Biomarkers are measurable substances in our bodies that can predict, diagnose, or ideally help prevent illnesses. Lab tests can measure your levels of a variety of biomarkers and your physician can help you interpret the results and spot any problems.
Biomarkers That Will Help In Health Optimization
When measuring biomarkers, remember that “normal” is not always “optimal”. Lab companies aggregate the data from their recent test results and set a range of “normal” for those patients. So, if a lot of their patients happen to be heavy drinkers, a lab might calculate a score of 41 to be a “normal” level of the biomarker AST which relates to liver function. But in reality, you want your AST down below 37 to be healthy. This is why biomarkers are something to discuss with a physician.
Depending on your overall health and any special conditions, your physician might recommend monitoring some specific biomarkers not on this list. But here are ten important biomarkers for optimizing overall health in most people.
1. Vitamin D
Optimal Range = 50-100 ng/dl
In addition to playing a lead role in maintaining healthy, fracture-free bones, vitamin D is also known to catalyze protein synthesis, regulate electrolyte metabolism, gene expression, and immune system functions. Yet some research concludes that up to 80% of people’s vitamin D level is significantly below the ideal range.
2. CRP (C-REACTIVE PROTEIN)
Optimal Range < 0.5 mg/L
CRP is an inflammatory biomarker whose levels have been highly predictive of future cardiovascular illness like heart attack, arterial disease, stroke, and diabetes. Excessive CRP levels can increase your risk of heart attack by as much as 300%.
3. Hemoglobin A1C
Optimal Range = 4.6% – 5.5%
A1C is an accurate predictive and diagnostic biomarker associated with preventing and diagnosing diabetes. Your hemoglobin A1C level is essentially a 90-day average of your blood sugar levels. Certain foods and conditions can cause blood sugar to spike normally in healthy adults, so a single measurement of high blood sugar is not always a problem. But the HbA1C test shows the ongoing state of blood sugar over time.
Optimal Range = 2 – 5 uIU/ml
Fasting insulin levels are reliable predictors of longevity because they show how consistently our blood sugar level has been elevated. Higher insulin levels are associated with higher mortality rates in cancer patients.
5. RBC Magnesium
Optimal Range = 6 – 6.5 mg/dl
RBC Magnesium is simply the magnesium in your red blood cells. The distinction is important because most blood tests measure magnesium only outside the cells, which is not the biomarker we’re describing here. Magnesium is central to more than 300 enzyme pathways integral to all our energy-forming metabolic reactions. RBC magnesium can be an important biomarker for longevity.
Optimal Range = 700 – 900 ng/dl (TOTAL testosterone) and 150 – 225 pd/ml (FREE testosterone)
Low testosterone in men is linked to increased mortality, as much as 33% greater death risk compared to their peers with higher testosterone. With testosterone, it is also important to measure both TOTAL and FREE testosterone and maintain a ratio of about 2% free testosterone.
7. Triglyceride / HDL Ratio
Optimal Range < 2
An elevated ratio of triglycerides-to-HDL is a biomarker effective at predicting risk of heart disease. Triglycerides are a type of fat – lipids – found in the blood. HDL is high-density lipoprotein – “the good cholesterol”. Measuring each is important, but measuring the ratio is also informative. A ratio up to 2.0 is acceptable as healthy, though as low as 1.0 is even better.
8. Lipid Panel
Total Cholesterol = 160 – 180 mg/dL
Triglycerides = 70 – 80 mg/dL
LDL = 80 – 100 mg/dL
HDL = 55 – 70 ng/dl
A lipid panel tests several measures all of which are biomarkers for predicting heart diseases early. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that sticks to the inside walls of blood vessels, constricting them and making blood flow harder, which in turn taxes the heart over time.
9. Creatine Kinase
Optimal Range: 25 – 175 u/l
CK (creatine kinase) is an enzyme in healthy muscle cells that supports the movement of energy at the outset of exercise and is a reliable predictor of ongoing strength and endurance. CK gets you off the couch. But strenuous exercise can cause CK to leak into the bloodstream causing muscle fatigue and cramping.
10 – 55 nmol/L (men)
20 – 140 nmol/L (nonpregnant women)
Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein produced by the liver that transports sex hormones throughout the body. SHBG is instrumental in converting total testosterone into free testosterone that is bioavailable for absorption. In addition to healthy sex life, SHBG is a biomarker predictive of strong bones and a healthy heart.
There is a lot to think about! We get it. If you have questions about biomarkers or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventative medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
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