Things get missed in blood work because doctors are looking for what can be diagnosed, not what needs to be optimized. Things also get missed because the right blood tests aren’t getting ordered – usually because insurance won’t cover them.
It’s a frustrating situation, but when you know better you can get better care.
In this post I’m going to cover the blood lab tests that aren’t included in basic blood work panels that should be…
a.k.a…. the labs that it blows my mind are not standard because they can save lives, prevent disease, and dramatically improve quality of life…
Blood Work That Should Be Standard in Annual Blood Lab Testing
If this one test was included in standard blood work, we’d stop diabetes, pre-diabetes, pre-pre-pre-diabetes in its tracks.
That’s because long before glucose levels go up, even up to 10 years before that happens, insulin goes up first.
Insulin is a metabolic hormone that regulates how glucose gets used for fuel. It’s the literal key that unlocks the door that lets sugar (glucose) into the cell for fuel.
The pancreas will continue to put our more insulin to try to drive more glucose into the cell. Eventually though the cell can’t take anymore, and it resists.
Insulin goes up on the test and you’ve got insulin resistance at the cell.
The earlier this whole dis-ease process is caught, the easier it is to reverse. And it makes type 2 diabetes a 100 percent preventable disease.
When this amino acid by-product of the methylation cycle (think detox, glutathione production, DNA protection) is elevated, it’s a sign of a block in the cycle, which can translate to impaired detoxification, nutrient insufficiencies, inflammation, and even increased risk of heart disease.
High homocysteine levels can be inflammatory and a contributing factor for atherosclerosis.
I like to check homocysteine to get insight into B vitamin levels, inflammation, and potential for impairments in detox.
A liver enzyme like ALT and AST, GGT is usually the first to elevate when there’s a problem. It can also serve as a warning of low B6 levels when low (in first quartile) and get this —
You know what’s the No. 1 lab marker associated with type 2 diabetes risk?
Subclinically elevated levels of GGT.
GGT elevates when the body is in need of more glutathione (a.k.a. antioxidants), likely due to a higher toxic burden (read: toxin exposure, heavy metals, etc.).
Key takeaway: the liver is a main orchestrator of metabolic function and blood sugar control.
Full thyroid panel
Ask about your thyroid and most doctors will only test TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
The problem with only testing TSH is it’s a hormone that’s made in the brain. It’s telling you how satisfied the brain is with the level of thyroid hormone, not the rest of the body.
The other problem with it is it has a HUGE reference range (-.45-4.5 mU/L).
With functional medicine, we consider 0.5-2.0 to be optimal. Because even within the typical reference range, and even in the optimal range, thyroid hormone can be clinically (below range) or subclinically low (low in range).
And much more ideally want to consider a full thyorid panel that includes Total T4, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO and Tg antibodies.
Something to be aware of is an alarming rise in activation of TPO And Tg antibodies in our post COVID world. Another reason everyone should have their full thyroid panel checked.
Last but not least…
Depending on the client, I’ll test certain nutrient levels to get info on the immune system, digestion, and more.
These include B12, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin A, folate, selenium, iron (and ferritin), copper (and ceruloplasmin).
Even better, getting certain nutrients like magnesium and zinc in red blood cell (RBC) form can be extra insightful so you know what’s actually making it inside the cell where it’s doing it’s job.
After all, it’s like the saying goes… you are what you eat, digest, absorb and get past the cell membrane.
You can be eating all the right things, but the questions is are you absorbing them? These tests will tell you.
Depending on your doctor, getting these labs from their office can be a challenge…
More on that next week when I’ll tell you the best way to go about requesting these or any other labs from your doctor, and other options for testing.
Ready to figure out what’s really going on so you can feel like yourself again?
Before we meet, I’ll go through your complete health history and connect the dots. Then we sit down together and go through a plan to get you on your way back to feeling like yourself.
At the end of our 90 minutes together you’ll know exactly what to do to get started.
Note: As a health coach I am not qualified to diagnosis or treat. The way I work with labs is as an educator, helping you learn to read them for yourself, identify patterns, and underlying dynamics that can be contributing factors in your health and how to, with diet and lifestyle changes, effect those pattens and dynamics in order to improve your health and increase your vitality.
The content in this post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice.