powered by Sounder

Regular blood testing is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent and reverse diseases of all sorts! With certain blood test results in hand, you can catch critical changes in your body long before they manifest as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and much more, and be inspired to turn things around. Having the proper blood tests can empower you to make changes that could add decades of healthspan* to your life.

*Healthspan is the number of years of one’s life that are spent in good health.

In my last article, Essential Blood Tests to Get Regularly, I went over all the basic bloodwork you should do at least annually, and preferably more often than that.

Advanced Bloodmarkers

Now, let’s look at several more advanced blood test markers that you can check occasionally, or when indicated by the bloodwork analysis report(s) you can get from me – to do a deeper dive into what’s going on in your body and discover more in-depth details about what needs attention and why. That way, you’ll have an even better idea of what you need to do to achieve and maintain optimal health!

Omegas

Optimal levels of omega fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and many other inflammatory diseases. When measuring your cardio-protective omega levels, you want to check the following markers (which are all included in Ulta Labs’ Wellness Omegas panel):

ARACHIDONIC ACID (AA)

Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid present in the membranes of your body’s cells, and is abundant in the brain, muscles, and liver. It is an essential nutrient, and a key inflammatory intermediate that can also act as a vasodilator, keeping blood vessels from constricting.

On the flip side, it is a key component of the inflammatory process – an essential process for healing from injuries, but which can develop into chronic inflammation and then cause trouble. AA is the precursor to several inflammatory molecules, and as such, it plays a role in the development of diseases like heart disease, cancer and inflammatory conditions like arthritis and asthma. So keeping it in the optimal range – not too high, not too low – is important for optimal health.

AA:EPA RATIO

Your AA:EPA ratio shows you your balance between arachidonic acid (AA) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This ratio may serve as an indication of the amount of inflammation in your body over the last 3-4 months before testing.

DHA

The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is a primary structural component of the brain, skin, and retina, and is required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults.

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that prevents the blood from clotting too easily (thus reducing the risk of stroke), reduces triglyceride levels in the blood, and reduces pain and swelling.

OMEGA 3 (EPA+DHA) INDEX

The Omega 3 Index measures the sum total of your Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, as a percentage of the total fatty acids in your red blood cell membranes. For example, if you have 64 fatty acids in a cell membrane and 3 are EPA and DHA, then you would have an Omega-3 Index of 4.6%. This has been found to accurately reflect the amount of these important compounds in your tissues. And this measurement is important because it tells you whether you are getting enough of these fatty acids, which are crucial for warding off disease and promoting good health.

OMEGA 6:3 RATIO

Omega 6 fatty acids, like the Omega 3s, are essential fats that your body needs to function properly but does not make. However, Omega 6s are predominantly pro-inflammatory, and we tend to get way too much of them in our modern diets. Anthropological evidence suggests that the ratio that humans evolved eating was somewhere around 1:1, while the ratio today is about 16:1, and optimal is considered to be less than 4:1. High omega-6 dietary intake has been linked to chronic inflammation, and a high Omega 6:3 ratio can negatively impact health in several ways, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer

Meanwhile, a low Omega 6:3 ratio is associated with improved brain function and mood.

Once you learn your Omega 6:3 ratio, if it’s not optimal, check out my post How to Optimize Your Omega 6:3 Ratio for Better Health for tips on what to do to improve it!

Copper

Copper is an essential trace mineral involved in multiple functions, including:

  • energy production
  • iron transport
  • neurotransmitter synthesis
  • anti-oxidant activity
  • regulation of gene expression
  • red and white blood cell maturation
  • bone strength
  • brain development
  • and the metabolism of glucose and cholesterol

The brain and liver contain the highest concentrations of copper and a deficiency will adversely affect these organs as well as any tissues metabolically depending on copper. Conversely, excess copper in any tissues or organs can cause damage.

RBC copper is a more accurate reflection of the total body copper level than serum copper. Measuring RBC copper can be useful in assessing inflammatory processes, anemia, and immune function.

And another good reason to test your copper: including your copper level when running the Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis or Bloodsmart Reports makes the results more detailed, accurate and informative.

Zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that participates in a significant number of metabolic functions and is found throughout the body’s tissues and fluids. Zinc is an essential part of more enzyme systems in your body than the rest of the trace minerals combined. Enzymatic functions that require adequate Zinc levels include:

  • digestive enzymes
    • including the production of adequate stomach acid, without which digestion and immune system functioning are compromised
  • energy production
  • alcohol metabolism
  • anti-oxidants
  • immunity
  • respiration
  • detoxification

Zinc insufficiency negatively affects the multitude of metabolic functions that depend on it, including wound healing, immune function, protein synthesis, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, antioxidant activity, and the production of insulin and thyroid hormones.

Measuring RBC Zinc provides a better assessment of intracellular and long-term zinc status than serum zinc.

And, like with copper, including your zinc level when running the Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis or Bloodsmart Reports makes those reports’ results more detailed, accurate and informative.

Copper:Zinc Ratio

Once you have your copper and zinc levels, you can calculate your copper:zinc ratio. This ratio provides information about inflammation, immune strength, oxidative stress, and anti-oxidant capacity, all of which are very important for optimizing health.

Magnesium

One of the most essential – and often overlooked – minerals, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of 1,000s of processes in your body, and deficiencies are extremely common. By checking your level and then correcting it if necessary, you can guard against—and help alleviate—many health issues, including insomnia, muscle cramps, nerve pain, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and asthma, and more.

RBC Magnesium is the preferred method for measuring your magnesium, as serum magnesium is found intracellularly and is therefore a less accurate measurement of your true magnesium status.

For more in-depth info about the many health benefits of magnesium, check out Dr Carolyn Dean’s world-renowned book, Magnesium Miracle.

C-Peptide

Used as an indicator for insulin production from the pancreas, C-Peptide can help assess whether high blood glucose is due to reduced insulin output from the pancreas (such as in Type 1 Diabetes), or due to reduced glucose uptake by the cells (leading to Insulin Resistance, Prediabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes). Measuring C-Peptide can therefore help you track the health and functioning of your pancreas and highlight issues long before they develop into overt disease.

Adiponectin

A hormone secreted by fat cells, adiponectin regulates glucose metabolism, helps burn fat for energy, regulates appetite, and is inversely correlated with body fat and BMI. Adiponectin is a potent insulin enhancer, linking adipose tissue and whole body glucose metabolism, and improves insulin sensitivity, regulates the immune system, helps modulate inflammation, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Decreased adiponectin correlates with insulin resistance, obesity, abdominal obesity (belly fat), diabetes, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. The Adiponectin ELISA Assay quantitatively measures adiponectin levels in your blood.

Leptin

Leptin is a hormone, made by fat cells, that decreases your appetite and increases your satisfaction, or fullness, after meals (aka satiety). Leptin also plays a role in many other physiological processes, including immunity, bone formation, blood cell formation, reproduction, and blood sugar regulation. Increasing leptin levels correlate with increasing body fat; as fat storage in the body increases, more leptin is produced, leading to “leptin resistance”. The effect of this is a reduction in the feeling of satiety after meals, making people feel hungry all the time, leading to a vicious cycle of more eating and more fat accumulation.

Adiponectin:Leptin Ratio

Once you have your adiponectin and leptin levels, you can calculate your adiponectin:leptin (A:L) ratio, which can be used as an indicator of the health of your fat cells. This is important because not all fat cells are created equal. Some are beneficial to health, and some are more detrimental. You’ve probably known or heard of people with excess body fat who are otherwise in perfect health, and vice versa: thin people who seem perfectly healthy – in part because they are slim – can actually be quite unhealthy on the inside. This is known as TOFI – thin outside, fat inside – and is very common in Asians. The A:L ratio can tell you at a glance how healthy your fat cells are, which is an important indicator of overall metabolic health and disease risk.

Fibrinogen

An important contributor to blood clotting, fibrinogen levels increase in response to tissue inflammation. Since the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease are essentially inflammatory processes, increased fibrinogen levels can help predict the risk of heart disease and stroke.

High fibrinogen levels not only are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, but also are seen in other inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney).

Testing your fibrinogen levels occasionally can help you catch developing problems early on, so you can head them off at the pass!

Summing Up

Depending on what your Essential Blood Tests and bloodwork analysis reports show as being issues for you, some or all of the above tests can be useful in giving us more in-depth information about what’s happening in your body, so we know what to do about it!

 

Next Steps

  1. Download and print out my Essential Bloodwork Cheat Sheet.
  2. Order your bloodwork yourself via my discounted lab service, Ulta Labs, or have your doc or other practitioner order it for you.
  3. Get your essential blood tests done, and, if you’re already an established patient of mine, email me the results.
  4. Order your lab analysis reports from me (if you’re an established patient already).
  5. Based on those results – which we can review together in a consultation – get some or all of the above follow-up tests done, to get more information.

 

Not a patient of Dr. Emily’s yet, but would like to be?
Schedule yourself an Initial Inquiry Phone Call
a free, 30-minute chat with Dr. Emily to discuss your health goals and concerns,
to see if you both feel like you’re a good fit!