TRTL Report Glossary of Terms

This is a glossary of terms for all the items that can appear in your TRTL.Report. The content below includes information directly from https://labs.selfdecode.com

ALB

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Albumin is a blood protein that delivers vitamins, minerals, and medications all around the body. It is often tested because it can provide important clues about your overall health. Read on to learn more about this important protein, what high and low values mean, and how to improve your health based on your albumin levels.

What is Albumin?

Albumin Definition

Albumin is the most abundant protein in human blood, accounting for 50 to 60% of all the protein in the blood. It’s made by the liver, circulates throughout the body in blood, and a very small amount may pass through healthy kidneys into urine [1].

What Albumin Does and How It Functions

Albumin maintains the osmotic pressure that pulls water into the circulatory system. The pressure inside blood vessels exerted by pumping of the heart (hydrostatic pressure) creates a force to push fluids out of veins and arteries into the surrounding tissue. Albumin prevents this by drawing fluids in due to osmosis.

Albumin binds hormones, vitamins, drugs, fatty acids, minerals, and other substances in the blood, carries them throughout the body, and delivers them to body tissues. Albumin has many locations where substances can attach to.

Albumin is also the main antioxidant in blood. It works by binding with metals and reacting with free radicals, which prevents them from reacting with other parts of the body and causing damage [2].

ALP

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Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that helps fight off bad bacteria in the gut. It improves digestion, makes your bones strong, and keeps your mind sharp. Both high and low blood levels can be problematic. Read on to learn about its role in the body and whether your values are normal.

What is Alkaline Phosphatase?

Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found in all tissues in the human body but is mostly concentrated in the bones, kidneys, liver, intestines, and placenta. It exists in different forms, depending on where it originates from [1].

Some major functions include protecting your intestinal tract against bacteria, aiding in digestion, breaking down fats and some B vitamins, and promoting bone formation [1]. Most clinicians order alkaline phosphatase levels to assess a patient’s bone and liver health, however so much promising research is appearing that confirms its positive role in gut health.

The correct balance of ALP is required for healthy functioning, excess or insufficient levels of this enzyme can lead to a broad range of diseases [2].

Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found throughout the body. Balanced levels support digestion and bone health.

ALT

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Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an important marker of liver health. Keep reading to find out why this marker is often part of liver function tests – and when you should be concerned about your levels.

What is ALT?

Definition

Alanine aminotransferase or ALT (also known as SGPT) is an enzyme your body needs to break down proteins into energy [1, 2].

Healthy liver cells store most of ALT, but small amounts are also found in the kidneys, heart, muscles, fat tissue, intestines, and pancreas [3].

Normally, blood ALT levels are low. However, when liver cells are damaged due to illness, injury, or medication, they release ALT, increasing its blood levels [4].

Therefore, ALT blood levels are a marker of liver health: low levels typically indicate a healthy liver, while high levels suggest liver damage [5].

Most of ALT is safely stored in the liver. When there is liver damage, ALT leaks into the bloodstream.

Before we talk about the ALT blood test, let’s take a look at what ALT normally does in the body.

Function

ALT helps turn L-alanine and alpha-ketoglutarate into glucose that can be used for energy (via pyruvate) and L-glutamate which can be eliminated as waste or used to build new proteins [6, 7, 8, 9].

AST

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Aspartate aminotransferase is an enzyme involved in the balance of proteins (amino acids). Levels of this molecule in the body can be used as a sign of liver disease and other health problems.

People go to their doctor to get their AST tested as part of a standard panel. Almost always, the results are not scrutinized, even though we know that you can be healthier and live longer when your results lie within optimal ranges. When I used to go to doctors and tried to discuss my results, they had no clue what these meant from a health perspective. All they cared about was whether they could diagnose me with some disease.

Read more to learn more about the function of AST, its associated diseases, and how to raise and lower levels of this molecule.

What is Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)?

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST), also known as SGOT, is an enzyme that breaks down proteins for energy. It is found mainly in the liver and heart, but also in many other tissues, including the muscles, red blood cells, kidneys, and the brain. When any one of these tissues is damaged or diseased, AST is released into the blood [12].

AST levels are often measured to check overall liver health. However, as mentioned above, increases in AST levels can also be due to damage to other organs, such as the heart, kidneys, or muscles. Therefore, AST is often paired with other tests in order to determine the specific location of the problem.

The rest of the article will elaborate on the function of this protein, how different levels of this enzyme may impact your health, and how it can serve as a marker for the disease.

Function

Aspartate aminotransferase is one of the key enzymes involved in the aspartate (amino acid) pathway. At a macro level, this pathway impacts the overall metabolism of amino acids and fats (fatty acids). The aspartate pathway also has partial roles in detoxification (urea cycle) and glucose production (gluconeogenesis) [3, 4].

At a micro level, the direct chemical reaction that aspartate aminotransferase accelerates is the conversion of an amino acid (aspartate) and acid (alpha-ketoglutarate) to a different acid (oxaloacetate) and amino acid (glutamate). This conversion is vital for other metabolic processes such as the urea cycle, glucose generation, and glucose breakdown (glycolysis) [3, 4].

Basophils

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Basophils are most often only considered as defenders against parasitic infections. Yet, scientists think their role in the body is much more extensive. Basophils play a role in allergic reactions, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. Read on to learn more about them.

What are Basophils?

Basophils are a type of white blood cells. They protect the body and help it to get rid of bacteria and parasites. Abnormal basophil levels have been implicated in allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases [12].

Function

The innate immune system (or inborn immunity system) contains a set of mechanisms that allow the body to defend itself against harmful substances.

Basophils are a part of the innate immune system as they can quickly react to foreign organisms and substances. They become activated when they come into contact with foreign molecules, IgE, or some specific signals from other cells [345].

Most of the functions of basophils depend on the release of heparin and histamine at the site of inflammation. They store them in special structures called granules. When basophils become activated, they release their granules [6].

Histamine expands blood vessels and increases blood flow. Heparin is a well-known anti-clotting agent. It also helps to maintain proper blood flow by balancing clotting processes. This allows all necessary cells and substances to get to the site of inflammation from the bloodstream [78].

Activated basophils are also the source of the cytokines IL-3 and IL-4. Scientists suspect that these molecules enhance the activity of both basophils themselves and other immune cells, potentially shifting the Th1 / Th2 balance towards Th2 [6910].

Calcium

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Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is essential for healthy bones, but we also need it for the proper function of our nerves and muscles. Read on to understand more about testing calcium and what important factors affect calcium levels in the body. We’ll also discuss a common, yet often missed cause of high calcium levels.

Why is Calcium Important?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It has many important functions, including [1]:

  • Keeping our bones and teeth strong
  • Enabling nerve and muscle function
  • Helping in blood clotting
  • Ensuring proper enzyme function

Approximately 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth. The remaining 1% of calcium circulates in the blood [1].

Cholesterol

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Cholesterol plays a key role in the body – it helps produce hormones and balances nutrients. But too much cholesterol can block arteries, lead to heart disease and an array of other problems. Read on to learn about healthy cholesterol levels and which lifestyle and dietary changes can help you lower them.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipids (sterol) used to build cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D. You get cholesterol from different animal-based foods such as eggs, meat, butter, and whole-milk dairy products. This fat is often seen as the “bad guy” since many people worldwide struggle with high blood cholesterol levels. But low cholesterol can be equally problematic, although much less common.

Cholesterol is extremely important for your body. In fact, humans have over 100 genes that affect cholesterol production, movement, and breakdown [12].

Properly balanced cholesterol levels are vital for dietary nutrient absorption, hormone levelsreproductive health, fluid and salt balance, as well as for your calcium statusIn the adrenal cortex, cholesterol is broken down into pregnenolone, which is used to make all sex hormones [12].

What’s more, cholesterol helps cells communicate and transfers various important molecules into or out of cells. No cell in your body could do without it [1].

Most cholesterol is created in the liver and gut, while smaller amounts are made in other organs [3].

The starting point for producing it in the body is lanosterol. On average, humans make 10 mg/day of cholesterol per kg of body weight – but this is highly individual and depends on many factors. If you eat foods high in cholesterol, less needs to be made in the body [13].

Most people associate cholesterol only with negative health consequences. And it’s true that although a certain amount of cholesterol is vital for your health, high levels can be very dangerous.

High cholesterol is a common problem  mostly due to an unhealthy diet or lifestyle, although genetic factors can also play a large role. High cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease by clogging the arteries [1].

Importantly, it’s not just a matter of whether you have high cholesterol in general. Not all cholesterol is created the same, LDL being the more dangerous or “bad” type. HDL, on the other hand, is usually protective. Their ratio can be much more important than total cholesterol levels.

Creatinine

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The urine creatinine test can reveal a lot about the health of your kidneys. If you have kidney disease, your levels will be low. On the other hand, exercising often, being muscular, and eating a meat-heavy diet can increase creatinine. Read on to understand how this test works and how to interpret your results.

What is Creatinine?

Creatinine is a waste product created from the normal wear and tear of muscles. It is produced from creatine, a protein needed to generate the energy for muscle contractions [12].

Its production essentially reflects lean body mass, and because this mass changes little from day to day, the production rate is fairly constant. Women, children, and older people tend to have lower levels of creatinine compared to adult men because they have less muscle mass [1].

Creatinine is removed from the body by the kidneys, which filter almost all of it from the blood into the urine. Thus, urine creatinine levels can be used as a measure of kidney health [314].

If kidney function is impaired, creatinine levels in urine decrease.

Creatinine is a waste product of your muscles that your kidneys need to flush. Poor kidney health lowers creatinine levels in the urine.

EGFR

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eGFR is a measure of how well your kidneys are working. It is often reported automatically when you do a creatinine blood test, as a part of your comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). Read on to learn more about this marker, what it means when your values are outside of the normal range, and how you can increase your eGFR levels.

What is eGFR?

GFR

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is the amount of blood filtered every minute by tiny filters in the kidneys called glomeruli. Although it may sound complicated, in essence, it measures how well your kidneys are working [1].

The main job of our kidneys is to remove waste and excess water from the blood. This excess water and waste become urine. Kidneys process about 50 gallons (180 liters) of blood every day to produce about 50 ounces (1.5 liters) of urine. When the filtration rate decreases that means the kidneys are not working well and may mean there is kidney damage [2].

GFR is affected by many factors, such as [1]:

  • Time of day
  • Dietary protein intake
  • Exercise
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Antihypertensive drugs (used for reducing high blood pressure)
  • Acute and chronic kidney disease
Eosinophils

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Eosinophils are white blood cells that play a role in the immune response. They help fight infections, mainly by parasites, and are involved in allergies and inflammation. But when they get out of control, they may cause damage to the body.

Read on to learn more about eosinophils, their role in our health and disease.

What are Eosinophils?

Eosinophils are a special type of white blood cell. Like other blood cells, they are produced in the bone marrow [1].

They circulate in the blood for short periods of time. When activated, eosinophils move into the affected tissue and secrete inflammatory substances that help destroy the foreign organisms [1, 2, 3].

They are primarily known to help combat intestinal parasites, but their role in the immune system is much more complex [4].

Sometimes, when there are too many of them, eosinophils can also cause damage to tissues [1].

Function

Eosinophils help fight infections by releasing toxic substances that can kill pathogens and generate inflammation. They can also “devour” (phagocyte) bacteria [4, 5].

Eosinophils protect us against infections caused by:

Eosinophils also help protect against future infections by bacteria, viruses, and parasites by activating acquired immunity (acting as antigen-presenting cells) [15].

In addition, eosinophils can help keep the immune system balanced. They help control the response to foreign antigens (structures that antibodies bind to). These include food and microorganisms (harmful and beneficial, e.g. microbiota). Eosinophils also help prevent immune cells from attacking the body’s own tissues [2, 1617].

Finally, eosinophils increase inflammation, which is beneficial in some situations, but can be harmful in others. Eosinophils can activate mast cells, which are special cells that generate inflammation when activated [18].

FBS

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A fasting blood sugar test is one way to check for and monitor diabetes. Both high and low blood sugar levels can be dangerous. Read on to learn more about the test and causes of high or low blood sugar levels. We will also go over the best strategies to lower your blood sugar levels to successfully prevent or manage diabetes.

What is a Fasting Blood Sugar Test?

Procedure

A fasting blood sugar test is also called a fasting blood glucose test. It measures your sugar levels after fasting for at least 8 hours. Glucose is the main sugar found in your bloodstream and high levels after fasting may point to diabetes.

While fasting before the test, you can still drink water (unless otherwise directed by your doctor), but anything like coffee, tea, juice, and sodas should be avoided. A healthcare professional will draw blood for a vein in your arm, which will be sent to the lab for analysis [1].

After a meal, your blood glucose levels will normally increase over a few hours as you break down and absorb dietary carbohydrates. In healthy people, the pancreas will produce insulin to move glucose into tissues and out of the bloodstream. Thus, glucose levels will gradually drop after eating and stay low during fasting [2, 3].

People with diabetes either don’t have enough insulin to reduce blood glucose (type 1 diabetes) or their body cannot effectively use insulin (type 2 diabetes). In a fasting blood glucose test, diabetics will have much higher blood sugar levels than non-diabetics, which can lead to many health problems in the long run [4, 1].

A fasting blood sugar test measures your blood glucose levels after fasting for at least 8 hours. High levels may point to diabetes.

GGT

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Tests for gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) are important in the diagnosis of liver/biliary tract disease and useful in identifying alcohol abuse. Read on to learn more about the function of GGT, its health effects, and ways to lower GGT levels.

What is GGT?

Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is a cell surface enzyme. It is located throughout the human body with the highest levels being in the kidneys, intestines, liver, prostate gland, and gallbladder. Smaller amounts are found in the pancreas, lungs, testis, and thyroid gland. The liver produces most of the GGT in the blood [1, 2, 3].

GGT is elevated in liver/biliary tract disease or as a result of moderate to excessive alcohol consumption.

Higher GGT levels also increase the risk of several diseases and may point to health problems. This article will cover the functions of GGT, its role in diagnosing or predicting disease, and ways to lower GGT levels in the body.

Function

The primary function of GGT is the breakdown and recycling of glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the human body [4, 5].

It increases the number of available amino acids (especially cysteine), that are used to make glutathione inside the cell [6].

GGT is also involved in:

  • Breaking down drugs and toxins
  • Forming amino acids important for the brain and heart (gamma-glutamyl-taurine to taurine)
  • Transforming inflammatory molecules (leukotriene C4 to leukotriene D4) [4, 7]
HbA1c

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HbA1C is an indicator of your long-term glucose levels. This lab test is used to aid in the diagnosis of diabetes and prediabetes. In general, the lower the HbA1C within the normal range, the better. As the number climbs, it increases the risk of diabetes and chronic disease. Read on to find out why you should regularly check your values and whether they are in the normal range.

What is HbA1c?

Definition

Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is an important indicator of long-term glucose levels and has been recommended for use in the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (DM) by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and World Health Organization (WHO) [1].

HbA1c is created when glucose binds to hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells [2].

HbA1c is sugar bound to hemoglobin in red blood cells. It can help diagnose diabetes.

How High Blood Sugar Creates HbA1c

Red blood cells (RBCs) are exposed to glucose in the blood. The higher the blood glucose level gets the more HbA1c forms throughout the lifespan of a red blood cell [3].

The lifespan of a red blood cell varies from person to person but averages out to approximately 117 days in men and 106 days in women. Therefore, the HbA1c is an index of average blood sugar levels over the preceding 2 to 3 months. Of this 2 – 3 month period, the immediately preceding 30 days contribute 50% to HbA1c [3].

Normal adult hemoglobin consists predominantly of HbA1, of which HbA1c comprises approximately 5% [4].

However, HbA1c does not always correlate with blood glucose levels. It is possible to have high blood glucose but low HbA1c due to the presence of hemoglobin variants, inflammation, or other factors that increase red blood cell turn over.

If your red blood cells live longer than 90 days or they are smaller (as measured by MCV in a blood test), then your HbA1C will be artificially higher.

High blood sugar creates HbA1c in red blood cells, which live for 2-3 months. Thus, HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar levels over this time span. In some health conditions, HbA1c can increase or decrease regardless of blood sugar levels

HCT

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Hematocrit is the percentage of red blood cell volume compared to your total blood volume. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to help power biological functions. More oxygen may mean improved cognition and increased endurance.

What Is Hematocrit?

Hematocrit (also called HCT, packed cell volume, or PCV) is measured by routine lab tests. It is the percentage of red blood cells in your blood or, in other words, the volume of red blood cells divided by the total blood volume [1, 2, 3].

Red blood cells come from the bone marrow, where they are made from stem cells. The body makes about 2 million red blood cells every second. Every red blood cell lives about 120 days and then eventually ages, dies, and is broken down by the spleen [4].

Red blood cells carry oxygen, so an increase in hematocrit also increases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. However, higher hematocrit also increases the thickness (viscosity) of blood, reducing its ability to flow through small blood vessels and reach the tissues in the body. Therefore, higher hematocrit isn’t always better for health [5].

Hematocrit affects a variety of processes, from throwing off the accuracy of blood sugar measurements to controlling the behavior of platelets and blood clotting proteins [6, 7, 8].

Based on a hematocrit measurement, it is possible to calculate other values that are used to predict, estimate, or evaluate [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]:

  • Disease risk
  • Disease severity
  • Surgery-related risks
  • Blood viscosity (which is related to blood flow)
  • Blood loss
  • Rate of treatment (e.g., a dose) needed

Test results vary based on a number of factors, ranging from what kind of device is used to take the measurement to whether you have been drinking enough fluids [17, 2].

Dehydration is a common cause of high hematocrit results [2].

Sitting up (as opposed to lying down) during a blood draw can also increase your results [18].

HDL

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HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol because it helps to remove the “bad” cholesterol from the body and is required for many vital processes within the body. Having high levels of HDL cholesterol has been shown to decrease your risk for heart disease. Read on to learn how to increase HDL levels with simple lifestyle and dietary modifications.

What is HDL Cholesterol?

HDL-cholesterol is cholesterol bound to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, which are made in the liver and consist of proteins and fats (lipids). They are called high-density because they contain the highest proportion of protein to lipids, making them denser than other types of lipoprotein particles such as LDL [1].

HDL particles help remove excess cholesterol from the blood by [234]:

  • transporting it to the liver, where it becomes a part of bile and is excreted through feces
  • taking it to adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes, where cholesterol is converted into steroid hormones (e.g. cortisol, estrogens, testosterone)

Cholesterol transported by HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because it is being removed from artery walls, which helps prevent, reduce, and even reverse hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart disease [2].

HDL also plays a role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, improving cell and immune function, enhancing insulin sensitivity, and may protect against neurodegenerative disorders [5, 6, 7].

HGB

Hemoglobin is an extremely important protein. As an essential part of red blood cells, it delivers oxygen to all parts of the body. In this post (Part 1), we go over the roles, health benefits, but also the potential negatives of hemoglobin. In addition, we discuss hemoglobin lab tests, normal values, and reference ranges.

What is Hemoglobin?

Hb Structure

Human hemoglobin (Hb) consists of four proteins (subunits) called chains. Most of the normal adult hemoglobin is built of two alpha- and two beta-chains [1].

Each of the four chains contains a ‘heme’ part. ‘Heme’ is the molecule containing iron. It binds oxygen, carbon dioxide, or other small molecules such as nitric oxide [21].

The iron found in hemoglobin is responsible for the red color of the blood.

Hemoglobin Function

The main function of hemoglobin is to transport oxygen from the lungs to tissues, and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the tissues to the lungs [3, 4].

However, it also interacts with two other gases, carbon monoxide (CO) and nitric oxide (NO) [3].

The human body contains about 750 g of hemoglobin, mostly contained within red blood cells (RBCs) [5].

A mature red blood cell contains ∼270 million hemoglobin molecules [5].

Finally, each Hb molecule is capable of binding up to four oxygen molecules, enabling each red blood cell to carry over one billion oxygen molecules [5]!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824146/

The oxygen-carrying function of hemoglobin is affected by [1]:

  • pH – lower pH (more acidic) in tissues increases the release of oxygen and stimulates the binding of carbon dioxide. Higher pH (more alkaline) in the lungs causes carbon dioxide to be released and stimulates the binding of oxygen
  • Levels of other molecules (hydrogen ions, carbon dioxide, 2,3-bisphosphoglyceric acid, IHP, chloride, and phosphate) – In people acclimated to high altitudes, the concentration of 2,3-BPG in the blood increases, which allows a larger amount of oxygen to be delivered to the tissues
  • Temperature – Increases in temperature decrease oxygen saturation of hemoglobin

Note that inside the body, the pH and temperature are generally within a very narrow range, from 7.35 – 7.45 and 97.0 – 99.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 – 37.7 degrees Celsius), respectively [6].

Apart from the blood, studies suggest that hemoglobin may also play some unexpected roles in other tissues. Hemoglobin chains have also been found in white blood cells (macrophages), blood vessel walls (endothelial cells), lungs (alveolar cells), eye lens, kidneys (mesangial cells), and dopamine-releasing neurons [7, 8].

A study suggests that in the blood vessel walls, hemoglobin may help control the level of nitric oxide, and thereby may participate in the constricting or expanding of blood vessels. This means that hemoglobin may influence blood pressure, blood flow, and oxygen delivery to tissues from outside red blood cells [8]. Click here for more detail

LDL

LDL-Cholesterol, or normally just referred to LDL, transfers fats around the body and supports immune function. However, too much LDL can block blood flow in the arteries and cause heart disease. Continue reading to learn about healthy LDL levels and how to lower LDL without medication.

What is LDL-Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that’s a key component of cells. It’s also used by the body to make steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogens, cortisol, aldosterone etc.), bile, and vitamin D [1].

Cholesterol that’s found in the blood is bound into particles called lipoproteins. You can think of lipoproteins as the vehicles and cholesterol as the passenger. These lipoproteins differ in density (vehicle size):

  • LDL-cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol
  • HDL-cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol
  • VLDL-cholesterol or very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is also a “bad” cholesterol

LDL-C forms in the blood when very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) loses some fat (triglycerides) and becomes denser. It’s removed by the liver [2].

LDL- cholesterol is considered the “bad cholesterol” because it deposits in blood vessels. Cholesterol can penetrate arterial walls where it combines with oxygen (oxidizes). This is a key step in the development of hardening of the arteries and heart disease [32].

LDL-C Components

LDL carries the most cholesterol of all lipoproteins. It is the major cholesterol carrier in the body. LDL contains [4]:

  • Cholesterol
  • Fats (triglycerides and other fats)
  • Protein (Apoprotein B-100)

Functions of LDL

  • Transfers fat and cholesterol around the body for cells to use [2].
  • Binds certain toxins, making them unable to trigger harmful immune responses. LDL binds toxins produced by bacteria (Staphylococcus) and the toxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) [5, 6].
  • Helps repair damaged blood vessels. When arteries become damaged, LDL binds to the artery wall to aid the healing process. This helps the artery in the short-term but can be harmful long-term [7].... Click here for more
Lymphocytes

Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells.

The different types of lymphocytes mostly differ on their site of maturation and functions [1].

There are three different types of lymphocytes: natural killer cells, B cells, and T cells.

  • Natural killer cells (NK cells) kill tumor cells and virus-infected cells.
  • B cells produce antibodies. The antibodies attack cells foreign to the body (bacteria, toxins, and viruses).
  • T cells destroy the body’s own cells, including cancerous cells or those that have been taken over by viruses.

Lymphocytes can produce cytokines, which are small proteins that are important for immune system responses, inflammation, and infections [2].

Lymphocytes are a part of the immune system. The innate immune system responds to pathogens in a generic way but does not have long-lasting protection. The adaptive immune system responds to pathogens by using memory from previous encounters of a pathogen [3].

One gene, LSP1 (lymphocyte-specific gene 1), is expressed in lymphocytes (and other cells as well). LSP1 transduces signals between white blood cells [4].

Mature lymphocytes undergo programmed cell death. This helps preserve homeostasis and tolerance in the body [5].... click here for more details

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that helps improve gut health, prevent eclampsia, and potentially improve a wide variety of health conditions. Is there enough in your diet? Find out here.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in our body [1]. It is essential to all living cells and vital for numerous physiological functions [2].

Magnesium is required for the production of ATP (the main source of energy in our cells) [3], and the production of DNA, RNA, and proteins [4].

Magnesium plays an important role in cell-to-cell communication [5].

Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium to function properly [3].

Because of its positive charge, magnesium stabilizes the cellular membranes [2].

Magnesium is important for:

  • bone health [6]
  • muscle contraction and relaxation [5, 7]
  • heart rhythm and blood pressure [6]
  • stabilizing blood glucose levels, and regulating sugar and fat metabolisms [6, 8]
  • neurotransmitter production and regulation [5]
  • neural function [6]
  • the immune system [6] .... click here for more details
MCH

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) measures the amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. It can be used to help diagnose blood and iron-related disorders. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of low and high MCH and what you can do to address abnormal levels.

What is Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH)?

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) is a measure of the average amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the protein that stores (binds) oxygen, which is what allows your blood to transport oxygen throughout your body [1, 2].

MCH is normally part of a complete blood count, which measures your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell count. Doctors can use MCH to help diagnose different types of anemia [1, 2].

MCH values usually (but not always) parallel those of mean corpuscular volume (MCV), which is a measure of the size of your red blood cells. This means that when your red blood cells increase, MCH usually follows [1]. This makes sense because bigger red blood cells can fit in more hemoglobin. ... click here for more details

MCHC

MCHC can help diagnose different blood disorders, such as anemia. Keep reading to find out what causes high and low MCHC, and how to address them.

What is MCHC?

MCHC is normally a part of a complete blood count, which measures your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is the average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell, relative to the size of the cell. In other words, it tells you what percentage of your blood cells are made up of hemoglobin, the protein that helps transport oxygen in the blood [12].

Decreased MCHC causes hypochromia (“hypo-” = low, “chromia” = color), which makes the red blood cells paler. Meanwhile, increased MCHC causes red blood cells to become darker, also known as hyperchromia [23].

In short, MCHC is an indirect measure of how much hemoglobin you have. The added value of this test over direct hemoglobin is that it adjusts for the rate of the production of red blood cells [4+].

In many cases, when hemoglobin production is reduced, the production of red blood cells is likewise reduced. However, in some cases, hemoglobin production can be reduced, while red blood cell production can increase. This can help differentiate specific conditions from one another [4+].

Gut bleeding is an example where both hemoglobin and red blood cells may be reduced in a similar fashion, due to blood loss [4+].

However, in iron deficiency, hemoglobin can go down, while red blood cells can be less affected. In these cases, MCHC would be lower than when there is blood loss [4+]. ... click here for more details

MCV

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) measures the size of your red blood cells. It can be used to help diagnose blood disorders, such as anemia. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of low and high MCV and how to address them.

What is MCV?

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is the average size (volume) of the red blood cells in your body. It is normally measured as part of a complete blood count, which measures your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell levels [1].

Along with the red cell distribution width (RDW) test, MCV is used to diagnose many diseases, including anemia, thalassemia, liver disease, and iron deficiency [1]. ... click here for more details

Monocytes

Monocytes are the largest of all white blood cells and play an important role in the defense against germs and in inflammation. Read on to learn about the normal range of these cells and the health implications of abnormal levels.

What are Monocytes?

The Front Lines of Your Immunity

Monocytes are the largest type of white blood cell. Approximately 2 to 10% of white blood cells are monocytes [1].

These immune cells circulate in the blood for several days before they enter the tissues, where they become macrophages or dendritic cells [12].

Monocytes protect against viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoal infections. They kill microorganisms, ingest foreign particles, remove dead cells, and boost the immune response [3142].

However, they can also be involved in the development of inflammatory diseases like arthritis and atherosclerosis. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how monocytes work and how they may be implicated in disease [567].

Monocytes can kill microbes, boost your immunity, and remove dead cells. Once they enter your tissues, they become macrophages.

Production

All blood cells originate from common parent cells called hematopoietic stem cells. In adults, blood cells are produced mainly in the bone marrow; this process is called hematopoiesis. The process of monocyte production in particular is called myelopoiesis [89].

Myelopoiesis is subject to a complex regulatory system, including such factors as:

  • Transcription factor SPI1 [10111213].
  • Cytokines: SCF (stem cell factor), GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor), M-CSF (macrophage colony-stimulating factor, CSF1), IL-3IL-6, and IFN-gamma [14151617].

Stem cells in your bone marrow produce monocytes and other blood cells. Different transcription factors and cytokines control this process.... click here for more details

MPV

Do you bruise more easily than others? If so, you may have a problem with your platelets, disk-shaped cell fragments that help stop bleeding. A mean platelet volume (MPV) test can help determine your platelet size and activity. Higher or lower MPV may be a sign of bleeding disorders or bone marrow disease. Read on to learn more about what an MPV blood test can reveal about your health.

What is MPV?

An Overview of MPV

When your platelets are not working properly, you may have an increased risk of bleeding and bruising.

To find out what’s going on, in addition to a standard platelet test that checks the number of platelets in your blood, your doctor may also order a mean platelet volume (MPV) test, which measures the average size of platelets (thrombocytes). If more platelets are being produced in the body, their average size will usually increase as well. This test can offer insight into your overall platelet function and activity.

Platelets are tiny cell fragments that are formed from budding off of very large cells in the bone marrow called megakaryocytes [1].

Once platelets are in the bloodstream, they live for about 8 to 10 days and are then destroyed. Around a third of all platelets are stored in the spleen [1].

The main function of platelets is to prevent excessive bleeding when we are injured. When you cut yourself, for example, platelets stick together to plug the site of injury. Other clotting factors are then recruited to the scene to prevent further bleeding [2].

But platelets are not just the “band-aids” of the circulatory system. Recent studies show that they also contribute to inflammation, defend against microbes, release growth factors to assist in wound healing, and help form new blood vessels [3].

Platelets come in different shapes and sizes. Newly produced platelets are usually larger while older platelets are smaller [4, 5, 6, 3]. Also, when platelets are activated, they change from a disc-shaped cell into a spherical-shaped cell [7].... click here for more details

Neutrophils

Neutrophils are white blood cells that are vital to the immune system. They help fight against infections and prevent inflammation. Keep reading to learn more about these cells.

What are Neutrophils?

Neutrophils, also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), are white blood cells that protect from bacterial, fungal, and other infections [1].

They are the most abundant white blood cells in the body. They contain granules, which are important for antimicrobial effects [1].

Like other blood cells, neutrophils are produced in the bone marrow [2, 3].

However, they have a very short lifespan. They survive for less than 24 hours in the blood and will undergo self-destruction automatically [2].

Neutrophil Function

Neutrophils are first-responders at sites of infection and inflammation [14].

The primary function of neutrophils is to prevent infection by attacking pathogens that try to invade the body [5].

Their quick response makes them the first group of immune cells to participate in the body’s immune response. They produce antimicrobial substances and proteases (enzymes) that help degrade and kill microbes [5].

Neutrophils can also recruit cytokines (CXCL2, CCL3, IL-6TNF-a) for the body’s inflammatory response to infection [5, 6].

After they finish defending the body against pathogens, some neutrophils activate macrophages (large white blood cells) to help with their removal. The limited lifespan of a neutrophil helps prevent further tissue injury and excess inflammation [7]... click here for more details

Phosphate

Phosphate (Phosphorus)  is the second most abundant mineral in the body, essential for energy, bone, heart, lung, and brain health. Learn more about phosphorus, the cause and effects of low blood levels, and ways to increase them.

What is Phosphorus?

Phosphorus is the sixth most abundant element in the body after oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and calcium. It is the second most abundant mineral and makes up about 1% of our body weight [1, 2].

Phosphorus is mainly found as phosphate in the body. The terms phosphate and phosphorus are often used interchangeably, although they don’t have the same meaning [2, 3]. Phosphorus is an atom, while phosphate is made when phosphorus is bound to oxygen (4 oxygen atoms).

85% of phosphorus in the body is stored in the bones. The remaining 15% is scattered in tissues throughout the body [4, 5].

Phosphorus has many important roles [2]:

  • Helps build cells, DNA, and proteins
  • Crucial for strong bones and teeth
  • Vital for energy metabolism, as the “P” of ATP – the “energy currency” of our cells
  • Required for muscle contractions and sending out nerve signals
  • As the most abundant anion (negative ion) in the body, phosphate helps maintain the acid-base balance (pH)

Blood phosphate comprises a very small part of total body phosphate. Nevertheless, it gives a good estimate of phosphate levels in the body [6]. ...click here for more details

Platelets

Platelets are vital for blood clotting and wound healing. However, having either too few or too many platelets can cause health issues. Keep reading to learn more about platelets, underlying causes of abnormal platelet counts, and how to improve them.

What are Platelets?

Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are small blood cells that help blood to clot. When a blood vessel gets damaged, platelets gather at the damaged site and make a plug (clot). Clotting helps slow down and stop bleeding and helps wounds heal [1].

Like other blood cells, platelets are made in the bone marrow. They survive in the circulation for about 8-10 days which is why the bone marrow needs to continually make new ones, to replace old, used ones, or those lost through bleeding [12].

Apart from wound healing, platelets are also involved in immune system defense and inflammation [34].

When there are too many or too few platelets, you can experience problems with blood clots or wound healing [3].

A platelet count can be used to:

  • Help diagnose various issues such as bleeding or clotting disorders or bone marrow disease
  • Monitor a known underlying health condition
  • Monitor a treatment with drugs known to affect platelets... click here for more details
Potassium

Potassium is an electrolyte that is key to nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and fluid balance. Abnormal levels can be a sign of underlying health issues. Learn about the causes and effects of low and high potassium levels. and what you can do to improve them.

What is Potassium?

Potassium in The Human Body

Potassium is an essential mineral and positive ion that has many important functions in our bodies.

Potassium [123]:

  • controls blood pressure
  • helps balance fluids
  • is needed for nerves and muscles to communicate
  • helps store nutrients, including glucose, inside of cells

The majority of the body’s potassium is located inside the cells, where it is involved in the production of proteins, helps maintain water balance, plays a role in cell division and accelerates chemical reactions [45].

The largest storage of potassium in the human body is in the muscles [1].

The blood levels of potassium, called serum potassium in medical literature, amount to only about 2% of the total body potassium [1].

Potassium is absorbed through the gut and removed by the kidneys through urine [16].

Testing potassium is important for evaluating kidney, heart, and adrenal health.... click here for more details

RBC

The primary function of the red blood cell is to transport oxygen to all parts of the body. Inflammation and nutrient deficiencies can reduce red blood cell numbers or their ability to effectively deliver oxygen. This condition is called anemia. However, having a high red blood cell count can also have a similar oxygen-depleting effect.

In this post, you will learn about the ways to increase or decrease red blood cell count.

What are Red Blood Cells (RBCs)?

Over 99% of the particles in the blood are cells called red blood cells (RBCs), or erythrocytes, due to their red color. Red blood cells look like a disc with indentations in the middle so they can bend easily to squeeze through narrow blood vessels [1].

Each red blood cell contains the protein hemoglobin, which transports oxygen [1].

In tiny blood vessels in the lungs, RBCs pick up oxygen from inhaled air and transport it through the bloodstream to all parts of the body.

Our cells need oxygen to function and make energy. At the same time, carbon dioxide is released as a waste product from the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats for energy. The RBCs pick up the carbon dioxide and transport it back to the lungs. There we exhale it when we breathe out [1].

Beyond Oxygen

Aside from oxygen and carbon dioxide, RBCs can also pick up or release hydrogen ions and nitric oxide [1].

By picking up or releasing hydrogen ions, they help keep the pH level (acid/base balance) of the blood steady [1].

When RBCs release nitric oxide, nitric oxide can cause the blood vessels to expand, which leads to a drop in blood pressure [1].... Click here for more details

RDW

RDW or red blood cell distribution width is a measure of how equal your red blood cells are in size. It can help your doctor diagnose various blood-related disorders and diseases. In addition, it is also increased in seemingly unrelated disorders and diseases that nevertheless affect blood cell production and lifespan. These include inflammatory, autoimmune, liver, kidney, and heart disease. Keep reading to learn why having a high RDW is bad and how to improve your values.

What is Red Blood Cell Distribution Width (RDW)

A normal red blood cell is shaped like a disk with a depressed center. It is very flexible, which enables it to change shape – this is needed for a red blood cell to squeeze through the narrowest of blood vessels called capillaries [1].

Normally, red blood cells are relatively equal in shape and size. However, in some conditions and diseases, red blood cells can have a distorted shape or be smaller or larger than normal while still maintaining their core function (oxygen and carbon dioxide transport) [1].

Red blood cell distribution width (RDW) is the variation of the size/volume of your red blood cellsBasically, it tells you how equal or unequal your red blood cells are in size. It is a part of a complete blood count, which also measures your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red and white blood cell counts [2, 3].

Low values mean that your red blood cells are roughly similar in size, which is normal and desirable. Higher values mean that your red blood cells are produced in different sizes. In other words, there is some issue with red blood cell production or survival [2, 3, 4].

Along with the MCV (mean corpuscular volume), MCH (mean corpuscular hemoglobin), and MCHC (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration), a high RDW can serve as a sign of several underlying diseases, such as anemia [2567]:

  • Anemias
  • Iron and vitamin B12/folate deficiency
  • Inflammation
  • Injuries and bleeding/hemorrhage
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hereditary red blood cell disorders, such as thalassemia .... click here for more details
Sodium

Sodium is an essential element in the blood, which plays an important role in water-electrolyte balance, blood pressure, muscle, and nerve function. Keep reading to find out what low or high sodium levels mean, and how you can increase or decrease them.

What is Sodium?

Sodium is a positive ion and one of the body’s main electrolytes, which are minerals we need in relatively large amounts. It plays vital roles in controlling blood pressure, fluid balance, and the acid-base balance in the blood. In addition, sodium is needed for proper nerve and muscle function [1].

Table salt (sodium chloride) and the natural salt content in foods are the main sources of sodium in the diet. Adults need less than 500 mg sodium/day in order to maintain normal sodium levels in the body. However, 95% of the world’s population consumes between 3 and 6 g/day, which is much more than necessary [12].

Healthy sodium levels in the body are maintained in a narrow range by [134]:

  • Hormones that increase (natriuretic peptides) or decrease (aldosterone) kidney excretion of sodium through urine
  • Hormones that prevent the loss of fluids together with sodium (antidiuretic hormone)
  • Thirst. Normally, even a very small (2–3%) increase in blood sodium induces thirst, and sodium levels go back down to normal once the person drinks water

Dietary sodium deficiency is extremely rare, even among people on very low sodium diets. Sodium levels may fall below normal under extreme conditions of heavy and continued sweating, or in cases of heavy injury, chronic diarrhea, or kidney disease where the body is unable to hold onto sodium [12].

Blood sodium can increase above normal when people don’t drink enough water or have an excessive salt intake. It can also increase due to health issues such as kidney disease. Elevated sodium is more common in the elderly, because of a decline in kidney function and a lower intake of liquids [567]. ... click here for details

TBIL

Bilirubin is a product of the normal breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells. It’s usually measured to check for liver disease or gallbladder issues. However, scientists are also uncovering the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of this molecule. Read on to learn what high and low bilirubin levels mean, and why a higher level within the normal range may be optimal. ... click here for more details

Bilirubin Definition

Bilirubin is a yellow compound produced from hemoglobin, the compound in red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen. As red blood cells are broken down, the iron-containing part of hemoglobin (heme) is converted to bilirubin.

Bilirubin passes through two phases. In the first phase, bilirubin binds to a protein called albumin, which allows it to be carried from the blood and into the liver. Bilirubin in this phase is called “indirect” or “unconjugated” bilirubin.

The second phase takes place in the liver, which attaches sugar molecules to the “unconjugated” bilirubin. This makes it water-soluble, which helps the gut eliminate bilirubin in the stool. Bilirubin in this phase is called “direct” or “conjugated” bilirubin.

Total bilirubin is the sum of direct and indirect bilirubin levels.

Bilirubin and its breakdown products are responsible for the yellow color in jaundice patients, urine, and feces [1].

However, bilirubin is not just a waste product. In recent decades, science has been uncovering the beneficial roles bilirubin plays in our bodies. Research suggests that bilirubin may act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and that it may protect against chronic inflammation and heart disease [23456789].

TP

What is Total Protein?

Proteins are one of the building blocks of every cell. They also play an important role in many biological processes. They are essential for growth and development, nutrient and hormone transport, and immune function [1].

Normally, albumin makes up for slightly more than half of the proteins in the blood (serum, the liquid part of the blood), and the remainder of the protein count are the globulins [2].

Total Protein Test

This test measures albumin and total globulin levels in your blood. A healthcare professional will collect a blood sample from your vein and send it to a lab for analysis. The test is normally ordered as part of a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)... click here for more details

TRIG

High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Read on to find out if your levels are within the normal range and to learn which factors and conditions can increase triglyceride levels.

What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are the scientific term for fats, including the fats you eat in your diet and the fat that is stored in your body. They are formed from a combination of a compound called glycerol and three fatty acids [1].

Dietary triglycerides are digested and absorbed in the small intestine. They are then packaged together with cholesterol and proteins in particles called chylomicrons, which carry triglycerides from the gut to other tissues [2, 3].

The liver can also produce triglycerides from sugars and other fats. It does so when you eat a lot of carbs or more calories than your body needs [456].

Triglycerides can be stored in fat tissue, or can be used as energy [2].

For example, the body can release stored fats into the bloodstream as fatty acids when you don’t eat for a prolonged time. These fatty acids travel back to the liver, which transforms them into triglyceride-containing very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) that are returned into the blood [7].

On the other hand, your body stores more triglycerides when you overeat or have an unhealthy diet [8].

Burning triglycerides for fuel requires a special enzyme (lipoprotein lipase), which is found in the muscles [1].... click here for more details

TSH

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is considered to be the “master controller” of your thyroid. TSH stimulates your thyroid gland to produce the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control how fast your metabolism runs. Read on to find out how TSH works, why doctors order the TSH blood test, and whether your levels are within the normal range.

What is TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone)?

The “Master Controller” of Your Thyroid

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), also known as thyrotropin or thyrotrophin, is made by the pituitary gland. The pituitary secretes TSH into the bloodstream, through which it travels to the thyroid gland. The main purpose of TSH is to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce the main thyroid hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) [1, 2].

Since the thyroid needs TSH’s cue to produce hormones, TSH is often viewed as the “master controller” of thyroid function.

The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck, below the Adam’s apple. It absorbs iodine from the blood to make T4 and T3 hormones [3].

The thyroid is important for your overall health because thyroid hormones play major roles in almost every part of the body, including the brain, heart, and liver. They control your metabolism, heart health, mood, and so much more [3].

TSH from the pituitary stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3, which control how fast your metabolism runs.

Thyroid activity is controlled by the hypothalamus, which produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to tell the pituitary gland to make TSH, thereby causing the thyroid to produce more T4 and T3 when levels are low. If T4 and T3 levels are high, the hypothalamus reduces TRH production and thus, less TSH is made. This process helps keep T4 and T3 in balance [4].

So even though TSH works as the thyroid’s main switch, T4 and T3 can fine-tune it with the help of the hypothalamus. They do this to prevent their own levels from getting too high (or too low), which maintains balanced thyroid function.

High enough levels of T4 and T3 can decrease TSH. ...click here for more details

UREA

Urea is an important measure of kidney health, liver health, and protein turnover. A urea blood test is often ordered as a part of a comprehensive metabolic panel, which gives a broad overview of a person’s metabolic and overall health. How do doctors use this test? Read on to find out.

What is Urea?

Urea is a waste product that the liver makes when it degrades proteins, both from the diet and from tissue protein turnover [1, 23].

On a normal/average diet, we produce about 12 g of urea each day [3]. The bulk of it, about 10 g each day, is eliminated by the kidneys [3].

A small amount of urea (less than 0.5 g/day) leaves the body through the gut, lungs, and skin. During exercise, a substantial amount may be lost through sweat [3].

Blood urea levels represent the balance between urea production (in the liver), urea breakdown, and urea elimination by the kidneys [4].

Therefore, urea can be a useful indicator of kidney health and liver health. It is also used to check for severe dehydration.....click here for more details

URIC ACID

Uric acid can build up in the blood eventually causing gout and kidney stones. Read this post to learn more about uric acid, how it’s made, and which factors increase its levels in the body. At the end of the post, we also review lifestyle and dietary changes that can help decrease uric acid levels.

What Is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is made in the liver. It is the end-product of the breakdown of purine, which is produced in the digestion of certain proteins and DNA, that gets released into the bloodstream when cells get old and die. Some purines are also derived from food [12].

In normal conditions, the majority of uric acid is removed by the kidneys via urine, while the rest is eliminated in the stool. However, if too much uric acid is produced or not enough is removed, it can build up in the blood [3]. Uric acid can then deposit in the body, causing kidney stones or gout [45].

In addition, research suggests that higher uric acid levels may increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes [6378].

On the other hand, scientists have discovered that uric acid is not solely a waste product. In fact, studies suggest that uric acid acts as a natural antioxidant and may be responsible for up to 60% of the antioxidant capacity in the blood. In addition, uric acid may protect the brain by preventing neurodegenerative conditions [9101112].

That is why balanced uric acid levels are important for overall well-being.... click here for more details

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the skin makes upon exposure to direct sunlight. Read on to learn about the potential benefits of vitamin D supported by science and find out why maintaining normal blood levels is so important for good health.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin the body needs to build and maintain strong bones. It helps absorb calcium in the gut, keeping calcium and phosphorus in balance to mineralize bones. Vitamin D also helps support immune balance [1].

Without enough vitamin D, bones can become thin, weak, brittle, or misshapen. Getting enough vitamin D prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Along with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis [1].

Some scientists view vitamin D as a prohormone because it is involved in many metabolic processes in the body [23].

The body naturally makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Getting regular, moderate sun exposure is a safe way to maintain normal vitamin D levels during the summer months.

Vitamin D is also found in certain foods, such as fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Additionally, many vitamin D supplements are available on the market.

Many older adults don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight. The elderly also tend to have poor vitamin D absorption and less elastic skin, which puts them at a higher risk of deficiency. Taking a supplement with vitamin D may be beneficial for bone health in such cases [1].

Taken at the recommended doses, vitamin D supplements are considered safe. However, taking too much can be harmful. Vitamin D supplements may also interact with prescription medications. Remember to talk to your doctor before supplementing!

Strong evidence points to the importance of vitamin D for maintaining strong bones. Supplementation may be beneficial in people who can’t get enough of this vitamin from sunlight and food. ...click here for more details

VLDL

The effects of high VLDL cholesterol, how to best measure it and maintain healthy levels is still a hot topic of research. It is clear, though, that high VLDL is a major risk factor for heart disease and may contribute to chronic inflammation. Read on to learn more about VLDL-C and find out which lifestyle and dietary changes can help lower VLDL-C levels.

What Is VLDL Cholesterol?

VLDL-cholesterol (VLDL-C) is cholesterol bound to very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particles. It transports triglycerides (fats) and cholesterol in the bloodstream [1].

Only a couple of decades ago, it was thought that high cholesterol in the blood was the main cause of heart disease. Now it is obvious that this picture is incomplete and that the levels of different particles that carry cholesterol in the body are more important than total cholesterol levels [2, 3].

There are several types of particles that carry cholesterol through the blood, such as VLDL, HDL, and LDL, each with different effects on the body and functions. These particles are all lipoproteins, made up of both fats (lipids) and proteins. Since fats do not easily dissolve in the blood, lipoproteins help to transport them [34].

Lipoproteins are named according to their density and size. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is the densest and smallest of the three. LDL and VLDL stand for low-density lipoprotein and very-low-density lipoprotein, respectively. Cholesterol that is bound to these two types of lipoproteins is also referred to as “bad” cholesterol [3].

VLDL Function

VLDL is made in the liver after the body absorbs fat from dietary sources. It transports triglycerides (with fatty acids) to the muscles and fat tissue, where they are deposited. In return, VLDL takes up cholesterol from the tissues. As it loses triglycerides, VLDL becomes LDL – a particle rich in cholesterol and low in triglycerides [4]. ...click here for more details

WBC

White blood cells are immune cells that help fight infections and diseases. Read on to learn what high or low white blood cell counts could mean.

What Are White Blood Cells?

White blood cells, or leukocytes, help the body fight infection. The five types of white blood cells are basophils, neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes [1].

There are associations between white blood cell (WBC) count and the proteins in red blood cells, heart rate, weight, cholesterol, uric acid, creatinine, sex, ethnic origin, blood pressure, height, and blood sugar in both men and women [2].

Having a high level of white blood cells is bad, but for some people having too low of a level means that they won’t be able to effectively fight infections. ...click here for more details

Zinc

Much like other essential nutrients, zinc plays many important roles in the body, including its role in the immune system [75].

Zinc is essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells. Because of the critical role it plays, even a mild deficiency can impair immune function and increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections. Scientists found that zinc deficiency, which is common in older people, reduces immune defenses and increases the risk of walking pneumonia and other infections [767778798081].

According to some estimates, zinc deficiency contributes to about 16% of lower respiratory infections [82].

You may be at risk for zinc deficiency if you [838485]:

  • have a digestive disorder
  • are pregnant or lactating
  • are an alcoholic
  • are vegetarian
  • have diabetes or prediabetes
  • have sickle cell disease

If you suspect that you have a zinc deficiency (symptoms include: diarrhea, frequent infections, hair loss, eye and skin conditions, delayed wound healing, impotence, and loss of appetite), your doctor can check your levels by ordering a blood test [86].

Studies suggest that in the elderly and in people who have immunodeficiency (e.g., sickle cell disease, HIV infection), zinc supplementation can restore immune function and the resistance to infections [87888990]. However, it’s important to dose with zinc carefully because excessive levels can have the exact opposite effects by suppressing immunity [919293].

If you are deficient in this nutrient, work with your doctor to devise a supplement plan that best works for you and your health condition.

Zinc is an important nutrient essential for a proper immune response. Studies suggest that zinc deficiency lowers immune defenses and increases the risk of getting certain infections. ...click here for more details

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