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Nutritional deficiencies can cause several serious health issues, including anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. It can result from an imbalanced diet or certain health conditions or treatments. This condition can affect a person’s overall health and ability to function from day to day.
Anemia can be diagnosed by testing the levels of key vitamins, folate and iron in the blood. This is one of the best ways to gain insights about the way your diet is impacting your overall wellness and body function.
This is what the test will measure:
Ferritin is a blood protein that stores iron inside cells. Iron plays a critical role in several metabolic processes including carrying oxygen throughout the body and moving electrons within cells. It is also necessary for growth, metabolism and the production of hormones.
A ferritin blood test can indicate if iron levels are high or low. Low levels can indicate anemia, while high levels may be a sign of hemochromatosis or another health condition.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps the body create DNA, nourishes the brain and nervous system, and assists with the formation of healthy red blood cells. Left untreated, a vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal problems, nerve damage and mood disturbances.
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. Folate plays a key role in breaking down homocysteine; an amino acid that can have harmful effects in the body if it is present in high amounts. Folate is also needed to produce healthy red blood cells and is critical during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and fetal development. Folate deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms, including extreme tiredness, a sore red tongue and muscle weakness.
A homocysteine test measures the amount of the amino acid, homocysteine, present in a sample of your blood. Homocysteine levels normally stay low because your body uses vitamins B12, B6 and folate to quickly break down homocysteine and change it into other substances that your body needs. High levels of homocysteine in your blood may be a sign that this process isn't working properly or that you're lacking certain B vitamins.
High levels of homocysteine may damage the lining of your arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body). High levels of homocysteine can also lead to blood clots or blood vessel blockages.
Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, suspended in plasma. Together, those comprise about 45% of the volume of our blood, but the specific percentages of each can vary. Hematocrit is the percentage by volume of red cells in your blood.
Because the purpose of red blood cells is to transfer oxygen from the lungs to body tissues, a blood sample's hematocrit level can be an indicator of its capability of delivering oxygen. If you have too many red blood cells (high hematocrit), your blood gets thicker and the risk of heart attack or stroke escalates considerably.
Hematocrit levels that are too high or too low can indicate a blood disorder, an elevated risk of dementia, dehydration or other medical conditions. An abnormally low hematocrit may suggest anemia.
For those using TRT, it’s particularly important to have your hematocrit levels checked regularly.
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