5 Must-Have Blood Tests – Know your numbers!
article by Dr. Jane Goehner, Naturopath, Oakville
The following simple blood tests are valuable tools to assess your nutrition, metabolism and risk for chronic disease. They are an important part of preventative medicine should be included as a part of your annual check-up with your health care provider.
1. CBC – the complete blood count
This test screens for the quantity and quality of your blood cells – this is important to ensure that you have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body, a strong immune system and normal blood clotting. It is a great nutritional screen for iron deficiency, B12 and folic acid status and general health.
2. Cholesterol Panel – LDL, HDL and total cholesterol
Heart disease is the number one killer in North America – regardless of your family history it is important to know your cholesterol numbers. LDL provides cholesterol to the cells in your body and should be lower than 3.0 mmol/L, HDL is protective against heart disease as it removes cholesterol from the blood and should be above 1.0 mmol/l. How low is too low? Cholesterol, despite it’s bad rep, is the basic and essential building block of many hormones in your body. It is important to have adequate cholesterol levels to support hormone balance and mood, at total cholesterol levels less than 4 your body may struggle to perform at its best!
3. Fasting Glucose and HB1AC
A fasting glucose test will assess your blood sugar level on the day of the test, the HB1AC tells the story of your blood sugar control in the previous 2 to 3 months. Both tests are important to screen for diabetes, which has increased at a rapid rate in the last decade (even in children!). Your fasting blood sugar should be between 4.0 and 7.0 mmol/L and your HB1AC no greater than 7%.
4. CRP – C reactive Protein
CRP is a marker of inflammation in the body – this is important because we are discovering that most chronic disease (everything from heart disease to osteoporosis) is caused by unchecked inflammation. Levels should be well below 10 mg/dL for optimal health. If you have a risk of cardiovascular disease, a variant of this protein Hs-CRP is specific for indicating risk of a heart attack or stroke. Hs-CRP levels should be below 3.0 mg/L. Tip: Stress, injury or infection can all increase CRP levels, so make sure you are well at the time of testing for an accurate result.
5. Vitamin D – 25 hydroxy-D
The sunshine vitamin – one of the most important influences on our health. Adequate vitamin D levels ensure a healthy immune system, cardiovascular function, strong bones, reduce cancer risk and even influence our mood. Living at our latitude in the great white North, it is not possible for us to convert and activate Vitamin D to it’s active form through sun exposure between the months of November and April. This is the reason Vitamin D deficiency is very common, it is critical to take a vitamin D supplement daily and monitor you levels yearly to ensure they are not only adequate (over 75), but optimal (125 to 150). This is one test that you will likely have to pay out-of-pocket for – but your health is worth it!
For help with reading or proactively addressing your blood test results, please call 289-291-0254 and schedule an appointment with one of our Naturopaths.