10 Top Blood Tests to Take for Your Best Health

Wednesday Oct 23 | BY |
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Blood Tests

What should you look for when getting your blood tested?

A blood test can tell you a lot about your health. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the data for accurate diagnosis and health management is in your blood, and this data is important not only for treating disease, but for overall health and wellness.

So which blood tests are critical for you to take? We gathered the evidence here to help you plan for your doctor visits in the coming year.

Blood Tests and Desirable Results

Though we’re talking about a number of lab tests here, these can all be done off one simple blood draw. In other words, you need take only one actual blood test, and then just ask the doctor to be sure the laboratory technicians check the following levels.

  1. Lipids: These are the fats in your body. Measuring the lipids in your blood tells you cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which both have an impact on the health of your heart. You need to fast before this test for about twelve hours. Results total cholesterol: Low risk: < 200 mg/dL. (Desirable is 150 or less.) Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL. High: >240 mg/dL. Results LDL “bad” cholesterol: Low risk: < 100 mg/dL. (Optimal is < 79.) Near optimal: 100-129 mg/dL. Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL. High: 160-189 mg/dL. Very high: > 190 mg/dL. Results HDL cholesterol: Poor: < 40 mg/dL (men), < 50 mg/dL (women). Better: 50-59 mg/dL. Best: 60 mg/dL and above. Results triglycerides: Desirable: < 100 mg/dL. (Optimal is < 50.) Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL. High: 200-499 mg/dL. Very high: > 500 mg/dL.
  2. C-reactive protein (CRP): This is a measure of the inflammation in your body. Recent studies have found that inflammation is key to the progression of many diseases, including coronary artery disease, infection, inflammatory arthritis, lupus, and pelvic inflammatory disease. The test won’t tell you what’s causing the inflammation—only reveal the presence of inflammation in the body. Results: Low risk: < 1.0 mg/L. Average risk: 1.0–3.0 mg/L. High risk: > 3.0 mg/L.
  3. Fibrinogen: This is an important contributor to blood clotting, but if levels are high, it can indicate inflammation. High levels can also point to potential heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney inflammation. Results: Normal: 193-423 mg/dL. Optimal: 295-369 mg/dL.
  4. Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): This measures the status of your kidneys, liver and ecotrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as all of your blood sugar and blood proteins. It’s a quick snapshot of your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. Results show levels of your sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, carbon dioxide, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. Normal results: Normal levels are as follows. Albumin: 3.9-5.0 g/dL. Alkaline phosphatase: 44-147 IU/L. ALT: 8-37 IU/L. AST: 10-34 IU/L. BUN (blood urea nitrogen): 7-20 mg/dL. Calcium: 8.5-10.9 mg/dL. Chloride: 96-106 mmol/L. CO2: 20-29 mmol/L. Creatinine: 0.8-1.4 mg/dL. Glucose: 100 mg/dL. Potassium: 3.7-5.2 mEq/L. Sodium: 136-144 mEq/L. Bilirubin: 0.2-1.9 mg/dL. Protein: 6.3-7.9 g/dL.
  5. Complete blood cell count (CBC): This measures your concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. This helps the doctor check for things like anemia, infection, and other potential health problems behind symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and bruising. It can also indicate the presence of blood cancers. Normal results: Red blood cells: 4.32-5.72 trillion cells/L (men), 3.90-5.03 trillion cells/L (women). Hemoglobin: 13.5-17.5 grams/dL (men), 12.0-15.5 grams/dL (women). Hematocrit: 38.8-50.0 percent (men), 34.9-44.5 percent (women). White blood cells: 3.5-10.5 billion cells/L. Platelets: 150-450 billion/L.
  6. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH): This is the test that checks the function of your thyroid, and how well it’s doing at producing hormones. The results can help a doctor diagnose hypothyroidism (where the thyroid is underperforming), which can cause symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, constipation, and hair loss. It can also illuminate hyperthyroidism (where the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone), which can cause heart and bone problems. Normal levels: 0.4-4.0 mlU/L. Desirable: 3.5 mlU/L or less.
  7. Hemoglobin A1C: This test is used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes, or to gauge how we’ll you’re managing your disease. It shows your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. More specifically, it measures what percentage of your hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) is coated with sugar. The higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes. Results: Normal: 4.8-5.6 percent. Prediabetes: 5.7-6.4 percent. Diabetes: > 6.4 percent.
  8. Vitamin D: This test is specifically important as you get older, as a deficiency in vitamin D can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Results: Best: > 39-74 ng/mL. (Optimal 60-80.)
  9. Homocysteine: This test measures the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. It helps identify deficiencies in vitamin B12 or folic acid. High levels can indicate risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Results: Best: < 7.0 umol/L. (Optimal is < 6.0.) Normal: 4.3-15.3 umol/L (men), 3.3-11.6 umol/L (women).
  10. PSA test: This test can indicate high levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood, which can indicate the presence of cancer cells, a benign enlargement of the prostate gland, an infection of the prostate glance, or inflammation. A high level does not mean you have prostate cancer, but can be an indicator of overall prostate health. Checking for changes from year to year is best. Results: Best: 1.0-4.0 ng/mL. (Read more on Dr. Williams’ post, “How About a National Campaign on Prostate Health?”)

For more detailed information on blood testing and to find out what diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes are right for you, see our Blood Test Blueprint.

Have you taken these blood tests? Did you discover health problems as a result? Please share your story.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. TSH is not the only thyroid test that should be taken! TSH is a pituitary hormone. It is always done. The best indicators of thyroid function are Free T3, Free T4 and RT3, or Reverse T3. In addition to this, to determine whether or not you have simply hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, the most common form of this disease, you should also have both of the antibody tests run. Free T3 is the active hormone. Most doctors take for granted that T4 will always be converted to T3, but not everyone converts well. If you have ongoing or chronic illness, you may well have a preponderance of RT3, which will replace T3 in the receptors. This is not a good thing. So in order to get a complete picture, you really should have the full complement of thyroid testing done. The TSH test is a very small part of this picture and will give you a very incomplete picture of your thyroid health.

  2. Ken W says:

    C-reactive protein tests are so important for those who are dealing with inflammation. Many of us suffer from chronic inflammation without even knowing it and this test can help shed some light on your health. Vitamin D is another important test because so many of us are deficient in this vital vitamin. Great article, spreading awareness and educating people on how to monitor their health effectively with the help of their doctors.

  3. I would like to add ferritin and iron levels to the list. Hemochromatosis is a genetic iron overload disorder and from what I’ve read is the most common genetic disorder in Canada. I was not diagnosed with it until I complained of joint pains and was referred to a rheumatologist so my doctor ordered blood tests he would want and among them were the ferritin and iron tests. My ferritin levels were over 2500 micrograms per liter of blood and the hospital where I get my phlebotomy (blood letting) treatments say they want my levels around 50 micrograms per liter of blood. The oxidative stress caused by the excess iron can cause a host of life threatening issues from cardiovascular disease, pancreatic issues resulting in diabetes, liver failure and a recent study done at UCLA found a correlation between excess iron in parts of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. I was lucky sort of….in my case it attacked my joints and lost my job in 2011 as I could not do the simple tasks of standing at the counter or walking through the shop to get parts for customers and am now on a disability pension. Had this test been more routine I could have caught it before this degree of damage and begun treatments, the only one being draining blood on a regular basis to bring iron levels down.

  4. Ariel says:

    Kevin,
    Be in touch with me. I could write something much more cutting edge than these labs, though they are a good start. Things like MTHFR, fasting insulin, ferritin, free t4, free t3, thyroid antibodies are important but were missed. We both know Shea Lynn Baird and alot of other folks in that community. Would love to guest write for you. Cheers and peace, Ariel ariel@awakentotalhealth.com

  5. Diagnostic innovations have helped transform the practice of medicine, predominantly in the Western World. Advances in instrumentation and a deeper understanding of protein epigenetic modification, has enabled the development of a new generation of diagnostic tests. This new generation of technologies has failed to reduce disease burden.

    We propose Personal Health Maintenance a system of medicine based on keeping people healthy. This model will facilitate innovative thinking about reducing disease burden and transformation in the 70% or more of our citizens whose health has been ignored by disease management systems. We have the technology to provide to an individual their positive or negative direction of movement on their health continuum. The disruptive innovation of patient-centered healthcare is underway and their goal should be not to get disease.
    The above clinical laboratory tests were designed to detect or monitor disease. They can not help a person determine their movement on their health continuum.

  6. full and good details about the blood test. Well in India few doctors know about this information. Thanks for such a great information on women health here.

  7. GREAT article – wonderful resource… In addition to being a natural wellness researcher and writer myself, I’m also an editor — even when I’m not looking for them… In glancing through this article, I noticed something you may want to tweak:

    In paragraph 7 – first line — “we’ll” – S/B “well”

    Hope that doesn’t seem too BOSSYPANTS – just thought would pass along in case it’s helpful… A small way of giving back for gaining this great info that I will be sharing with my readers…

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