For the past several years, I’ve been getting regular blood testing done, and it’s something I recommend for everyone no matter if you’re healthy or suffering from an issue; no matter if you’re an avid athlete or recreational exerciser. Blood testing is one of the best windows we have to the inside and to what’s going on (saliva testing is arguably a better means). Getting blood work is a great way to take charge of your health, gauge wellness, and simply learn more about you. Sometimes we may look and feel fine on the outside, but the inside paints a different picture.
It starts with that first test to establish a baseline; you may have this already, but if not, get on it even sooner! Then from there, it’s important to do blood testing consistently each year, and even multiple times within a year (like pre, during and/or post race season) to note changes, whether those changes are positive or negative. For example, if you were low on Vitamin D and started supplementing, re-test to see if it worked! Also, timing of your test is key, and there are some guidelines to this to ensure your results aren’t skewed, for example, from a hard workout the day prior or something like that.
Another important aspect of blood testing is, of course, analyzing the results correctly. By this I mean, you can’t always trust the “normal ranges” to which your results are compared. On many blood test scales, the norms are just total crap. Why? They use general populations consisting of all kinds of people, many of whom have issues, to develop these norms and therefore you may be “normal” – but compared with whom? Those with diseases, obesity, thyroid issues, and so on… in other words, don’t trust the norms, the ranges may be too large or even too small and indicate you don’t have a problem, when in actuality you do! This requires some extra, but worthwhile, work on your part to a) find a doctor and/or specialist who can analyze your results uniquely to you; and b) learn about the numbers and tests yourself.
Then the question is: What to test? Below is a basic list of everything you should have tested, male or female (also some ladies’ specifics at the end). I know it’s a lot, but all of this is extremely relevant and covers all your bases. I explain several of the items, but if you want to learn more about what these things are, the website Direct Labs, does a great job at explaining specifics and why you’d want them tested.
Lastly, if you don’t have a good doctor or don’t want to wait forever for an appointment, there are great online for blood testing these days offering competitive pricing, convenience and quick turnaround. If you have a doc/specialist you can take the test to then I recommend Direct Labs. If no doc, then check out WellnessFx, which also provides a doctor to interpret.
Please, print out this list or copy it and make that appointment! Leave a comment with any questions, etc.
Complete Blood Count w/ Differential
This examines different parts of the blood and checks for abnormalities, infection, etc; tests your red blood cell and white blood cell count, hemoglobin and much more.
No need to list; this shouldn’t change no matter where you get tested
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This is for liver, kidneys, fluids & electrolytes, glucose testing.
Make sure it includes:
BUN (Urea nitrogen)
This tests fats and things like cholesterol levels.
Make sure it includes:
This is hormones, markers of inflammation, iron and much more. Important for athletes especially.
CRP, hs (marker of inflammation)
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
T3 free (optional if you think you have thyroid problems)
T4 free (optional if you think you have thyroid problems)
Progesterone (optional for men; but it has significance for both sexes)
IGF-1 (Growth Hormone surrogate)
Total Iron Binding Capacity
HbA1c (shows your average blood sugar over past few months)
Female hormones. A saliva test may be more appropriate for certain female hormones, especially if there is an issue. These hormones fluctuate greatly depending on where you are in your cycle.