Three Tests To Run This Year With Your Doctor

February 1st, 2015

When seeing your primary care doctor it can be difficult to know which blood tests are important and which are not.  For my patients there are three non-standard tests I recommend they have when doing blood work at their annual check up. The information is not crucial to any particular diagnosis, however the tests provide information that helps to paint a picture of the underlying health and may inspire meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes that will impact overall health and wellbeing down the road. As a side note, if you have insurance, often one annual physical is covered.  The blood tests may cost extra but are well worth the expense.

Vitamin D – The 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D test is the most accurate way to check your vitamin D status. Greater than 90% of my patients have been lower than the optimal range when checking this marker. Vitamin D is crucial for immune function, bone health, cardiovascular health, mood, and so much more. Because Vitamin D is chronically low in our society today, I recommend 2000 to 4000 IUs of Vitamin D3 for my patients until they get their levels tested. We then may adjust the dose depending on the results of the level.

Hemoglobin A1C – The HA1C test is a standard test for individuals with diabetes. It differs from a blood sugar test in that the blood sugar test is specific to that particular point in time, while the HA1C gives a broader reflection of the blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. For a diabetic, the HA1C indicates how well the individual has been controlling their blood sugar levels with diet, medication, and/or insulin over the past few months and can provide information for making changes to any of these areas based on the results of the test. I think everyone should have this checked, diabetic or not, because individuals that are not diabetic, may be walking the edge of developing diabetes yet their fasting blood sugar may be in the normal range when they have blood drawn for their annual exam. Eating for stable blood sugars is an important component of long term health and vitality. If you have your HA1C checked and the value is above a 5.6% it would be valuable to discuss with your doctor how to eat for healthy blood sugar levels. If you doctor tells you to “eat more whole grains” ignore that doctor and find a new one.

High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein – The HSCRP test is a measure of inflammation. Currently this test may be run if the patient is at risk for heart disease based on other factors such as elevated cholesterol, lipids, triglycerides, blood pressure, or other indicators. The HSCRP test is not specific to cardiovascular inflammation. In fact it is a measure of inflammation throughout the body. Someone with an autoimmune condition does not need to run this test because we already know they are hyper inflamed. Someone with a normal lipid panel may still have systemic inflammation and the HSCRP test could give us an indication of this status. Inflammation is a unifying theme for the chronic diseases that are causing so much trouble in our society today. If someone can get a glimpse of their inflammatory status before developing any chronic disease and then begin to implement lifestyle and diet changes to address the inflammation, this is a perfect example of preventative medicine.

The final important point I want to make about these three tests is that individuals can continue to have their levels checked during future blood work so that they can fine tune various interventions to improve the results and optimize the overall status of their health. Next time you go to your primary care physician, ask them to check these three markers in your blood.

~Dr. Swanz

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

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