Confused About Labwork? Here Are 3 Useful Options to Consider

Evidence based

| 8 min read

Confused About Labwork? Here Are 3 Useful Options to Consider

PLEASE NOTE: The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. 

Woman getting labwork done with a medical professional.

Even if interpreting test results or getting a needle in your arm isn’t your idea of fun, the information from conducting labwork can make a huge difference in your quality of life! 

Regular labwork can offer insight into potential nutritional deficiencies, root causes to address, and the prevention or identification of disease. 

When analyzing the results of your lab work, it’s important to realize that the most meaningful insights come from repeating the tests over time.

While your first panel may reveal some areas for improvement, each body is different, and numerous factors can impact test results. 

If you’re looking for more information on your health status but need help figuring out where to start, this article is for you! 

Three Labwork Panels to Consider

The following lists are the diagnostic tests that Paul Saladino, MD, suggests for people who want to learn more about their overall health. 

Some of these tests you can order on your own from Marek Health and Let’s Get Checked.

Dr. Paul even partnered with Marek Health to offer two simple, affordable labwork options! 

However, most diagnostic companies require a licensed physician to order tests and help interpret the results.

Even if you are the type of person who nerds out on biomarkers and diagnostics, we still suggest you work with a physician or health coach you trust. An outside perspective is invaluable! 

If needed, feel free to check out The Society of Metabolic Health Practitioners, where you can find physicians from all around the globe who understand the immense value of making animal foods the center of the diet.

Another popular option for labwork analysis is IFM Find a Practitioner for a functional medicine approach

Again, don’t worry about tackling everything all at once! The most important thing you can do is establish a baseline for your body and expand the analysis with a professional.

1. Simple Panel

This panel of labwork focuses on markers for metabolic health, especially insulin resistance and diabetes.

  • Fasting Insulin: Also known as an insulin test, this test evaluates insulin production by the beta cells in your pancreas. It identifies insulin resistance and looks at the need for certain diabetics to start taking insulin. 
  • C-Peptide: Another test for insulin levels in the blood, the C-peptide test, distinguishes between the insulin produced by the pancreas and insulin from other sources.
  • High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP): This substance is usually a response to inflammation. Compared to the standard CRP test, this test can offer insights into your risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG): Also known as a glucose test. It measures the glucose level in your blood, which is moderated by your body’s ability to produce insulin. Too much glucose may indicate that your body isn’t responding to insulin. Too little is also problematic because your cells need glucose to function.
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c): This test estimates your glucose levels over the past three months. It helps determine how well your body is managing glucose. 
  • Homocysteine: Elevated homocysteine levels can indicate a vitamin B deficiency (B6, B9, B12, or folate). Abnormally high homocysteine is a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Folate: Low folate (B9) levels can lead to anemia and other health issues. This test looks at the most bioavailable form of B9 in your blood.
  • Fatty acids profile: Sometimes referred to as an RBC linoleic acid content test (or “OmegaCheck®️“), this test looks at the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your blood. Excess omega-6 fatty acids (especially linoleic acid) are connected with inflammation and may be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (1). 

2. Basic Panel

This battery of tests includes everything from the simple panel and expands the scope to include your hormone, mineral, and vitamin levels.

  • Complete Blood Count w/ Differential (CBC): This test measures the number of red and white blood cells as well as platelets.
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): With a battery of 14 measurements, this test can help assess liver and kidney health. 
  • Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase/Transpeptidase (GGT): This test assesses the function of your liver and bile ducts and monitors for alcohol abuse. It can also differentiate between liver and bone disease.
  • Serum Magnesium, Phosphorous: This test evaluates the levels of magnesium and phosphorous in your blood. Both have optimal ranges for healthy function.
  • High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP): This substance is usually a response to inflammation. Compared to the standard CRP test, this test can offer insights into your risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Fructosamine: This test looks for fructosamine levels in your blood. This substance occurs when glucose binds with proteins. It’s another way to examine your body’s ability to manage glucose. This test is often used for patients who have inaccurate HgbA1c test results.
  • Lipid Panel: Also known as a cholesterol panel, this test looks at the specific fat molecules in your blood. It includes HDL/LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 
  • Calcium (total and ionized): Calcium is critical for many bodily functions, including the nervous system and skeleton. This test looks at the total calcium levels and the amount of ionized calcium. 
  • Homocysteine: Elevated homocysteine levels can indicate a vitamin B deficiency (B6, B9, B12, or folate). Abnormally high homocysteine is a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Iron Panel: Looking at your iron and ferritin levels can help determine your body’s current iron levels and your capacity to store iron for later use.
  • Thyroid Panel: Free and total T3/T4, TSH, reverseT3, antithyroglobulin antibody, anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody. Some thyroid panels only include some of the tests listed above. 
  • Uric Acid: High levels of uric acid can indicate the patient is suffering from gout. It’s also used to monitor kidney stone formation.
  • Hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone (FSH/LH), free/total testosterone, DHEA-S, estradiol, progesterone, prolactin, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and AM cortisol. You will need to specifically request each hormone test because no standard panel covers all of them. 
  • Urinalysis (UA): This test analyzes your urine and is often used to look for diabetes, bacterial infection, and kidney or liver issues. 

3. Advanced Panel

This collection of labwork includes highly detailed tests from a variety of diagnostic providers. It does NOT include the tests from the simple and basic panels above. 

  • NMR LipoProfile®️: This is a more detailed cholesterol and lipoprotein analysis using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
  • Fasting Leptin: Leptin deficiency can contribute to obesity because the leptin hormone helps regulate your sensation of fullness (satiety).
  • IGF-1: This test can help assess pituitary gland function and look for growth hormone deficiency.
  • F2-Isoprostanes/Creatinine Ratio (urine): This test is excellent for assessing oxidative stress. F2-Isoprostanes (F2-IsoP) can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Myeloperoxidase (MPO): Abnormally high levels of MPO are associated with several inflammatory disorders.
  • Asymmetric dimethylarginine and symmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA/SDMA) ratio: This test assesses the health of your endothelium or lining of your blood vessels.
  • 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG): This is a marker for assessing oxidative DNA damage.
  • Lipid Peroxides: These oxidative stress markers arise when polyunsaturated fatty acids oxidize, harming the cell membrane. 
  • Glutathione (total and fractionated oxidized/reduced): Glutathione exists in several forms in the blood. Low levels are associated with a number of diseases. 
  • 24-hr salivary cortisol curve with cortisol awakening response: Used to assess adrenal hormone function across a 24-hour period. 
  • Stool Testing: GI-MAP®️: This comprehensive stool test analyzes the biome of your gut to help address specific areas of dysbiosis (an imbalance of micro-organisms).
  • Gut Health Test from Thorne (replaces the Alpha diversity test from Onegevity): This test offers a detailed analysis of your gastrointestinal microbiome and personalized recommendations for optimizing your health. 
  • Nutritional Testing: Genova NutrEval®️: This test is a great way to assess your nutritional deficiencies and opportunities for dietary optimization.
  • Toxins: GPL-TOX Profile: This comprehensive assessment examines your exposure to non-metallic environmental pollutants such as pesticides and other toxicants.
  • Heavy Metals Panel (especially lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium): There are many tests for heavy metals, including blood, hair, urine, and stool. This page from Mosaic Diagnostics gives a good overview of different specimens and the metals they can be used to test. Consult with your physician to determine which tests are right for you.

Test, Don’t Guess

Graphic outlining the importance of labwork.

Running labwork on your blood, urine, or stool can offer valuable insight into your health status.

Unless you’re experiencing chronic or unexplained health issues, the level of labwork outlined above is extremely rare.

It’s also possible that your medical provider will identify labwork that is better suited to your specific needs. However, there’s nothing wrong with requesting additional testing where you see fit. 

Feel free to contact our team at Heart & Soil if you’d like more guidance. We cannot interpret or suggest specific labwork, but we can point you in a better direction based on your needs.  

Hopefully, these resources will help you find the answers you’re looking for! 

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