At this time, the major leaders in the movement for disease prevention are definitely NOT the institutions but individuals like you and your family and friends. Supporting and growing this individualism and independence in personal health is our ongoing goal. Our job at the GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute is to help create the tools you need to answer your health questions. These answers come from scientific information based in part on your input to our projects and analysis of your results.
Take Charge of Your Health! But, how?
Today’s post is the first of a short series on the ‘how,’ which is what GrassrootsHealth has been providing and developing ever since we were established in 2007. Back then we saw that, while individuals wanted to do a vitamin D test to determine their vitamin D levels, they could not order them! We were able to introduce the home-test kits in 2009 and the independent style of measuring my own level has been growing ever since. This ability to measure your current status is the first step in taking charge of your health.
Step #1 – Measure
Regardless of where you want to keep your nutrient levels, it is important to measure to know where you are. We have seen with several nutrients that there is a wide range of variability in how a person responds to supplementation (or sun exposure in the case of vitamin D). What works for one person may not work well for another. The only way to know where you stand is to measure.
We now have several testing options to help our participants measure their nutrient levels. All test packages include vitamin D and you may choose to add any of the additional tests at any time:
Vitamin D – This hormone is essential for the proper functioning of several systems within our body, including how our cells read and express our DNA. The most accurate measurement of vitamin D status can be determined by measuring the amount of 25(OH)D in the blood. Anywhere between 40-75% of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient. Our panel of 48 International Scientists recommends a vitamin D level of 40-60 ng/ml. Are you within that recommended range?
Omega-3 Index – Omega-3s play an important role in cardiovascular, reproductive, cognitive, and emotional health, and are linked to improved mortality and healthier aging. The Omega-3 Index is a measure of the amount of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in red blood cell (RBC) membranes. The result is expressed as a percent of total RBC fatty acids, and is a long-term and stable marker of omega-3 status throughout the blood and tissues. The target recommended by experts is a minimum of 8%.
ADD the AA:EPA and Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratios to the Omega-3 Index for additional information about your balance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. The AA:EPA Ratio test measures the ratio of the amount of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the cells. This test can be an indication of the amount of cellular inflammation in the body, since AA is pro-inflammatory and EPA is anti-inflammatory. The Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio is calculated by dividing the sum of seven omega-6 fatty acids by the sum of four omega-3 fatty acids, and is another way to measure the balance of fats in the body.
Magnesium – One of the most important minerals in the body, magnesium is essential for energy production. Magnesium is also important for your brain and bone health, blood glucose control, DNA and genetic material, blood pressure, detoxification processes and for helping activate vitamin D in your body. It’s believed that about 80% of Americans don’t get enough, and as you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing magnesium. This whole blood magnesium test measurement includes the amount of magnesium in your blood cells as well as the plasma/serum, which is a better indicator of magnesium status than the serum magnesium test offered by most doctor’s offices and hospitals.
Elements Panel (Includes Magnesium) – It is important for essential elements to be within their normal or optimal range in order to fulfill their roles in maintaining health. When an essential element is out of range, it can lead to disease or sub-optimal functioning. Some essential elements, such as selenium, copper and zinc, can become toxic when they are too high. Toxic elements, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, have no known nutritional benefit and are known to interfere with proper functioning of proteins, lipids, and DNA within the cells. They can also interfere with essential elements by blocking their availability within the body. This panel measures your levels of essential elements magnesium, copper, selenium and zinc, as well as toxic elements lead, cadmium and mercury.
C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) – hsCRP is a marker of the amount of inflammation in the body. High levels are seen in acute inflammation and have been correlated with high cardiovascular disease risk, while smaller elevations are often indicative of chronic inflammation and chronic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – HbA1c is a measure of average blood sugar levels in the recent few months, and is a better representation of blood sugar health than a single glucose measurement, since glucose levels vary throughout the day. HbA1c is the compound formed in the blood when a hemoglobin molecule in a red blood cell binds with a glucose molecule in the blood; the resulting molecule is also known as glycated hemoglobin. It can be a good indicator of glucose intolerance even in the absence of abnormal fasting glucose levels.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – TSH is considered the most sensitive marker for thyroid screening, and is necessary for the stimulation of the thyroid gland and production of thyroid hormones. When the thyroid is taxed or under-active (such as in hypothyroidism), TSH levels increase in an effort to further stimulate thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones. Even a borderline-underactive thyroid is associated with certain health concerns, such as fatigue, unexplained weight gain, infertility, and mood swings.
Vitamin D, omega-3s, magnesium, and other nutrients are important to measure!
Make sure you know your vitamin D level, and take steps to keep it within a target of 40-60 ng/ml or 100-150 nmol/L! Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.
Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!
How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?
To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created an online tracking system called myData-myAnswers. For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details. This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!