Optimize Your “Best You” Understanding Your Blood Test Results | By Rachel Schwartzman, ND #wellbeingwednesday
I recently got some blood work done. While everything came back within the “normal” range, when I began looking through the lens of my naturopathic training, I realized I could be doing some things better. I strive for more energy, mood support and preventative medicine. I want to be my best self! For today’s Wellbeing Wednesday tip I thought I would share with you some common things I see on blood work, and how you can proactively work on your health.
First thing, let’s talk about reference ranges. There are large ranges for each test. Your MD will only notify you if something is out of the normal range. Medical doctors run so many blood tests they cannot possibly analyze them all. They will only see what gets flagged by the lab with an abnormal finding. Quite often a patient may be low normal, and so while they are doing alright, they actually could be doing a lot better! It’s a good idea to get a copy of your results and analyze them.
Iron: This mineral is commonly quite low in menstruating women. It’s ok for this mineral to be slightly on the lower side of normal, as iron in high amounts is toxic to the body. Taking your iron supplement with vitamin C, increases it’s absorption by 20x. I recommend an iron with B12, folic acid and vitamin C, these together with the iron make beautiful red blood cell! Foods rich in iron are; red meat, dark chicken meat, dark green leafy veggies, dried apricots, and blackstrap molasses.
B12: This can be low, especially in vegetarians or vegans. If you are looking to take a supplement consider the “sublingual” form that dissolves under your tongue. B12 is important for the nervous system, memory and energy. High amounts are in animal products, some vegetarian sources are nutritional yeast and spirulina.
Vitamin D: Living in northern climates we have less access to the sun all year round, and it is quite common for people to be deficient in vitamin D. Even in the summer people are indoors or slather their bodies with sunscreen, preventing vitamin D from absorbing into the body. Vitamin D is important for bone and heart health, mood support, and has anti-cancer properties. Your medical or naturopathic doctor will recommend a supplement, so talk to your health care provider.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): This is the marker for a healthy thyroid. It is commonly elevated in post-partum women, and often can self-regulate itself. However if it does not, it can produce unwanted symptoms such as; low energy, weight gain, hair loss, low libido, and mood fluctuations. You ideally want your TSH value to be between a 1.5-2.5. Take a look at your value and consult with a medical professional.
HDL (High Density :Lipoprotein): The emphasis has always been on “bad” cholesterol, or LDL (L=lousy). While we do want this value to be low, in fact a greater predictor for a heart disease is having a low HDL (H=healthy) cholesterol. So if I use my values as an example; I was at 1.33 (above 1:25) but we want this value to be high, so the heart can have the best nutrients it needs. What helps to increase this value? Omega 3 Essential fatty acids! Think walnuts, hemp hearts, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and fish oil.
There are many other blood results tested on standard tests, I just shared with you a few. Be sure to consult with a medical or naturopathic doctor if you have any concerns.
RACHEL SCHWARTZMAN is a naturopathic doctor in the St. Clair West neighbourhood. She is the co-owner of West End Naturopathic Doulas, a naturopathic collective that supports pregnant women and partners with the birth of their babies. Westenddoulas.com