Have you visited your doctor for a routine check-up recently? It’s common for them to request specific blood work as a way to monitor your health. However, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to understand what the results mean and how they impact your life. Here is some information to help you better understand what your results mean.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for multiple body systems. In particular, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium to maintain strong bones and muscles. It also keeps your immune system strong and helps you feel more energized. Your body makes it naturally when you are out in the sunshine, but people’s busy lives often prevent them from getting outside enough. Some common symptoms of a deficiency are:
- persistent body aches and pains
- muscle weakness
- easily broken bones
- relentless tiredness.
- an overall sick feeling
When you take a blood test, the results display the level of vitamin D in your body. A normal range is 50 to 100 micrograms per deciliter. If your levels are low, consider spending more time outside, increasing your intake of salmon or opting for a supplement.
Another standard measurement is your cholesterol level. Your liver produces this fatty substance, known as a lipid, which aids in creating some hormones and vitamins and repairing cell membranes. Since cholesterol can’t move around your bloodstream on its own, your body encases it in a lipoprotein. Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoproteins are the measurements that doctors look for on a blood test. The LDL builds up in your arteries and can cause blockages leading to a stroke or heart attack. On the other hand, HDL removes the LDL from the arteries and returns it to the liver, so higher HDL levels are beneficial for your health.
If your total cholesterol or LDL is higher than average, try making the following changes to improve your health:
- Avoid fatty red meat and choose lean chicken, fish or beans for your source of protein.
- Don’t eat junk food and processed foods.
- Increase the number of fruits and vegetables you consume.
- Substitute baked for fried foods.
- Add ground flaxseed, oats and garlic to your diet.
- Exercise regularly.
While cholesterol is an indicator of heart health, your A1C determines your risk for diabetes. This test gives you a measurement of the number of sugar-coated hemoglobin proteins in your blood, which can indicate diabetes. This is an ailment where your body has difficulty moving sugar from your bloodstream into your cells because it doesn’t process insulin correctly. Your cells require sugar, or glucose, to obtain the energy necessary for daily functioning. An A1C result of less than 5.7 is considered within a normal range, while levels above are cause for concern.
One mineral necessary for blood production and getting oxygen from your blood cells to your lungs is iron. An overabundance of iron can indicate hepatitis or liver disease, while a lower amount can indicate anemia or internal bleeding. If your test results suggest anemia, you can choose to take a supplement or increase your intake of red meat such as beef liver, leafy green vegetables and beans. Your doctor may also suggest taking an iron supplement if you prefer not to eat those foods.
There are a variety of tests that you can do with a few vials of blood. These analyses give you better insight into your health and make you aware of what’s going on internally. Knowing when a problem arises early allows you to adjust your diet and behaviors and possibly reverse the condition or prevent it from worsening.