Understanding Lab Work

Understanding Standard Blood Tests

Below you will find a reference guide to standard blood tests.  This is not meant to replace medical advice.  We recommend using this as a guide to help you formulate questions to ask your doctor on your follow up visit.

Albumin- indicates blood vessel condition and fluid pressure.

High:  dehydration, protein gram overload or absorption, hypothyroidism.

Low:  starvation/malnutrition, too much water in the body, liver/kidney problems, vitamin C deficiency, hyperthyroidism and heavy aspirin use.

Albumin/Globulin Ratio- relates to the body's defense mechanism; associated with the liver.

High: increased infection; possible dysfunction of kidney, lowered immunity, vitamin E, zinc, copper and iron deficiency.

Low: anemia, protein malnutrition, possible diabetic ketosis, or colitis.

Alkaline Phosphatase- Indicates how the liver is utilizing protein and fats, a pH balance.  (An enzyme found essentially in bone and liver.)

High: possible decalcification of bone, tendency toward arthritis, bone cell conditions, insufficient calcium/phosphorus, could relate to certain medications, bile duct obstruction, or alcohol related.

Low:  protein malnutrition, vitamin C, folic acid, and zinc deficiency, possible hypoglycemia.

ALT- Alanine Aminotransferase- (a/k/a/ SGPT)- an enzyme related to liver health

High:  vitamin a and/or C deficiency, high fat diet, possible allergies, acute pancreatitis, alcohol and drug related, liver dysfunction, including acute viral hepatitis.

Low:  indicates poor vitamin B6 and copper, excessive exercise.

AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase- (a/k/a SGOT) an enzyme associated with the heart, skeletal muscle, and liver tissue.  Acts as a catalyst in amino acid metabolism during glycolysis, with resultant energy release.  An indicator of estrogen imbalance and of degenerative processes.

High:  allergies, vitamin E deficiency, arthritic in nature, liver complications, heart or muscle problems.

Low:  vitamin B-6 and magnesium deficiency.

Bilirubin, Direct- the most sensitive test for liver function/dysfunction.

High:  possible problem with liver cells, disease.

Bilirubin, Total- the yellow pigment in blood plasma or serum; a function of the infection control system.  Fasting can cause a slight increase in total bilirubin.

High:  fat malabsorption and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, possible lymphatic problems, vitamin C deficiency, potential liver disease or jaundice

Low:  Iron deficiency, anemia, vitamin B12, C, and copper deficiency.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)- Reveals the degree of toxicity of protein to the kidneys.

High:  high protein diet, stress, liver, thyroid, parathyroid imbalance, kidney obstruction (e.g. stones), low vitamins A, C, and/or E, abnormal blood loss.

Low:  protein malnutrition, heavy smoking, tendency toward diabetes.

BUN/Creatine Ratio- relates to kidney removal of water, protein, and tissue residue.

High:  high protein, low water intake, indicates a tendency toward gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage, low calcium/phosphorus ratio.

Low:  low protein/ high carbohydrate diet, deficiency of anti-diuretic hormone (using a a diuretic?).

Calcium-  having to do with bone metabolism: the most important element in the body.  Maintains cardiac regularity and is required for muscle relaxation and contraction;  necessary for enzyme production;  growth and development of teeth, bones and resistance to infection.

High: excessive intake of milk, protein, antacids, or alcohol, bone disorders, possibility of calcium not being absorbed, lack of exercise or sufficient bed rest.  Possible parathyroid gland malfunction.

Low:  malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency.

Chloride- indicates kidney, bladder and bowel function.  Essential for electrolyte balance and pH maintenance.  

High:  high salt intake, severe dehydration, could relate to bowel dysfunction, insufficient green vegetables, liver malfunction, magnesium deficiency.

Low:  susceptible to infections, tendency toward colitis, bladder dysfunction.

Creatinine-  relates to muscle activity and renal functioning.  One of the substances most easily excreted by the kidney.

High:  indicates muscle breakdown to supply protein, high ingestion of meats, kidney distress.

Low:  over stress to kidney (heavy coffee, tea, alcohol), too much vitamin C, compulsive exercise.

Ferritin- It acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload; serves to store iron in a non-toxic form, to deposit in a safe form, and to transport it to areas where it is required.  The serum ferritin level correlates with total body iron stores; the most sensitive lab test for iron deficiency anemia.

High: iron is in excess, acute malnourishment, infection, anoxia or cancer; hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis and porphyria.  As ferritin is also an acute-phase reactant, it is often elevated in the course of disease.

Low:  risk for lack of iron, which could lead to anemia; may also indicate hypothyroidism or vitamin C deficiency.  Has been connected to ADHD in children, specifically, the lower the iron level, the more severe the ADHD symptoms; associated with the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, even in the absence of anemia and sickness.

Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT)- an enzyme found mainly in the liver, kidney, pancreas and heart.

High:  liver and pancreatic disease, myocardial infarction, possible liver congestion, infection, sensitive to alcohol and certain drugs.

GFR EST (eGFR) Glomerular Filtration Rate Estimated- Indicates kidneys health.  A calculation of the actual glomerular filtration rate.  The formula includes your age, gender, height and weight;  Reese may also be used in the calculation.The Value over 60 is preferred.  

Low:  Indicates level of damage:  45-59 equals early stages; 30-40 equals moderate damage; 5-29 people's severe damage; Less than or equal to 15 equals kidney failure.

Globulin- Essential to the antibody-antigen response; Needed to fight infections; important in blood clotting. Valuable in assessing degenerative and infectious processes.

High: Allergy, a sign of arthritis.

Low: Low protein digestion, infection related.

Glucose- Measures blood sugar levels, the bodies chief source of energy.  It affects all organs, systems and tissues.  Determines the acid/alkaline balance (pH). This, in turn, affects your behavior and body weight.  Fasting or not fasting affects test levels.

High:  Hyperglycemia, lack of exercise, questionable diet, lack of insulin, toxemia, and tendency toward diabetes.

Low:  Hypoglycemic, hypothyroidism, excessive insulin output, protein malnutrition.

Hemoglobin A1C- Used to screen for and diagnose diabetes in addition to monitoring the glucose control of diabetics overtime.  Provides an accurate long-term index (100-120 days) of the average glucose levels prior to the blood test.  Below 6.0 is desirable.

High:  Hyper glycemic and tendency toward diabetes.

Note:  The following tests, Iron, Iron Binding Capacity, and Iron (Transferrin) Percent Saturation are looked at together to assess the bodies iron level and utilization.

Iron- Critical to red blood cells ability to carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, helps remove toxin residue from cells.

High:  Deficient in vitamins E, B-6, folic acid and copper, iron overload, hemochromatosis.

Low:  Anemia, protein malnutrition, causes fever, lack of energy, diminished body functions.

Iron Binding Capacity, Total (TIBC)- Measures the blood's capacity to bind iron.

Iron Binding Capacity, Unsaturated (UIBC) About one third of your blood's transferrin is always working to transport iron.  That leaves considerable extra iron-binding capacity known as Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity, or UIBC.  When we add the amount of transferrin and the UIBC we get the total iron binding capacity.  Some laboratories will measure UIBC, some TIBC, and some just transferrin.

Iron Percent Saturation (See Transferrin)-  Relates to iron overload, hemochromatosis.  It compares the amount of iron in the bloodstream to the capacity of the red blood cells to transport iron.

Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH)- Indicates blood acidity and balance of water with sugar; how sugar gets into the cell, functions as a catalyst in carbohydrate metabolism.

High:  Diabetic tendency, strenuous exercise, alcohol related, present in myocardial infarction and pulmonary conditions.

Low:  Hypoglycemia tendency, possible edema, fatigue.

Magnesium-  Critical to smooth muscle function, including heart, gastrointestinal tract and uterus;  Helps regulate acid-alkaline (base) balance in the body.  Aids in absorption and metabolism of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium;  Also utilization of vitamin B complex, C, and E. Regulates body temperature.

High:  infection.

Low:  Malnutrition, alcoholism, and excessive use of diuretics.

Phosphate, Inorganic-  helps maintain tissue acidity and aids in bone formation, also complementsand facilitates calcium usage.

High:  hyperthyroidism, alcoholism, bone disorder, blood disorder, non-fasting effect.

Low:  stress related, chronic infection, low energy and reduced immunity.

Potassium- essential to heart and kidney function and the maintenance of pH of both blood and urine.  It maintains regular heart rate and muscle force thus helps to prevent heart and muscle fatigue.

High:  overuse of potassium supplements, kidney disorder, relates to congestive heart failure and renal failure, low vitamin E, insufficient exercise and deep breathing.

Low:  tendency toward weak heart, alcohol related, folic acid deficiency, low fluid intake, tow potassium intake low fruit and vegetable intake.

Protein, Total-  necessary for tissue function, growth and repair.  Also fluid balance and protection against infection.  Key building blocks of the body.  Cannot be made from carbohydrates or fats.  Used to make enzymes, antibodies, clotting factors, and transport substance.

High:  indicates incomplete assimilation or non-use of protein, dehydration or loss of fluid.

Low:  incomplete protein digestion, poor nutrition, vitamin B, D, and zinc deficiency.

Sodium-  essential to acid-base balance and intra/extra cellular fluid exchanges of normal body water distribution.  

High: high sodium-salt diet, low water intake, relates to toxins, headaches, weak back muscles, low potassium levels, fluid imbalance and lack of physical activity.

Low:  lack of trace minerals, loss of fluids, and loss of sodium in diarrhea or vomit.

Uric Acid- end product of protein utilization.  Meat (especially liver and kidneys), shellfish, and beans are high in uric acid.  

High:  gout, incomplete protein assimilation, relates to rich foods, alcohol, stress, restaurant food, high protein weight loss diets, high folic acid diets.

Low:  incomplete protein digestion, acidic pH, low in zinc and niacin.

Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)-  measures the body's capacity to bind iron.

Transferrin-  a molecule used to move iron around your body.  It catches iron and can release it very easily.  Although iron bound to transferrin is less than 0.1% of total body iron, it is the most important iron pool.  The affinity for transferrin for iron is extremely high (pH 7.4) but decreases progressively as the system becomes more acidic.

Low: iron deficiency anemia.  Levels of serum iron and total iron binding capacity are used in conjunction with transferrin to specify any abnormality.