Have you tested your biomarkers lately?

Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing disease. 

As a functional nutritionist, just like functional medicine, I understand that it is important to look at the body as a whole and understand how each organ and system work together to function optimally.

Thanks to the wide variety of modern testing techniques, we can readily learn how well our bodies are functioning and if there is anything amiss. 

Annually testing your biomarkers (the biological molecules found in your blood, fluids and tissues) will give you the power to know if there are any abnormalities that may indicate underlying health concerns.

When you know what you are dealing with, and are able to compare your results year-on-year, then you are in a strong position to fine-tune your body for optimum health.

While there are a variety of tests available, these are the ones I recommend as they pretty much cover all of the health bases. 

What to test

Lipid levels
Normal lipid levels are less than 150 mg/dL. If there is a disorder then it can be an indication of cholesterol issues. High levels increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Glucose
Normal blood sugar levels are less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). If there is a high glucose content at testing when fasting, it can be an indication of diabetes or the danger of diabetes. 

Inflammation
Levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) is an indication of inflammation. A normal range for men is 0-22 mm/hr and for women it is 0-29 mm/hr. Inflammation is an underlying issue of a health concern and your body’s immune response. 

Thyroid
The normal test range for an adult is: 0.40 – 4.50 mIU/mL. T3, T4, TSH are tested to check the functioning of thyroid to help prevent hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Iron
Iron is an important mineral. Normal levels for adult women are around 35.5 and 44.9% and for adult men, 38.3 to 48.6%. Too low iron can cause anaemia and too high can trigger liver issues. 

Liver enzymes
Liver enzymes tested, AST is normal between 10 to 40 units per litre and ALT between 7 to 56 units per litre. If they fall out of their normal range, then it can indicate liver function problems.  

Bloods

  • This is to check all blood cells: low, red – and Haemoglobin (Hb or Hgb), the protein in red blood cells together with platelets. Any inconsistency can indicate an underlying infection. 
  • Check homocysteine, a type of amino acid, a chemical your body uses to make proteins. Normal homocysteine levels in the blood are between 4 and 15 micromoles/litre (µmol/L). High homocysteine levels may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency.

Hormones
Checking our levels of sex hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – can indicate at what stage you are in your reproductive phase and also to see whether there are any other issues cause unusual levels. Eg PCOS in women. Work with someone who can test at the right time of a female cycle.

Cortisol
Normal levels taken in the morning are 5 to 25 mcg/dL or 140 to 690 nmol/L. Too high or too low levels can mean an adrenal disorder.

Kidney
Two tests are performed, the ACR (albumin to creatinine ratio) and GFR (glomerular filtration rate). ACR tests for protein in your urine and if there are, then it may mean that your kidneys are not filtering your blood well enough. An ACR below 30 is considered normal. A GFR tests a waste product called creatinine, if kidneys are not functioning then they have trouble removing creatinine from your blood. A GFR of 60 or higher is in the normal range. 

Magnesium
Typical magnesium levels are 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL (0.85 to 1.10 mmol/L). Magnesium is important for managing the body’s stress response.

Calcium
The normal levels for adults are between 8.6 and 10.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Too little or too high can be an indication of bone, heart, nerve or kidney issues. 

Vitamin B12
A standard range in the blood is between 190 and 950 picograms per millilitre (pg/mL). An important nutrient that helps keep blood and nerve cells healthy. 

Vitamin D
The normal range for adults is 60-80 ng/ml. Vitamin D is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, which is vital for healthy bones. It also supports immunity and mental health.

How to test

There are numerous private testing laboratories in South Africa. However, I recommend that you work with a healthcare practitioner, preferably a functional medicine doctor, who will understand your results and work with you to address conditions, if any, from the root cause up. 

I believe that optimum health and wellness isn’t a final destination, it is an ongoing relationship within our own bodies, working with our unique chemistry and lifestyle, and having the knowledge to do so. Contact me if you would like to talk more about your specific needs. 

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