Lab work can come in different forms and provide us so much valuable information in different ways. Functional gut and hormone labs can provide us with so much important information, but let’s still not underestimate some of these blood labs that we can get from our primary care physician at our yearly checkups. This really helps us see the progress that is going on internally, which is going to set you up for real, lifelong health. Dietitians have the authority to recommend specific lifestyle, nutrition, and supplement changes based on what we see.
Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel
These 3 panels are pretty standard in your yearly checkup, but can give us insight into your overall health, habits & metabolism. This can tell us information about electrolyte balance, kidney function, adrenal function, blood sugar, cholesterol, and the CBC gives us insight into red and white blood cells. Generally, I meet with clients with fatigue, hormonal or gut issues and we can direct this information right back to their symptoms.
Full Thyroid Panel
Commonly (but not always), just your TSH is checked at your annual checkup. This simply tells us more about the communication between the brain and the thyroid, which can be helpful but not the full picture. The thyroid is like your body’s thermostat which controls your metabolic function in the body, therefore a full thyroid panel gives us as dietitians so much valuable information. The additional markers to ask for include TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, TPO, and TgAb. The thyroid is like a chain reaction, so this simply tells us what is going on throughout the chain and if there is any overcompensation or undercompensation.
Fasting Insulin, Homocysteine, Hemoglobin A1C and C-Reactive Protein
These may or may not be included in your comprehensive metabolic panel, so I thought I would include them separately. Each can help measure cardiovascular health and many other processes in the body, since your body is not compartmentalized and it all works together. Insulin resistance leads to elevated lipids, so it is important to look at this with your lipid profile. Homocysteine can look into folate status, which is a key nutrient that is heart protective. Hemoglobin A1C measures blood sugar over a 3 month period. C- Reactive Protein (CRP) is a general marker for overall inflammation, and if high we can investigate further the root cause of inflammation. As I have mentioned in my past blog posts, inflammation is a broad and thrown around term.
Nutrients to look for in the blood include vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, iron metabolism (iron, transferrin, ceruloplasmin, ferritin, TIBC), vitamin A & copper. I’ve spoken a lot about vitamin D in the past, and it is something that I suspect is low in most clients especially in the winter, but it is always helpful to get checked for adequate supplementation. Magnesium has many many roles in the body, one of them being working synergistically with vitamin D. There is so much to iron metabolism including how much is stored, how much is in the blood, and we are finding more and more evidence of issues in how it is actually transported. Vitamin A does play a huge role in iron metabolism as well, along with thyroid and many other mechanisms in the body. Zinc and copper are again crucial for so many processes, one being specifically brain health and neurotransmitter production.
Putting it All Together
Save/ screenshot this before your next annual checkup to really give you valuable insight into what is going on beneath the surface with your metabolism. As dietitians, we can look at this compared to optimal functioning ranges to really get you feeling and functioning your best. If you would like to discuss further and relate back to your symptoms, set up a complimentary consultation here.