3 Lab Tests You Should Ask For
Naturopathic Doctors Can Order Lab Work
It’s Naturopathic Medicine Week! I feel so fortunate to work in a career I love, helping the community and patients I love more! So I thought I would share with you one fact you may not know about Naturopathic Doctors. We can order lab work! I order lab work routinely for my patients whether that’s standard blood work, hormone testing or food sensitivity testing. Many of my patients come in with low energy or hormonal concerns and it’s important to establish a baseline or identify possible deficiencies specifically with routine blood work.
One key difference in how I interpret blood work is that I’m not only looking for pathology (diagnosis of disease) but I’m also looking to optimize health and prevent disease. This is the main difference between pathological and functional analysis of blood tests. There are 3 important factors to consider when looking at blood work :
- Reference Ranges- The majority of reference ranges are too broad
- Variations between Labs- Depending on the lab used, the reference range varies
- Pathological Analysis vs. Functional Analysis- Most doctors will only be concerned with lab values that fall outside of the reference range. This is a reactive approach to health, as we’re waiting until the body can no longer compensate before we give it any support. Functional analysis looks at optimizing the body’s physiological, biochemical and metabolic processes by using more narrow reference ranges to prevent disease and optimize health.
My Top 3 Lab Tests You Should Ask For
If you’re like many of my patients, it’s been a few years since you’ve had your blood tested . Here are my top 3 tests you should consider having performed.
- Thyroid Panel Testing- your thyroid is one busy organ and could be responsible for symptoms such as low energy, hair loss, constipation, low mood and difficulties losing weight. Although TSH is the test most commonly run, it only gives us a glimpse at how the thyroid is functioning. It’s important to also analyze Free T3 and Free T4 which are our thyroid hormones at the tissue level. Free T3 is our active hormone while Free T4 is covered to T3 at the tissue level. Multiple factors can interfere with active Free T3 so it’s important to have a full view of the all the thyroid hormone activity. Thyroid antibodies are also important to evaluate so as to establish whether the immune system is at play. Tests performed are TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and TPO.
- Ferritin- is a lab value that assess your Iron stores. This is especially important for menstruating women, women hoping to become pregnant, vegans and vegetarians. Common symptoms of low iron are dizziness, low energy, hair loss and weakness. The common issue I see with Ferritin is the broad reference ranges. Many woman will be experiencing fatigue and weakness and because their ferritin is within the “normal” range their doctors tell them their lab work is normal. On further investigation, more times than not, the value is just above the acceptable value. For example, some labs use less than 11 ug/L as the lower limit. I have had many woman come to my office with low energy symptoms and their ferritin levels are 12 ug/L but told their iron was fine. From a functional standpoint, 12ug/L is not optimal and supplementation would be required to improve energy.
- Vitamin D- unfortunately is no longer covered by provincial plans as Canadians are assumed to be deficient. There are 2 tests 1,25- hydroxy and 25-hydroxy that can help to identify deficiency status as well as possible dosing schedule. Low Vit D can also suggest depletion of other fat soluble nutrients such as Vit A, Vit E and CoQ10.
So if it’s “been awhile” since you’ve had a full blood panel workup, book an appointment at the office to have a full functional blood screening to optimize your health and get you feeling your best!