Has this ever happened to you? Your doctor tells you that all your blood work looks normal and to keep on doing what you’re doing. And you say to yourself, how can that be? I feel horrible. I can’t sleep. I’ve gained weight. I have no energy. I have no sex drive and I’m supposed to keep on doing what I’m doing?!?
The problem is that most doctors perform pretty basic labs which give a cursory overview of what’s happening on the inside. And it’s not enough. The more advanced labs I’ve listed here are what I recommend for all my clients.
These labs are crucial in pinpointing where things are beginning to go south, even though there may not be many symptoms yet. It’s called preventative care and looking for the root cause which is what Functional Medicine is all about.
The 5 Key Blood Tests To Do Every Year
1. Broad Thyroid Panel
If you’re lucky, your doctor will check one or two thyroid markers, usually TSH and/or total T4. These give you a glimpse into how the thyroid is perhaps functioning but they do NOT give a complete picture and since thyroid hormones are important to every cell it’s crucial to explore further. There are 5 additional thyroid-related values that I recommend be tested: Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, anti TPO Ab and anti-Thyroglobulin Ab.
I look for “optimal ranges” as opposed to “normal ranges” of these labs. For example, the “normal range” for TSH is generally considered 0.2 – 4.5, however, there are studies that show that the body does not function properly when TSH rises above 2.5. A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2010 even showed that the rate of miscarriage in first trimester pregnancy was almost doubled when the TSH was over 2.5.
If any of these blood test values are not optimal, I can start my clients on a program to prevent full-blown thyroid dysfunction or disease.
2. Essential Nutrients: iron/ferritin, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Magnesium
Iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium are extremely important for optimal bodily function, but they’re usually not checked at a routine primary care visit.
Many people are deficient in these nutrients for various reasons, so it’s imperative these levels are checked and supplemented if they’re not optimal. Supplementation with any of these nutrients, if low, can be completely life-altering. I’ve had countless clients tell me how seemingly magical the improvement has been for them.
Again, it’s important that we concern ourselves with getting to “optimal range” as opposed to “normal range.” In the case of vitamin D, the “normal range” can be from 30-100 nmol/l. Reviews of many scientific studies have shown optimal levels are at least 75 nmol/l.
3. Complete Metabolic Panel and Complete Blood Count
These are two blood tests that are always ordered at a primary care yearly physical and offer a lot of information. They are essential to understanding a person’s electrolyte and hydration status, kidney function, liver function, and blood cell values. These values would also tell us if someone is fighting an acute or chronic infection, has anemia, or clotting issues.
4. Metabolic Markers: Hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose and insulin, lipid panel
Metabolic markers like these are essential to understanding how a person is processing carbs and the fats they eat which is important in the prevention and management of heart disease and diabetes. In most primary care visits, a basic lipid panel and glucose level is tested yearly, and if you’re lucky you’ll also get a Hemoglobin A1c.
Having elevated blood glucose levels creates oxidation, or damage to muscle, DNA and tissues in our bodies over time, so this is a crucial value to know and optimize.
Elevation in any of these levels are a sign that your body is not processing glucose properly, which can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Inflammatory markers: hsCRP, homocysteine, ferritin
Inflammatory markers like these are almost never checked at a routine primary care visit. CRP is an inflammatory marker which can indicate your general inflammatory status. Even mild increases in hsCRP are associated with increased risk of cardiac events or depression.
An elevation can tell us there is something inflammatory happening in the body that should be addressed, whether it be from physical trauma, emotional stress, oxidative stress, environmental toxicity, gut issues, oral health, or a sedentary lifestyle (yep! Not moving is inflammatory)
Homocysteine is an amino acid that requires vitamin B12 and folate to be cleared. Elevation of this marker can indicate a multitude of things including stroke and heart disease risk, inadequate B vitamin status, inability to remove toxins and make neurotransmitters, and inability to turn off cancer genes. It’s an important marker that we try to get into optimal range by supplementing with B vitamins when necessary.
While Ferritin is a measure of your iron stores, it is also an inflammatory marker and when elevated is an indication of broad inflammation brewing.
Use this link to order these essential labs at a discounted cash price for just $397!
It’s an easy way to get the lab work that you need at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay if going through your insurance. And the lab receipt can be submitted to your insurance, towards your deductible. You may also use your HSA or FSA accounts. Order your New Year’s Resolution Lab Panel here.
Final thoughts: Having these blood tests done is an essential part of maintaining and optimizing your health. But the REAL value is in the interpretation of these tests from a healthcare practitioner who understands optimal levels which is translated into a health-enhancing plan specific to your current tests and symptoms.
I am committed to my clients achieving their optimal levels. Click here to schedule a Lab Test Consult. Together let’s interpret your labs and make a plan to move your health status up a few notches! Consults are virtual via phone or Zoom.
Also, if you’d like to find out more or would like some assistance and guidance before you order your labs, please schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me
Wishing you a healthy and joyful 2020!