lines.[viii] [for additional curcumin and colorectal cancer research – 52 abstracts]
Metformin (diabetes drug): A 2009 study published in the journal Biochemitry and Biophysical Research Community explored how curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes, finding that it activates AMPK (which increases glucose uptake) and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression (which suppresses glucose production in the liver) in hepatoma cells. Interestingly, they found curcumin to be 500 times to 100,000 times (in the form known as tetrahydrocurcuminoids(THC)) more potent than metformin in activating AMPK and its downstream target acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). [ix]
Healthy living goes beyond just eating right. Household cleaning and personal care products also have a significant impact on our health and that of our families. Many products are loaded with chemicals and toxins that we breathe in or are readily absorbed through our skin. Come learn about clean, green living with holistic health coach, Julie Cerrato, to benefit yourself and the environment! In this class, you will discover incredible tips to go “green” for you and your family’s health and for reducing the environmental impact in your home. With in class demonstrations, you’ll learn what steps you can take on your path to “Clean Green Living” for a holistic household & personal care, how to choose safer products, and some easy, effective homemade DIY solutions. Join us and go clean, green today!Instructor: Julie Cerrato