Have you ever wondered if you’re missing something when it comes to your health? Perhaps you can’t seem to overcome a certain health issue despite trying everything. Or maybe you feel healthy enough, but want to make sure you’re preventing disease and giving your body the best chance to function optimally.
Either way, understanding your body better is the first step to a truly healthy life. But how do we know what’s really going on inside?
We ask your blood.
Believe it or not, your blood contains incredibly useful information as to how well your body is functioning and where you can improve. Blood tests give a clear and specific picture of your health so you can take steps in the right direction.
A single drop of blood contains a vast amount of information. Let’s use that information to our advantage! Here we’ll learn more about how blood work can help you give your body what it really needs and some of the most useful tests to consider.
Blood: The Roadmap to Health
Blood is one of our most vital resources. It hydrates, lubricates, and nourishes every cell in the body. It also provides priceless information for how we can target specific imbalances or diseases.
Blood tests are typically ordered by a doctor or healthcare provider to check or rule out certain diseases based on your symptoms. Specific blood tests allow your doctor to assess the functioning of your organ systems, such as your kidneys, heart, liver, or reproductive system.
While they are typically ordered when something feels “off,” blood tests can also be used preventatively. Your healthcare provider may offer a test to catch minor issues or ensure your body is getting all the support it needs to stay healthy. They may also be used to monitor progress during a treatment program, special diet, or even general lifestyle changes.
When you have a clear picture of what’s going on inside your body, you can make better choices and address issues before they become serious.
How Does a Blood Test Work?
Interested in hearing what your blood has to say? Thankfully, learning from your blood work is a simple and easy process.
Most blood tests need to be ordered by your doctor or functional medicine practitioner. They’ll usually recommend these based on your symptoms or complaints, but you can always ask for a specific blood test if you have a particular concern.
Once you’re ready for your blood test, your healthcare provider will draw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm (or prick your finger). From there, the blood sample is sent to a lab for testing. You can usually expect to receive results within a few days or weeks.
It’s important to remember that while blood tests are an extremely helpful tool, they are not used alone to diagnose a disease or offer recommendations. You and your doctor will consider your symptoms, lifestyle, and other diagnostic factors to decide upon the best health program for you.
Key Blood Tests for Health
There is a wide range of blood tests to consider, each with its own focus and purposes. Here are the most common tests your healthcare might choose or recommend:
The most common and basic blood tests involve a range of factors that show the health of your blood and cardiovascular system. This is often part of a routine check-up or may be used if there are potential heart or kidney concerns.
CBC (complete blood count): This tests the number of total blood cells (red, white, and platelets), your hemoglobin levels, and other factors related to the health of your blood itself.
Blood chemistry: Blood chemistry or basic metabolic panel tests the chemicals found in your blood and plasma. This tests for blood glucose, electrolytes, calcium, blood urea nitrogen, and creatine.
Blood enzymes: Blood enzymes such as creatine kinase and troponin can indicate a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.
Lipoproteins: A lipoprotein panel assesses your risk for heart disease by checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Blood clotting: Too much clotting can lead to heart disease and too little puts you at risk of excessive bleeding. This test checks the clotting proteins in your blood to ensure your blood is clotting at a normal rate.
Bottom line: A general blood panel can offer basic information about the health of your blood and cardiovascular system. This can be a good place to start if you are looking to add strategic supplements to improve your overall well-being.
Comprehensive Metabolic Profile or Chem-14
A metabolic profile contains a range of tests that checks the functioning of your kidneys and liver, while also monitoring your blood pressure and the risk for diabetes. Here are the common tests included in a comprehensive metabolic profile:
Glucose: We need glucose for energy, but unstable glucose levels can cause issues with insulin resistance and diabetes.
Calcium: Calcium is an essential mineral and proper levels are required for many body functions.
Albumin: This is the main protein found in the blood. It is made by the liver and can offer information about the health of the liver.
Total protein test: this measures albumin and other blood proteins to ensure there are sufficient resources for the body to stay healthy.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes are minerals and salts that are required to ensure the body’s cells get the nutrients they need and that waste materials are removed. They also maintain a healthy pH balance. Sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and chloride are most commonly tested.
Blood urea nitrogen: BUN tests indicate how much waste is being filtered by the kidneys. High BUN levels can indicate a problem in the kidney system.
Creatinine: Creatine is a waste product excreted by the muscles. Because the kidneys filter this out from the blood, high levels of blood creatine show that kidney function is poor.
Alkaline phosphatase: ALP is an enzyme found in liver and bone tissue. When levels are high, there may be bone or liver disease.
Alanine aminotransferase: This enzyme indicates potential liver damage.
Aspartate aminotransferase: This enzyme indicates potential liver damage.
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is produced when heme (from hemoglobin) is broken down. High levels of bilirubin indicate poor liver function.
Bottom line: If you’d like a comprehensive picture of your health, consider a Chem-14 blood panel. This is particularly important to check the functioning of your main organ systems and rule out any serious health concerns.
A thyroid panel is a commonly ordered blood test due to the wide range of influence the thyroid has on our overall health. In many instances, health issues can be directly linked back to thyroid imbalances.
Free T3: Free T3 is the active form of triiodothyronine and is used to gauge the function of the thyroid and pituitary. High levels can indicate hyperthyroidism, while low levels indicate hypothyroidism.
Free T4: This is the active form of T4 (or thyroxine) and is used to gauge the function of the thyroid and pituitary. High levels can indicate hyperthyroidism, while low levels indicate hypothyroidism.
TSH: Thyroid-stimulating hormone measures the function of your thyroid gland. High levels of TSH indicate that the thyroid is underperforming, requiring more stimulation to create the necessary amounts of thyroid hormones.
TPO and TG antibodies: Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) or thyroglobulin (TG) antibodies in the blood show that there may be an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease.
- Reverse T3: Reverse T3 is created when T4 is metabolized. It can be used as an additional diagnostic test for serious illness or thyroid dysfunction.
Bottom line: Use a thyroid hormone panel if you’re struggling with sleep, metabolism, energy, fertility, or simply feel “off.”
Male/Female Hormone Profile
A sex-specific hormone panel can be used to determine your reproductive health, fertility, or the presence of other health issues.
Estradiol: This is the most active form of estrogen and fluctuates with ovulation, conception, and through pregnancy. Low levels of estradiol can signal the onset of menopause.
Testosterone: Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is higher in men than women. Low testosterone levels in men or high testosterone levels in women can indicate hormonal balance.
Progesterone: Progesterone is a steroid that prepares the body for pregnancy. Levels can be checked to determine if pregnancy has occurred.
DHEA: DHEA is an adrenal hormone that helps maintain the growth and development of the body. Low levels can be seen with long bouts of stress or trauma.
DHT: Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone present in male pattern baldness and prostate issues.
FSH: In women, follicle-stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in order to stimulate the production of follicles in the ovaries. In men, FHS stimulates the production of sperm. A high FSH in women indicates poor ovarian function.
Prolactin: Prolactin levels should be elevated in pregnancy, but not at other times. High prolactin levels can indicate hypothyroidism, a tumor on the pituitary gland, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and other potential issues.
SHBG: Sex-hormone-binding globulin is a protein that binds to testosterone. Low levels of SHBG can cause hormone imbalances in both men and women.
Cortisol: Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and either too-high or too-low levels can indicate issues with the adrenal or pituitary glands. Cortisol can also affect the levels of other sex hormones.
- Thyroid profile: Thyroid hormones (Free T3, Free T4, TPO antibodies, TG antibodies, TSH, and Reverse T3) are also important to test when checking reproductive hormones as the thyroid and pituitary glands also regulate fertility and reproductive health.
Bottom line: Use a sex hormone panel to see where your hormone levels are off. Then, make adjustments based on your results to keep your hormones in check.
Other Common Blood Tests
Your doctor or healthcare provider may order other blood tests depending on your symptoms or health condition. Here are a few other blood tests you may encounter:
GGT: The gamma-glutamyl transferase test checks for liver or bile duct disease. It is most often used in addition to a full liver panel in cases of alcohol abuse.
LD: Lactate dehydrogenase is an enzyme that signifies tissue damage. It is often seen in acute kidney or liver disease, muscle tissue damage, fractures, cancer, and other conditions.
Insulin fasting: Insulin tests check to see the amount of insulin in your blood. Insulin is needed to move glucose from the blood into the cells for energy storage. Insulin levels can be checked to determine how well the body is producing insulin or if insulin resistance has developed.
B Vitamins: B vitamins (like uric acid, folate, and B12) are essential for healthy blood and the growth and development of the body. A B vitamin test may be administered if you’ve struggled with unchanging weakness, fatigue, mood changes, or rashes.
Phosphate and RBC Magnesium: These tests measure circulating phosphate or magnesium levels in the blood. When low, it can indicate the need for more of these minerals.
- Uric acid: High uric acid levels are a sign of kidney disease, preeclampsia, or alcoholism.
Bottom line: Each person is different and will need different blood tests to uncover their body’s biggest needs. Reach out to your primary care doctor to find out more about what blood tests might tell you about your unique health condition.
Healthier Every Day with Everyday Basics
Custom blood work gives you a peek into the hidden world of your internal health and guides you through understanding your body on a deeper level.
Once you have your blood work results, you can make informed decisions about what diet, exercise, medications, supplements, and other lifestyle factors will work for your body rather than against it.
Until then, Aceva Everyday Basics has your back. We’ve combined our Daily Balance multivitamin and our Absolute Greens to offer a comprehensive duo that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
With Everyday Basics, you can rest assured that you are giving your body the right building blocks to thrive each and every day. Get your Everyday Basics today!