A blood test is the easiest way to get an accurate picture of the body state and its functions. I am a fan of regular blood testing (1 – 2 times a year) and performing a basic body examination (ultrasound of the abdominal cavity and thyroid gland), starting from the age of 35. When I go to the doctor for check-ups, I am often met with the question “what troubles you?”. Doctors just love it when I say “nothing, just a routine examination”.
WHY TAKE A BLOOD TEST?
“Health is a personal responsibility of each individual” ©
- It is easier to prevent most diseases or treat them at an early stage than when they have already progressed.
- If you are one of those people who wind themselves up for no reason or loves to google crazy symptoms, you will find immediate peace with your blood test.
- Not all diseases “hurt”. Often something starts to “hurt” only when it has already developed into an acute form, which is difficult and not always possible to treat.
- You should always check for deficiency prior to taking supplements since an overdose of certain vitamins can be really harmful to your health. The same goes for antibiotics. Before prescribing them, it is mandatory to pass a test for resistance (sustainability) to them, because most of us are already resistant to at least 50% of antibiotics.
- Schedule regular checkups in order to have a dynamic picture of your own health.
HOW DO YOU READ A BLOOD TEST?
So, what is the norm in test results?
It is important to remember that such a norm may not necessarily be the norm for you, but simply the average for most people (and we don’t know what their health is like). The norm for you should be what is optimal for your health.
Optimal health is about your personal health and well-being, not a number on the paper in a blood test. For example, you may have “normal” thyroid hormone levels that fit within the average, but what of it if your hair is falling out or you are gaining weight like crazy? That ‘norm’ would be irrelevant to you.
KEY INDICATORS OF BLOOD TESTS – DECIPHERED.
If you are one of those people who prefer to “keep your finger on their pulse”, check out my description of the key indicators in blood tests. I also like to do a hormonal panel (female hormones and thyroid hormones) once a year.
1. BASIC BLOOD TEST
This test contains information about:
Erythrocytes (red blood cells) and Hemoglobin. This protein, which is part of erythrocytes, is responsible for saturating the cells and tissues of the body with oxygen (helps oxygen molecules to bind and transport them throughout the body) and iron, which is part of it. The optimal level for an adult man is 140-150 g / L, for a woman 135-145 g / L. A high hemoglobin can be a sign of hemochromatosis (inability of the liver to remove iron from the body), dehydration, respiratory disease, high cortisol, polycythemia, or spleen dysfunction. Increased hemoglobin is also found in people who live high above sea level. People with iron deficiency (anemia), pregnant women or those who have lost a lot of blood, people prone to swelling (edema), kidney failure, and bone marrow cancer (leukemia) also can have low hemoglobin.
MSV (mean corpuscular volume/average volume of erythrocytes). A low MSV may indicate an iron deficiency, and a high MSV may indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. 87-92 fL. is considered to be the norm.
Leukocytes (or “white blood”, from the Greek leiko – white and kytos – cell). The cells of the immune system that protect our body from infections. The rate is about 5 – 7.5 g / l. Indicators below 5 may indicate that a person’s immune system is not functioning well, or that they are eating unhealthy and are malnourished. High leukocyte counts can be caused by chronic or acute infection, smoking, high cortisol, or diabetes.
Hematocrit. This is the percentage ratio of red blood cells to the total blood volume. The optimal level for women is 39% -45%, for men – 42% – 48%. These indicators coincide with hemoglobin (decreased hemoglobin will correlate with decreased hematocrit). Two indicators can calculate anemia: a low red blood cell count, or a normal red blood cell count with a low hemoglobin level.
Thrombocytes. The norm is 230 – 400 g / l. thrombocytes are responsible for blood coagulation (clotting) and wound healing. A high thrombocyte count can be an indicator of heart disease and pre-infarction. Low thrombocyte count can cause severe bleeding from any cut or injury. Hemophilia (from ancient Greek αἷμα – “blood” and ancient Greek φιλία, here – “tendency”) is a rare hereditary disease associated with impaired coagulation (blood clotting process). The most famous carrier of this disease was Queen Victoria, who “inherited” it to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (therefore, hemophilia is called Victorian disease). Low thrombocytes can also be an indicator of low folate and vitamin B12 levels, or liver cirrhosis.
2. LIVER FUNCTION TEST
AST and ALT (liver enzymes). The norm is about 20-30 U / L. Exceeding this value may indicate damage to liver cells (chronic alcohol abuse, hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cancer, or pre-infarction state). AST and ALT may also be elevated in the case of a high-carb diet, which can lead to NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver decease).
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) can serve as an indicator of both liver function and bone health state (it affects the deposition of calcium in bone tissue). The optimal level is 42-107 U / L.
Bilirubin is a by-product of hemoglobin breakdown. It has a distinctive color and is responsible for the color of our bile and stool. Very high levels of bilirubin can change the color of the skin and the whites of the eyes (as is the case with jaundice or hepatitis). This happens when the liver work is impaired, the liver ducts become clogged, the rate of hemoglobin breakdown increases, or an enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of bilirubin is disrupted. The optimal level of bilirubin is from 0.1 to 12 μmol / L.
Albumin is a protein in the blood that is responsible for blood pressure and fluid balance in the body. It acts as a kind of vehicle for medicine, calcium, fatty acids, and heavy metals through the bloodstream. It is produced in the liver, thus, its levels may be low if the liver is not functioning well. Albumin can be low due to poor nutrition, adrenal fatigue, and excessive fluid retention. The optimal albumin level is 40-50 g / l. When albumin level is low, it stops doing its job of removing medication from the bloodstream, so it can start to accumulate in the body (this also applies to heavy metals).
3. LIPID PANEL AND CHOLESTEROL
The lipid panel includes
High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) (sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol”) are responsible for regulating total cholesterol levels in the blood and converting excess cholesterol back to the liver.
When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it begins to build up inside the walls of blood vessels, which can lead to atherosclerosis (heart disease). The arteries become much more narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart and overloading the heart muscle. Important: overly low cholesterol is also bad because cholesterol serves as a building block for many hormones and cell membranes, not to mention the brain itself, which contains 25% of all cholesterol in the body!
Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) (also sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”) can serve as a marker for cardiovascular problems, so it is important to monitor them together with Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL). The optimal LDL level should be less than 1 mmol / L and the VLDL level should be less than 0.7 mmol / L.
Triglycerides are part of LDL and are involved in the creation of “plaques” on the walls of blood vessels.
The optimal level of glucose in the blood is between 4.16 and 4.72 mmol / L. Our medicine considers a glucose level of about 5.5 to be “normal”, and diabetes is diagnosed only with glucose of 7 or more, but these figures are too high. This is a great example of when the “norm” is not really optimal for your health.
5. VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Folate (or vitamin B9) is an essential vitamin for virtually all enzyme-related processes in the body. It is needed for a healthy pregnancy and the formation of a fetus from an embryo. People with genetic mutations like MTFHR require higher levels of folate (not folic acid!), since their bodies cannot use folate as efficiently as humans without the mutation can. The optimal level is from 8 ng / ml.
B12 is responsible for many processes in the body. Adequate levels can have a positive effect on heart function, hair, skin and digestion quality. Vitamin B12 is also responsible for our mood, energy and memory. People with Tired Adrenal Syndrome should definitely pay attention to vitamin B12 levels, yet it participates in the synthesis of enzymes, DNA, hormonal balance, as well as the work of the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Low vitamin B12 levels can be a sign of poor intestinal absorption since it is absorbed only in a specific area of the small intestine. If the area is inflamed, vitamin B12 levels may be low. Even low vitamin B12 levels can be due to a vegan diet, alcoholism and smoking. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, muscle aches, problems with concentration and memory, irregular heartbeat, poor appetite, depression, or bleeding gums. The optimal level of vitamin B12 is from 550 pg / ml.
The optimal level of vitamin D is considered at 20 to 100 ng / ml. Low vitamin D level has been linked to heart disease and fragile bones. The level of vitamin D in the blood over 100 ng / ml may be an indicator of cancer development, especially pancreatic cancer.
Do you schedule regular check-ups with a doctor or take blood tests? Which indicators would you like to understand?