Five lab tests to talk to your doctor about

The New Year is a good time to think about your health. Dr. Kendra Becker, Naturopathic Doctor, joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut to talk about five lab tests that can help you and your health.

Homocysteine

This is an amino acid produced by the body, usually as a byproduct of consuming meat. It is made from another amino acid, methionine, and then in turn is converted into another amino acids.

Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood appear to make for an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Levels of homocysteine 12 or higher are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and venous thromboembolism, a homocysteine level of 15 has a heart attack rate three times as high as normal. Elevated homocysteine can damage blood vessels, disrupt normal blood clotting mechanisms, and increase the risk of clots that can bring on a heart attack or stroke.

High homocysteine is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B 12, and folate.

Vitamin D

Individuals who use a lot of sunscreen, take a lot of medications, or adhere to a strict vegan diet, are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. We get vitamin D from the sun and a few foods such as fish, liver, oils, and egg yolks.

Vitamin D is essential to strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium in the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t property mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. Increasingly research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems. Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness, can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are more subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose a health risk. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:

  • Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment in older adults
  • Severe asthma in children
  • Cancers
  • Thyroid problems
  • Fertility problems

Iodine Level

Iodine deficiency is a global health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates over 2 billion people may be iodine deficient, with up to 50 million of them suffering from serious symptoms of iodine deficiency, such as brain damage. Unfortunately, imbalance is on the rise in the US. Iodine deficiency symptoms manifest as a result of improper thyroid hormone production. The more serious signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency may vary according to individuals, but usually include the following:

  • Thyroid issues- the most visible called “goiter, “ metabolism issues
  • Mental imbalances such as depression, anxiety, slowed brain function
  • Fetal hypothyroidism (improper functioning of the thyroid in unborn children, leading to brain damage.)
  • Autism
  • Lowered immunity-iodine deficiency leaves us open to free radical exposure, particularly in the thyroid gland, specifically in regard to the accumulation of toxins, This can cause individuals with symptoms of iodine deficiency to experience more colds and flu.
  • More emotional upset and anxiety due to the relationship between iodine and hormone balance; an iodine deficiency disrupts the proper functioning of hormone receptors and communication. This may lead to emotional imbalances, anxiety and a lack of sexual interest.
  • Cysts in breasts. A study reported than 70% of patients given iodine showed a reduction in their fibrocystic breast disease. We know there is a connection between a lack of iodine in women, and breast pain/ tenderness that can accompany the menstrual cycle.
  • Compromised organ function- compromised function of the detoxification organs may eventually lead to overall organ failure.

RBC Magnesium

The serum magnesium (called simply “magnesium” when you see your lab test) can be normal, when at the same time your RBC magnesium is so low you could have a serious illness or event.

When your RBC magnesium levels are low your heart can malfunction.

In the US population, 80% of people are deficient in magnesium. “Normal” is not optimal” and levels should be around 6.0 mg/dL

Mthfr

The methylenetetrahydrofolate (MTHFR) gene produces the MTHRE enzyme. A standard lab test detects two of the most common mutations. When there are mutations or variation of the MTHFR gene, it can lead to serious generic disorders such as homocystinuria, birth defects, increased stroke, and HTN, these individual cannot process FOLIC ACID (synthetic) but can utilize folate (natural) without incident.