So, your doctor sent you the results of your most recent blood test, but what do all of the numbers say, and how do you properly comprehend basic lab tests? We’ve got your back.
With so many blood tests available today, you’ll probably need some guidance on which ones will give you the most accurate results.
Blood Test Guide.
|Test||Healthy Range||Ideal Level|
|Fasting blood glucose||70 – 99 mg/dL||Between 80 and 90 mg/dL|
|Fasting insulin||Below 8 μIU/ml||Below 3 μIU/ml|
|Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)||4.8 – 5.6 percent||Below 5.4 percent|
|Homocysteine||5 to 15 μmol/L||Below 8 μmol/L|
|C-reactive protein||0.0 – 3.0 mg/L||Below 2.0 mg/L|
|Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D)||30 – 80 ng/mL||50 – 80 ng/mL|
Blood Test Measurement Guide
|ng/dL||nanograms per deciliter|
|mg/dL||milligrams per deciliter|
|mg/L||milligrams per liter|
|μIU/ml||micro international units per milliliter|
micro moles per liter
How to Read Common Blood Tests (and What to Do If Your Results Indicate Risk)
Complete Blood Count (CBC):
This section, which is also known as “Hematology,” gives you a snapshot of your blood’s composition. Here’s how it works:
WBC stands for white blood cells, which are the cells responsible for the immunity. You can also see “differential count” under WBC (or elsewhere in the CBC write-up), which lists the different kinds of white blood cells that doctors control.
|Neutrophils||40% to 60% of the total|
|Lymphocytes||20% to 40%|
|Monocytes||2% to 8%|
|Eosinophils||1% to 4%|
|Basophils||0.5% to 1%|
|RBC (Red Blood Cell) Erythrocyte Count||Red blood cells are the cells that carry oxygen and minerals throughout the body.||4.2 to 5.9 million cmm|
|Hemoglobin||Found in red blood cells, hemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to blood vessels throughout the body. Low levels of hemoglobin can reveal possible anemia.||13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter for men, 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter for women|
|Hematocrit||Hematocrit is a measurement of the volume percentage of red blood cells in the blood. This test can also be used to indicate potential anemia.||38.8% to 50% for men, 34.9% to 44.5% for women|
|MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume)||This is a measurement of the average volume of red blood cells in the body. Levels outside of this range can reveal anemia or chronic fatigue syndrome.||80 to 100 femtoliters|
|MCH (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin)||This test reports the average amount of hemoglobin in each red blood cell. High levels can indicate anemia, and low levels can reveal a nutritional deficiency.||27 to 32 picograms|
|MCHC (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration)||This test is an indicator of the average amount of hemoglobin in a particular amount of red blood cells. Similar to the MCH test, a low percentage can signal anemia, while a high percentage can represent a nutritional deficiency.||28% to 36%|
|RDW or RCDW (Red Cell Distribution Width)||This measurement provides information about the size and shape of the body’s red blood cells. Numbers outside of this range could be indicative of anemia, a nutritional deficiency, liver disease and more.||11% to 15%|
|Platelet Count||This test offers insight into the amount of platelets found in the bloodstream. An amount of platelets outside of this range can affect blood clotting and/or signify a health issue.||38.8% to 50% for men, 34.9% to 44.5% for women|
The metabolic panel is a blood check that analyzes organ function and scans for a variety of diseases, including diabetes and kidney disease.
|Total Protein (or A/G Ratio)||The total protein test compares the levels of the two proteins in your blood, albumin and globulin. High protein levels can signal a potential health issue.||A little over 1|
|Albumin||This is a protein produced by the liver, so albumin levels can indicate liver or kidney conditions.||3.9 to 5.0 g/dL|
|Globulin||Produced by the liver and immune system, globulin levels are indicators of autoimmune diseases.||2.0 to 3.5 g/dL|
|Alkaline Phosphate||Elevated levels of this enzyme can signify liver or bone problems.||44 to 147 IU/L|
|Bilirubin||This measure offers insight about the health of the liver and kidneys.||0.1 to 1.9 mg/dL|
|BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)||Similar to bilirubin, this offers information about the liver and kidney functions, so increased levels of this measurement may reveal underlying problems in these organs.||10 to 20 mg/dL|
|BUN/Creatinine Ratio||This measure indicates if the kidneys are effectively eliminating waste. If creatinine levels are too high, this ratio can indicate reduced kidney function.||10:1 to 20:1 (ratio may be slightly higher for men and the elderly)|
|Calcium||High levels of calcium in the bloodstream can imply kidney issues, cancer and more.||9.0 to 10.5 mg/dL|
|Chloride||Increased levels of this mineral can signal an excessively acidic environment in the body, which can indicate an underlying issue such as dehydration or a kidney disorder.||98 to 106 mEg/L|
|Phosphorus||High phosphorus levels can represent kidney problems or issues with the parathyroid gland.||2.4 to 4.1 mg/dL|
|Potassium||Low levels of this mineral can impair proper nerve functioning, cause irregular heartbeats and more.||3.7 to 5.2 mEg/L|
|Sodium||Inconsistent sodium levels can indicate dehydration, problems with the adrenal glands, issues with the liver or kidneys, and more.||135 to 145 mEg/L|
Lipid Panel (or Lipid Profile)
Based on cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, the lipid panel measures a person’s likelihood of cardiac problems.
This is a test of a combination of both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol (good).
|Healthy||Below 200 mg/dL|
|Borderline High||200 to 239 mg/dL|
|High||Above 240 mg/dL|
Healthy range: 40 to 160 mg/dL
This test measures the amount of fats in the bloodstream. Levels that are too high can cause increased risk for heart disease.
HDL, or good cholesterol, wards off heart disease.
|Best||Above 60 mg/dL|
|Good||50 to 60 mg/dL|
|Poor||Below 40 mg/dL for men, below 50 mg/dL for women|
LDL, or bad cholesterol, can clog the arteries and cause increased risk for heart disease.
|Optimal||Below 100 mg/dL|
|Near Optimal||100 to 129 mg/dL|
|Borderline High||130 to 159 mg/dL|
|High||160 to 189 mg/dL|
|Very High||Above 189 mg/dL|
Other Essential Tests to Take and Why You Should
Fasting Blood Glucose Test
What Is Fasting Blood Glucose?
A fasting blood glucose test is used to determine a person’s diabetes risk. Since blood glucose levels rise after meals, a fasting blood glucose test measures the blood glucose levels after an 8-hour fast, allowing you to establish a baseline value without the effect of food or drinks. Since most people have gone 8 hours without eating overnight, a fasting blood glucose test is normally done first thing in the morning.
Normal Fasting Blood Glucose Range
Fasting blood glucose will fall somewhere in one of three ranges:
|70 mg/dL – 100 mg/dL||A fasting blood glucose level lower than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) usually means that your levels are normal. For those below 100 mg/dL, the ideal level is between 80 and 90 mg/dL.|
|100 mg/dL – 125 mg/dL||Fasting blood glucose levels that are anywhere between 100 and 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) are considered higher than normal, and usually indicate presence of a condition known as prediabetes, something one in three Americans have but are unaware of it.|
|126 mg/dL or Higher||A measurement of 126 mg/dL or higher is a red flag, and your doctor will likely order another test to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. If fasting blood glucose is higher than 126 mg/dL on two separate tests, it is likely that diabetes has developed and needs to be properly managed.|
How to Lower Blood Sugar
The easiest ways to avoid heart disease are to eat a balanced diet and exercise multiple hours per week. Several foods can also help to naturally reduce blood sugar levels. Adding a cinnamon substitute to your everyday routine will help you achieve a balanced blood sugar level. Cinnamon has been shown in studies to help regulate blood sugar and fight insulin resistance. Berberine is another all-important nutrient to think of. Berberine successfully regulated blood sugar in many clinical trials by activating a regulatory enzyme known as adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, or AMPK.Berberine’s capacity to control blood sugar was also compared to that of a widely used antidepressant, according to one study reviewer.
Fasting Insulin Test
What Is Fasting Insulin?
Since insulin is the primary hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to cells, it’s vital that the body produces and uses it efficiently. The fasting insulin test, like the fasting blood glucose test, checks for a precise read on insulin levels after 8 hours of fasting. The fasting insulin test will detect factors like the growth of an insulin-producing tumor as well as assess whether insulin resistance is present, which may mean type II diabetes.
Normal Fasting Insulin Range
Insulin resistance makes it more difficult for the body to control blood glucose levels. The results of your test show that your fasting insulin level is between:
|3–8 uIU/mL||You show no insulin resistance if your test results reveal fasting insulin between 3–8 uIU/mL, which is a healthy range.|
|Greater than 8 uIU/mL||You have slight insulin resistance if you have fasting insulin is greater than 8 uIU/mL.|
|Greater than 10 uIU/mL||You show moderate insulin resistance if you have fasting insulin greater than 10 uIU/mL.|
|Greater than 12 uIU/mL||You have severe insulin resistance if you have fasting insulin greater than 12 uIU/mL.|
Regular exercise, eating a Mediterranean-inspired diet, and taking vitamins believed to improve sensitivity, such as berberine, chromium, or cinnamon, are all examples of lifestyle modifications that enhance insulin sensitivity and have the potential to reverse type II diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test
What Is Hemoglobin A1C?
Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying molecule of red blood cells. This measure, which is not to be confused with an iron test, determines how effectively the body controls your blood glucose levels based on the physical attachment of glucose and hemoglobin.
Normal Hemoglobin A1C Range
Your hemoglobin levels will fall into one of the following ranges:
|5.4% or Below||Around 5.4% or below is ideal.|
|4.8% – 5.6%||The normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is 4.8% – 5.6 %.|
|5.7% – 6.4%||Levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes|
|6.5% or Higher||Levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes.|
The objective for people with diabetes is to have a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7%. The higher the doses, the greater the risk of diabetes-related complications.
What Is Homocysteine?
Homocystine is an amino acid that can be converted into methionine, which aids in protein biosynthesis, or cysteine, which can be used in enzymatic reactions or protein synthesis with the assistance of certain B-vitamins.
The aim of a homocysteine test is two reasons:
- To determine whether there is a chance of cardiac problems.
- To determine if a person is deficient in folic acid or vitamin B12
When homocysteine levels are high, it could indicate that the conversion to cysteine isn’t happening, implying that nutrients like folic acid and B12 are deficient. Homocysteine levels also increase before signs of these deficiencies manifest.
On the other hand, a homocysteine test will determine one’s risk of heart attack; it is considered a risk factor for coronary artery disease by experts. Homocysteine levels that are too high can cause endothelial damage or blood vessel inflammation over time.
How To Lower Homocysteine
B vitamins such as B6, B12, and folate may help lower homocysteine levels; but, since high homocysteine levels are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, measures for these possible health risks should be taken as well.
C-Reactive Protein/Inflammation Test
A C-Reactive Protein Test measures the amount of inflammation in the body, allowing your doctor to accurately assess your risk of heart attack or stroke.
What Is C-Reactive Protein?
CRP is a protein produced in the liver and released in the body in response to inflammation. Although inflammation is a call for help everywhere in the body, inflammation of the heart is particularly harmful.
Many doctors agree that this inflammation biomarker is more reliable than any other procedure for detecting cardiac or artery problems. Inflammation of the body has been called the “silent murderer” in recent years because it is believed to be a hallmark of many preventable diseases. (And women, in particular, should be aware of this test, since studies have shown that CRP is much more efficient than lipid testing in detecting cardiovascular problems in women.)
Normal C-Reactive Protein Level
The following levels determine your risk of developing cardiovascular disease:
|Low Risk||1 mg/L|
|Average Risk||Between 1 mg/L and 3 mg/L|
|High Risk||Higher than 3 mg/L|
How To Lower Inflammation in the Body
- Anti-inflammatory diets should be consumed in large quantities.
- Reduce or remove inflammatory foods from your diet.
- Maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
- Make it a point to workout on a regular basis.
- Reduce the weight.
- Control the anxiety.
Vitamin D (25-Hydroxyvitamin D) Test
The vitamin D test is often referred to as the “25-hydroxy vitamin D” or “25(OH)D Test” on blood test results. This test determines how much vitamin D is circulating in your blood, and if you’re like 95% of Americans, your vitamin D levels are likely to be low.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency don’t show up before it’s too late, which is why it’s important to take vitamin D3 (not D2) supplements and get your vitamin D levels checked regularly.
Vitamin D Levels
Here are the levels of vitamin D and what they signify:
|Very Healthy||Between 50 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL|
|Healthy||Between 30 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL|
|Insufficient||Between 21 ng/mL and 29 ng/mL|
|Vitamin D Deficient||Below 20 ng/mL|
How To Fix Low Vitamin D
The easiest way to avoid the risky health consequences of low vitamin D is to take a vitamin D3 supplement and have the vitamin D levels checked once a year.
Can I Get a Vitamin D Home Test?
Many vitamin D home tests are accurate, but they shouldn’t be used in place of daily doctor visits.