Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Want to keep track of your health but aren’t sure where to start? Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or just not as healthy as you should be? These essential blood tests will give you a good idea of where you stand with your overall health and where you can improve. And even if you are feeling healthy, these tests will let you peek under the hood and make sure everything is running well. Read on to find out which 10 essential blood tests everyone should be getting.

Why Regular Lab Testing Is A Smart Idea

CMP blood test

Everyone wants to be healthy. When you are healthy, you feel great! And you want to make sure you feel great most of the time — which is probably why you are reading this article. An important way to make sure you stay healthy is to get regular lab tests. That’s because without lab tests, it is hard to know exactly what is going on in our bodies.

When we are not feeling well, there is only so much we can conclude based on the symptoms we have. More importantly, many serious health problems can be without any symptoms for years before they become recognizable. That is why doctors rely on blood tests to find out what’s going on in our bodies. And so should you!

Taking blood tests on a yearly basis is one of the best steps adults (those of us over 25) can take to maximize well-being and prevent serious diseases. Blood tests can warn you before your health takes a turn for the worse. You can identify and address many issues before they become more serious, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease or other chronic illnesses that plague our modern society. This proactive approach to health could add years to your life, even decades in some cases.

Regular lab testing can also take you a step further than just disease prevention. Taking these tests annually will help you stay on top of your game and maximize the quality of your life. You can use them to improve your mood, libido, cognitive function, and overall energy levels.

Is your doctor already ordering these as a part of your annual check-up? Great — you are on track! For those of us who aren’t as lucky, let this article serve as a little nudge to incorporate regular lab tests into our busy lives. And if you have chronic health issues, these lab tests are a great place to start looking for their root causes.

10 Essential Blood Tests Everyone Should Get

1) CBC (Complete Blood Count)

Complete blood count (CBC) is one of the most commonly ordered tests. And for a good reason. Your blood cells can tell you a lot about your health! CBC lets you know when you have issues with infections or inflammation, but it will also tell you when your diet is not balanced. When you are missing micronutrients, your body won’t be able to produce blood cells normally.

It is important to keep track of your CBC values because many of them have a strong impact on your quality of life and longevity. A high hemoglobin, for example, may be increasing your blood pressure and your risk of blood clots, while a low white blood cell count makes you an easy target for infections.

2) CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel)

As the title suggests, a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a group of blood tests. A CMP lets you know how healthy your liver and kidneys are. It will also tell you if there are disturbances in your blood sugar levels, protein levels, and the overall acid/base balance in your body.

You may know this panel well if you have chronic health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver, or kidney damage. A CMP is often used to monitor disease progression.

If you don’t have these tests available as a panel (some labs and countries don’t) you can also take them individually. A CMP is comprised of 14 biomarkers: glucose, calcium, albumin, protein, sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate (carbon dioxide), AST, ALT, ALP, bilirubin, BUN (urea), and creatinine.

3) Lipid Panel (Cholesterol and Triglycerides)

Lipid panel measures your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These markers are strongly linked to heart disease. To keep things simple, you want to make sure that your good cholesterol (HDL) is high and your bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides are low.

These tests are a bit controversial, and if you are at a higher risk of heart disease you will probably want to keep track of more than just these markers (check tests such as ApoB, Lp(a), and LDL particles). But for most, a routine lipid panel is a great place to start taking care of your heart health!

4) HbA1c

While a blood glucose test shows your current glucose levels, HbA1c will tell you your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. If you are healthy, you should check it at least once a year, while people with diabetes may want to do it as often as 4 times a year.

Apart from being a risk factor for diabetes, high HbA1c levels (even when still in the normal range) increase your risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality. This is one of those markers that you definitely want to keep in the optimal range.

Would you like to know more about optimal ranges? Check out Lab Test Analyzer.

5) hs-CRP

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that fights bacteria and viruses and increases in response to infection. But it also increases in response to chronic stress. You will have higher CRP levels if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, have diabetes, smoke, have periodontal (gum) disease, don’t exercise, and/or are exposed to emotional stress.

CRP can also predict your risk of heart disease. When both CRP and cholesterol levels are high, your overall risk of heart disease increases up to 9-fold [R]! The good news is that there are many things you can do to lower your CRP levels, which is why this is one of the lab tests worth keeping track of.

6) Vitamin D (25-Hydroxy Vitamin D)

Why test your vitamin D levels? Well, because vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, and is especially common in the US. Vitamin D can get depleted if you haven’t been leading the healthiest lifestyle or you are suffering from chronic health issues. Do you experience fatigue, low back pain, muscle aches, digestive problems, obesity, mood swings, and weakened immunity? These are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency!

You can get vitamin D from sun exposure, certain foods, or from supplements. But be careful when supplementing, as too much will cause vitamin D toxicity. For these reasons, it’s a great idea to regularly monitor your vitamin D levels.

7) Iron/Ferritin

Iron deficiency is another common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia. According to both the WHO and CDC, iron deficiency affects up to 60– 80% of the world’s population. On the other hand, some chronic diseases can cause iron overload, which is extremely toxic to our bodies.

That’s why you should occasionally test your iron levels, whether it’s blood iron or ferritin (which reflects your body’s iron stores).

8) Homocysteine

Homocysteine is important to track for several reasons. First, it can tell you if you are folate- or vitamin B12-deficient. Second, high levels increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, depression, dementia, and osteoporosis. Highly elevated homocysteine levels may increase your risk of a heart attack over a five-year period by threefold [R]!

9) Uric acid

Uric acid is a tricky one. Too much uric acid causes kidney stones and gout and increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So the lower the better, right? Not quite. Uric acid is also a natural antioxidant — it makes up to 60% of the blood’s antioxidant capacity. Also, studies show it may protect the brain from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. That’s why you want to keep uric acid in a narrow optimal range.

10) Thyroid hormones (TSH)

Thyroid hormones control the rate of your metabolism. They affect your cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity. An underactive or overactive thyroid can cause issues with weight, energy levels, and mood.

TSH is one of the most commonly tested markers to check thyroid function. A higher-than-normal level of TSH could mean your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), while a lower-than-normal level could mean it’s overactive (hyperthyroidism). Alternatively, you can take a whole thyroid panel, containing a combination of these biomarkers: TSH, total or free T4, total or free T3, T3 uptake, and free T4 Index.

After You’ve Got Your Labs…

You have your lab results. What now?

It’s often the case that your doctor doesn’t have time to explain all of these to you.

Your values may be borderline low or high, but don’t get flagged because they’re within the normal range. Yet you still feel like something is off.

That is why we created Lab Test Analyzer — a tool that easily lets you know which lab results you need to be concerned about, and how to bring them into the optimal range.

Our Lab Test Analyzer can help you keep your lab values in the optimum range by allowing you to keep track of your levels, identifying causes of low or high levels, and giving you evidence-based lifestyle, diet, and supplement recommendations.

If you haven’t yet, start getting regular blood tests. It is a powerful way to take control of your health. And when you upload your results to our Lab Test Analyzer you will be able to relax, knowing that we’ve done the research for you in order to help you achieve your health goals!

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ARTICLE?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...
TWEET
0

6 COMMENTS

  • SteveSenkondo

    Personally i am satisfied with your educational health materials could you please send them direct to my E-mail address?

    1. Caroline Lam

      Hi Steve, if you subscribe to our newsletter, you will get information sent to your email once a week (sometimes more!). Thanks 🙂

  • Janice

    All my tests r coming back fine.I’ve never been in ever. 12mnths ago I got up one morning and was struggling to breathe. Its taken them 12mnths to say I have chronic asthma and that’s it. There r a lot more things happening,horse voice constant chest infection, sore throat. Memory, lots more I’ve researched it and worked out I think I have autoimmune disease. After 12 of 25 courses of antibiotics, in them 12mnths 3 of the months I think it was around 10 to 12 courses of those antibiotics. I’m now on allergy tablets antihistamines 3 different types if inhalers.

  • Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

    Hi Hakon, thanks for your comment. This post does not recommend vitamin D supplementation. In fact, Joe is more a proponent of sun exposure and the fact that it cannot be replaced by vitamin D supplementation. The post also states that ferritin is a measure of iron stores and we have several posts that go into details about the physiology and research about ferritin and iron measurements: https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/ferritin/
    https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/iron-balance-blood-test-iron-deficiency-anemia-overload/

  • Håkon Martin Nilsen Bjerke

    And vit D supplementation deplete retinol necessary for ferroxidase function. Its dangerous to advice hormone D supplementation.

  • Håkon Martin Nilsen Bjerke

    Ferritin is NOT a measure of iron. We have to advance beyond that and any amount of iron supplements are dangerous. You want the ferritin low. Iron is supposed to always be in motion and is monitored by the Ferroxidase enzyme.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.