Diagnostic lab testing is a key component to Functional Medicine. While we do put emphasis on current symptoms and a detailed health history, labs are a way for us to take a deeper dive in your health while focusing on longevity, disease prevention (or management), optimization, and improving your overall quality of life.
Here are 10 labs that we think everyone needs checked and WHY:
Vitamin D deficiency is far too common with roughly 42% of US adults deficient. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally found in some food including fish (especially the skin), liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, dairy, and cheese; however the majority of our vitamin D is synthesized through our skin from the sun and/or supplementation. Vitamin D is a key nutrient that may help with PCOS, Autoimmune Disease, inflammation, anxiety/mood, liver health, cancer prevention, and influenza and other viruses. While the “normal” range is 30-100, our optimal is between 60-80.
CRP is a vague marker of inflammation in the body. This marker is critical to your overall health as inflammation is the root of many diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes mellitus, cancer, autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Lupus, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Hashimotos Thyroidits. Recently (depending on the lab you use), the reference range for CRP quantitative expanded from 0-5 to 0-10. Our goal is to keep all of our patients CRP < 1.
Depending on the source you read, magnesium deficiencies are seen in 50-80% of US adults and is often missed due to minimal testing. Magnesium is a relaxing and calming mineral that helps with over 300 biochemical processes in the body including nerve health, muscle health, heart health, and hormone balance (specifically thyroid levels). Magnesium is naturally found in foods such as pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, avocado, and nuts. At STAT Wellness, we like to check magnesium RBC which is intracellular magnesium found inside your red blood cells. If you struggle with restless legs, headaches, constipation, muscle tension, cramps, and thyroid imbalances, you need to get your magnesium RBC levels checked.
This hormone is essential for life. Insulin helps push blood sugar or glucose into your cell to be used for energy. However, elevated fasting insulin can make it harder to lose weight, worsen inflammation, and increase cancer risk. Insulin has a wide reference range with “normal” being between 0-24.9; while our optimal is < 7.5.
Your fight or flight hormone. Cortisol is highest in the morning and gradually lowers throughout the day. You want high cortisol in the morning to help you wake up and take on the day. Ideally, you have low cortisol at night to support a good nights rest. While we can check morning cortisol levels through standard lab testing, we prefer to check cortisol at four points throughout the day to assess for high or low levels at inappropriate times. Too much cortisol can cause weight gain, anxiety, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, irritability, elevated blood sugar, insomnia, brain fog and focus issues. While too little cortisol can cause fatigue, low blood pressure, depression, weight loss, irritability, and lack of motivation. See a sample report here.
This is a hormone primarily produced by the adrenal glands. While this is an androgen hormone, similar to testosterone, it is important in both males and females for a healthy immune system, mood, connective tissue, lean muscle mass, libido, and energy. Balance is key as too much DHEA can cause acne, unwanted body hair, hair loss on head, body odor changes, and oily skin. The reference range varies from males and females and throughout the lifespan. At STAT Wellness, we work with each patient to help identify their “optimal” levels.
Homocysteine is a dangerous amino acid in the body that when elevated indicates inflammation and heart disease. In Functional Medicine, we like to monitor homocysteine to determine how your methylation cycle is working as well. When elevated, you may want to check MTHFR and other methylation “SNPs” or single nucleotide polymorphisms to further evaluate your genetic risk (am I speaking gibberish yet?). However, the fix is typically as easy as making sure you have optimal methyl donors such as folate (methyltetrahydrofolate), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (methylcobalamin), choline, betaine, and SAM-e.
Lipoprotein Particle Size
A more comprehensive way to assess your cholesterol and cardiovascular risk. If you have a family history of heart disease, this is an important test to do. Traditional cholesterol testing, looks at the total LDL cholesterol or lousy cholesterol but does not look at total number of particles or whether it is small/dense or light/fluffy. Small LDL particles are more dangerous and can increase your risk of heart disease. This is an easy test to run through your standard lab, but is not done enough.
An essential mineral that helps with hormone balance (especially testosterone and thyroid levels), a healthy immune system, senses of smell and taste, acne, and cognition/memory. Zinc is naturally found in foods such as oyster, legumes/beans, beef, eggs, nuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains.
Most of us eat three meals per day and rarely do we rotate foods as much as we should. Once we figure out a breakfast or lunch we like, we tend to eat the same thing over and over again. For this reason, plus an unhealthy gut and the way our food industry processes food, we are seeing more food sensitivities. These sensitivities can cause a variety of symptoms including inflammation, joint pain, bloating, brain fog/focus issues, skin rashes, fatigue and more. Food sensitivities are hard to identify on your own because they are a delayed immune response (IgG and IgA reaction) which is why we like to test for them through blood work. See sample report here.
Have you heard recently that the “gut is the gateway to your health” or as Hippocrates says “all disease begins in the gut”, well in Functional Medicine gut health is important for overall health. We know that 75% of your immune system stems from there, 90% of our happy neurotransmitter, serotonin is made there, and it helps with nutritional absorption and detoxification. This stool test is a comprehensive analysis of your gut microbiome, pancreatic function and absorption of fat/protein, inflammation, parasites, and more. See sample report here.
Optimal health is essential for your quality of life, longevity, and disease prevention. We know it can be complex to navigate and that is why we are here for you. If you want to take a deeper dive in your health to make sure your levels are optimal and not just “normal”, we would love to work with you.
In good health (ALWAYS),