Did you know blood test results for things like vitamin D and ferritin levels can be normal, but not healthy? If you’ve ever had normal lab results but still FEEL lousy, this article is for you!40% of people and 61% of elderly adults in America are vitamin D deficient. Click To Tweet
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
Normal Vitamin D Levels: Good Enough?
When Nutrition World founder Ed Jones sat down with James LaValle, author of “Your Blood Never Lies” on the Holistic Navigator Podcast, they talked about the importance of learning to read your blood test results.
Typical health professionals consider “normal” lab results to be good results, but that might not be the full picture. Ed and James explain: When lab companies set their ranges, they usually reflect the middle 95 percent of people tested (who are assumed to be healthy). This means that most physicians wouldn’t look at your blood levels until they’re extremely high or extremely low.
Another issue with normal lab ranges is this. As our population’s overall health declines, the normal range will also follow. A 2009 a study showed that vitamin D levels dropped 6 ng/mL from their 1988-1994 to their 2001-2004 data. So as vitamin D deficiency increases, normal ranges become less helpful for detecting health issues before they become diseases.
Optimal Ranges: A Better Way
The good news is that Functional Medicine has given us optimal ranges to manage our health. Optimal ranges (different from normal ranges) can be used for all of your blood test results. They show us where we NEED to be to feel healthy and symptom-free. Using optimal ranges allows us to make corrections before disease happens, when it’s much easier to correct problems.
Ferritin and vitamin D levels are good examples to work with. The normal range most labs use for Vitamin D is 30-100 ng/mL. The functional range, however, is 50-80 ng/mL. A vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL, would show as “normal” on standard lab reports. However, using the optimal range, that would be treated as an insufficiency or deficiency.
Moreover, with blood levels below the optimal range, you’d likely already be experiencing some deficiency symptoms, such as fatigue, frequent illness, or flattened mood. Using the optimal range, you gain the opportunity to correct the deficiency before you even start to feel symptoms.
What is Ferritin?
A similar scenario applies to ferritin. The “normal range” of ferritin levels on standard labs for women would be 30-400 ng/mL for men or 15-150 ng/mL for women. But the optimal range is 100-300 ng/mL for men and 50-150 ng/mL for women.Blood ferritin outside of optimal levels can indicate an iron deficiency, or an iron overload, which can cause mitochondrial or free radical damage. Click To Tweet
Knowing your ferritin levels is important to insure against iron deficiency, but also to guard against iron overload, which can cause mitochondrial damage. According to Dr. Mercola, even slightly elevated ferritin levels can lead to excess free radical damage, so optimizing your health plan to keep those levels at the optimal range offers a significant benefit.
Why Are Your Vitamin D Levels So Important?
Vitamin D is involved in many important functions throughout the body. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common worldwide, and a large percentage of Americans also have low vitamin D levels. In fact, 40% of adults and 61% of elderly adults are deficient in this important nutrient.
A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to many health issues. It can cause bone loss, impair cognition, cause hair loss, and weaken immunity. Low vitamin D levels are also scientifically linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Depression, and other common diseases. And because vitamin D doesn’t stay in your body for very long, your levels can drop quickly if you don’t maintain consistent intake or exposure to sunlight. For these reasons, it can be helpful to test your vitamin D levels regularly.
Trends: Not Just for Fashion
Trends are another important factor when interpreting blood test results. It’s helpful to review your test results over time. If your values are moving in the wrong direction, you can take corrective action before it causes disease. During our Holistic Navigator interview, LaValle shared this example: “While a blood sugar level of 95 is normal, every point above 84 represents a ‘65% risk of being a type 2 diabetic in the next decade.'”Your Vitamin D Levels Are Normal, But Are they Optimal? Click To Tweet
So, if your blood sugar is 80, and a year later, it’s 85, and then a year after that, it’s 87, something is going in the wrong direction.
Paying attention to trends in bloodwork provides opportunities to treat insulin resistance before it becomes Diabetes. On the other hand, if we only take action when the blood sugar result exceeds 95, now we’re managing disease and not creating health. The same is true for other important blood test metrics, including vitamin d levels, ferritin levels, and more. The resources shared in this article will help you spot and act on trends in your own lab results.
Trends are also important while monitoring vitamin D levels for at least two reasons. First, vitamin D doesn’t stay in the body for long. Levels can drop quickly without consistent supplementation, especially if you live in a place with long winters, or if you take certain medications. Testing for vitamin D levels can also help ensure your levels don’t get too high.
What happens if My Vitamin D Levels Get Too High?
Vitamin D overload can cause a number of symptoms, including gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, dizziness, hallucinations, confusion, loss of appetite, and kidney problems. While it’s rare, vitamin D levels that are too high can cause hypercalcemia, or a buildup of calcium in your blood. This can cause bone reabsorption. Often, vitamin D overload and toxicity are caused by high levels of supplementation over an extended period of time. To avoid overload, aim for blood levels within that optimal range of 50-80 ng/mL.
Another benefit of understanding your lab results includes optimizing your supplementation.
We can maximize our health-building efforts if we know where we need the most help. Then you can save your budget for supplements you know you need. Blood test results can also help you find the best dietary approach for your metabolic needs. Some people thrive on a keto diet, while others need something different. When you can fully interpret your blood tests, you can determine which one fits your body best. This can save time and money, bypass a lot of trial and error, and avoid supplement burnout.
Already have your results? Visit us in Chattanooga, or make an appointment with a health coach. We’d love to help you build a supplement plan to improve your numbers!
Try Our Vitamin D Test Kit
So how do we learn how to read our blood test results? Thanks to changes in laws and advances in science, there are more options available to the public than ever before. Those options can get overwhelming, but not to worry. Here are 3 great options for you:
- Get a copy of Your Blood Never Lies. Learn how to read your own results. LaValle’s extensive experience providing customized integrative healthcare in Chicago taught him that most patients needed help understanding their labs. He wanted to empower patients. “I think it’s really important for people to actually empower themselves so that they can feel well, because no one’s going to take care of you better than you are. You need to be the captain.”
- Sign up for Metabolic Code. James LaValle’s company uses extensive knowledge of customized, integrative health. They’ll decode your results in a simple report. They also provide supplements and other products you need to improve scores that aren’t going in the right direction.
- Speak with one of our wellness consultants. Our practitioners can help you understand your numbers. They’ll also create a customized health plan and provide you with all of the products you’ll need to execute it.
- Get your bloodwork done right here at the store. Our consultants can help you choose the right tests, save money, and get tests that your regular doctor may not offer. They can also help you interpret the results.
No matter what your health goals are, our staff is excited to provide you with the information and tools you need to become the captain of your health team. Happy testing, and here’s to your health!