I had my annual physical today and ecstatic. Indulge me for a couple of moments. All medical and laboratory tests were good with a couple of blood tests just marginally outside normal ranges.
I wrote the bestselling book, The Joy of Ageless Health, last year. Getting older does not mean you have to suffer diminished health. Last year, Toby Keith was chatting with Clint Eastwood on the golf course at Pebble Beach, CA.
At 88 years of age, Clint Eastwood is still directing and starring in movies and is energetic as a 20-year-old. Toby asked Keith what kept him going every day. Clint replied, “I just get up every morning and go out. And I don’t let the old man in!” Toby to that statement and wrote his song, Don’t Let the Old Man In (https://bit.ly/333zmhC)
We make choices every day. If you are not getting an annual physical, make that a choice this year. Your health is a direct result of your choices. Yes, genetics can be a factor, but 5% at best. Epigenetics, the ability to turn genes on or off by lifestyle choices, can override many genetic issues.
CBC Blood Test
The basic CBC (complete blood count) blood test is used to detect anemia, infections, and other factors of health. (https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/complete-blood-count) Normally, I run slightly low on WBC (white blood cells). I have my entire life. I used to donate blood (plasma) twice weekly for years.
All my blood tests for each donation showed my WBC below normal. The blood doctors figured that my normal was slightly below everyone else. My WBC was at the lowest level of normal. All other blood values within limits.
Lipid Panel Blood Test
The lipid panel screens for abnormalities in blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides). (https://www.empoweryourhealth.org/magazine/vol12_issue2/understanding-the-results-of-your-lipid-panel) My total cholesterol was way below 200 mg/dL and my LDL was below 100 mg/dL and my HDL was above 40 mg/dL – all great numbers. My triglycerides were slightly high, but the doctor was not concerned – did not even mention it in his review of my blood work.
Prostate and Thyroid Blood Tests
My PSA was below 1.0 ng/ml – also good for a 74-year-old man. (https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/psa-fact-sheet) The thyroid profile was in the middle for both thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Absolutely no problems with my prostate or thyroid. (https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/healthy-living-with-hypothyroidism/understanding-test-results/)
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Blood Test
The comprehensive metabolic panel showed all within normal limits. This test checks fluid and electrolyte balance, kidney function, liver function, and blood glucose levels. (https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/comprehensive-metabolic-panel#1) Again, nothing for the doctor to note or talk about. Normally, that would conclude my blood work. However, I always add at least three extra blood tests – c-reactive protein, homocysteine level, and vitamin D3 level.
C-Reactive Protein Blood Test
C-reactive protein is created in the body by the liver in response to inflammation. (https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/c-reactive-protein-crp-test/) It might be due to injury or infection. However, chronic low-level cellular inflammation is the genesis of nearly every disease. If there is something growing in your body (tumor) or there is some function that is not working properly (autoimmune issue) it will generally show up as increased levels of c-reactive protein.
There standard CRP (c-reactive protein) blood test results are reported in milligrams per liter. Any measurement below 10 mg/L is considered normal. My reading was 0.2 mg/L. Again, excellent results – nothing to worry about. If the reading was above 10 mg/L, the test will not tell you where the inflammation is coming from – only that you have something that is not normal – other tests must be used to isolate the cause of the inflammation.
Homocysteine Blood Test
The homocysteine blood test is for the common amino acid, homocysteine. We get it from eating meat. Vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid break down homocysteine into components needed elsewhere in the body. (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=homocysteine)
The homocysteine test can indicate low levels of B vitamins or the development of heart disease. High levels of homocysteine are considered a risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. The normal range is below 15 micromoles per liter (mcmol/L). My test result was 11 mcmol/L – well within the normal range.
Vitamin D3 Blood Test
Low levels of vitamin D3 (below 30 ng/mL) increases the risk of bone disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and other diseases. The literature I research shows the older lower level for vitamin D3 at 20 ng/mL with deficiency defined as below 12 ng/mL. 30 ng/mL should be considered the low end for good health. (https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/8/the-overlooked-importance-of-vitamin-d-receptors)
Some doctors and researchers do not consider vitamin D3 tests of any value. I can understand when the literature is inconsistent. I use Life Extension (https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine) as my source for my research on longevity.
Most of the literature tells us that 50-80 ng/mL is optimal for normal health. If you are fighting cancer, psoriasis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, and more, then the range is adjusted upward to 80-100 ng/mL. How high is too high regarding vitamin D3? No one really knows. When it goes above 200 ng/mL, there is consensus that some degree of toxicity might be possible.
My wife and I increase our supplementation of vitamin D3 in the wintertime and cut back in the summertime. I normally run in the 80-90 ng/mL range most years – sometimes a bit lower, but never higher. This year we did not cut back on vitamin D3 supplementation with COVID-19 – more indoor time than outdoors.
I have written and published over 40 articles on COVID-19. My research shows that vitamin D3 acts to suppress the SARS-Co-V-2 virus from attaching to the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor in the lungs and other organs. I decided to keep our wintertime vitamin D3 supplementation dose through the summer for extra protection – every little bit helps, eh?
We walk a lot and have been active outdoors in our back yard this summer because of the coronavirus-induced vacation. My vitamin D3 test results were slightly over 100 ng/mL – most likely because of the additional supplementation throughout the year.
My doctor is one who is not ‘numbers’ oriented, especially if the number is over or under by a little. He asks other questions to determine if there might be some factors (symptoms) that I (or any patient) am unaware of that might lead him to suggest a specific course of action or not. Based on all my test results and my rationale for keeping our supplementation high, he gave me a virtual pat on the back and told us to see him again next year.
You can let the ‘old man’ in or keep him at bay. If you do not have a good baseline on your health now, an annual physical should provide it to you. Awareness is the first step of many to the Joy of Ageless Health. (https://amzn.to/3i4RRWU)
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com