Top 10 Wellness Blood Tests That Don’t Need a Doctor’s Order
The best way to start directing your own health without the hassel and high cost!
These days, it’s important to take full control of your health. But how are you supposed to navigate through the complicated science of self-care without being a doctor?
A fantastic place to start is by setting a few health goals you’d like to achieve, and then using your blood tests to understand your current condition. This will then show you the path to follow to success. Ordering a few low-cost blood tests is simple. But knowing which tests give you the biggest wellness bang for your buck is key.
“In the absence of disease thinking, disease corrects itself.” — Gary Null, author of Power Aging
As a nation, we seem to obsess about getting healthy. Yet, the rate of chronic disease has been rising exponentially. Should we perhaps use a different way of thinking about our health; one that doesn’t start by searching for a long list of diseases to treat?
I’ve found that many doctors — myself included, until I changed my approach — tend to order a battery of lab tests for patients. It’s a bad habit we’ve developed, likely due to time pressures. But many tests, when ordered routinely and ‘just in case’, offer limited benefits for otherwise healthy people.
A focused approach is better.
Here’s a list of my top 10 wellness blood tests you can order yourself. If something is off when you get your results, or you don’t understand what you’re looking at, be sure to consult a licensed health professional.
#1. Thyroid Screen. Cost = $36
TSH is a standard indicator of high or low thyroid function. Symptoms of a low functioning thyroid (hypothyroid) include obesity, dry skin, thinning hair, fatigue and cold intolerance. Symptoms of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) include heart palpitations, heat intolerance, anxiety, fullness at the base of the neck and a thin physique despite increased appetite.
Serum triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and free T4 index (FTI) should also be ordered to give a more complete picture of thyroid function. When TSH is abnormal but T3 and T4 is normal, you may have a condition called subclinical thyroid disease. Studies show that population reference ranges can be limited for individuals. Doctors shouldn’t dismiss patients with symptoms who have normal lab test results, since thyroid problems are linked with obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance and cholesterol abnormalities.
#2. Fasting Blood Sugar. Cost = $27
There are now 37 million Americans with diabetes, or 1 in every 10 people. Unfortunately, one in five don’t know they have it.
Check your morning lab test after fasting overnight for at least 8 hours. High risk or ‘pre-diabetes’ results range between 100–125 mg/dL. If your result is equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL, you’ll need further investigation to determine if you’re diabetic.
Untreated diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, decreased sensation in the feet, poor wound healing, thickened arteries and heart problems. This is a good test to make sure you don’t have a silent condition and need immediate intervention before things get worse.
#3. Fasting Insulin Levels. Cost = $21
Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in your pancreas and responds to elevations in your blood sugar level, like after eating a meal. High fasting insulin levels could be an indicator that you’re pre- or overtly diabetic.
This test is not routinely ordered by doctors. But, it can be a guide to the presence of insulin resistance and a predictor of diabetes and heart disease, especially when ordered in combination with fasting blood glucose. Caution has to be taken with results as there’s overlap between insulin resistant and normal subjects. Many studies have limitations. Despite this, fasting insulin levels are a simple and practical marker to show potential insulin resistance.
#4. Homocysteine. Cost = $40
Homocysteine is an amino acid that is involved in the inflammation pathway. High levels are a marker that’s often used to indicate heart disease or generalized inflammation. Folic acid in particular, lowers homocysteine by 25%, according to some studies. While not specific for heart disease, it’s often a good place to begin to assess just how inflamed your tissues are, while determining your risk of heart blockages and thickened arteries.
#5. C-reactive protein. Cost = $17
Personally, I love C-reactive protein, if that doesn’t sound too weird! It goes hand in hand with homocysteine, and reflects general levels of inflammation in your body. Inflammation is the root cause of almost all our chronic diseases today, including diabetes among many other conditions. It doesn’t help that we’re exposed to so many foods and chemicals that cause even more inflammation and toxic overload to our vital organs. C-reactive protein is a great test that can let you know how disciplined you’ll have to be to aggressively reduce inflammation in your body.
#6. Vitamin D. Cost = $47
Many conventional doctors are now screening for vitamin D levels, as this appears to have become a worldwide problem. Vitamin D, or 1–25 dihydroxyvitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D, is essential for energy production, bone health, muscle, brain, endocrine and immune function. Vitamin D deficiency may cause muscle pain, weakness, fatigue or depression. Ensuring that your vitamin D levels are in top shape may also help reduce your risk of cancer, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, as well as many complications of infectious diseases such as COVID19 viruses.
#7. Testosterone. Cost = $55 — $100
All adults, male, female and those questioning should still get their testosterone levels checked if they want to stay well. In males, testosterone has been shown to decline between the ages of 25–35, reaching basement levels by age 50!
Testosterone is thought to regulate sex drive, bone and muscle mass, energy, strength, stress and mental function in both men and women. Men are at increased risk for heart problems as they age. Studies show that men using testosterone replacement had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and death when compared to men who were not treated.
Keep in mind, hormonal balancing is complicated and should be managed by a professional. This test can still be a cost effective how-to guide to your next step in achieving wellness goals.
#8. Progesterone. Cost = $47
We normally think of progesterone as a sex hormone for women. But, it’s also known as a neurosteroid hormone, as it can be synthesized locally in the nervous system. According to an article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020), progesterone may have great therapeutic effect in reducing brain damage and promoting neurofunction after brain injury.
Evidence supporting the use of progesterone in men is still emerging. Progesterone is a precursor molecule that produces testosterone in the body while acting as a balance to decrease estrogen. Symptoms of low progesterone may include fatigue, lack of energy, poor sleep, erectile disorders or dysfunction, weight gain, thin bones and dry hair.
Data from human and animal studies show that progesterone can influence both cellular (nonspecific) and adaptive (humoral) immunity and plays a role in reducing the risk of infection.
#9. Magnesium. Cost = $17
As we age, studies show that magnesium levels decline significantly. Magnesium is responsible for over 600 biochemical reactions in our bodies and can support healthy nerve, muscle and cardiovascular health. It’s also beneficial in supporting glucose control in diabetics, and people with high blood pressure. In addition, magnesium may support brain function, reducing symptoms of depression and headache.
Spot check your magnesium levels if your doctor hasn’t done so already, and consider adequate supplementation.
#10. Zinc. Cost = $49
Studies show that zinc levels also decline as we age. Research published in the the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that elderly subjects, after zinc supplementation, were found to have significantly lower rates of infection.
Cellular or nonspecific immunity is our first line of defense against toxins and pathogens in our environment. If this system is weak, it leaves you susceptible to infections that normally wouldn’t be a problem (opportunistic infection). Our immune systems defend us against infectious organisms in the environment. Zinc is a key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Unfortunately, many doctors aren’t routinely testing for zinc levels, but you may find this data beneficial in supporting your wellness goals.
There are many blood tests to choose from, and things can feel overwhelming. The trick to ordering your tests correctly will be to begin with clear goals in mind instead of creating a long list of medical problems that need prescription fixes for each one.
Your personal health conscious approach will help redirect your efforts toward greater success and satisfaction, showing you just how well (and long) you can truly live!
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you need medical attention. Listed prices have been taken from Sonora Quest Laboratories (sonoraquest.com) and Direct Access Laboratories (directlabs.com).
Dr. Natasha Deonarain is the author of The 7 Principles of Health: Your Call to Health Consciousness available on Amazon. She blogs at Jab Vaccine Fund. Hang out on Twitter and Tik Tok @JabVaccineFund for more health related information.