Have you ever gone to your doctor because you were experiencing symptoms that were concerning or bothering you? Maybe you were fatigued or lacked energy? Or you were having diﬃculty losing weight? Maybe you were working out a lot but not getting any stronger or faster? Your doctor may have done lab work on you and you were told “Your labs are are normal.”
You may have wondered what does normal mean? You may have thought, “if they are normal, then why do I feel the way I do?” Perhaps you left frustrated and not knowing what you should do next since everything is normal.
Have you ever wondered how normal lab values or reference ranges are determine? It is a very complicated process beyond the scope of this article. In simpliﬁed terms, lab results are obtained from a “healthy” population. The mean (average) of those results are calculated and then the reference range is determined. It is usually plus or minus two standard deviations from the mean. Reference ranges also take into account sex, age, and other determinants.
Let’s not focus on the calculations but rather on how is “healthy” population deﬁned? Are these people with no medical problems? Are they all thin? Do they all eat healthy and exercise?
As our population becomes more obese (current rate is 41.9%) and have an ever increasing incidents of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. the deﬁnition of “healthy” population must become more lenient, or else there wouldn't be much of a population left to base reference ranges on.
Furthermore, factoring in age as a determinant for reference ranges can be problematic. These values will adversely decline or rise as we age, thus the older we are the lab reference ranges allow us to have deteriorating numbers and still be normal.
What if we chose to not accept this deterioration in lab values and the deterioration in health and vitality accompanied with them? What if we didn’t settle for normal values for a 60 or 70 year old, but instead desired to have normal values of a healthy, robust, ﬁt 35 year old?
Here is an example: According to Labcorp the normal reference range for Free Testosterone in females is 0.0-4.2 pg/dl. Zero testosterone is normal.
Are we asking the wrong question? Should treatment always be based on normal or abnormal? Or should we be seeking what are optimal lab values? What lab value should we strive for safely that will allow us to have the most vitality, energy, longevity and health span?
Normal is not always optimal. Let’s go for optimal!
Emma Dill - Dec 8, 2023
Cece Nunn - Dec 8, 2023
Staff Reports - Dec 8, 2023
Businesses involving pickle ball, teaching horses and improve are capitalizing on demand for corporate team building....
An economist said many seniors hold sizeable assets that are plowed back into the community for housing, food, health services and other use...
The Roth-only catch-up provision for higher earners was supposed to take effect in 2024, but lawmakers realized that many workplace retireme...