Throughout my health journey I’ve had a lot of blood drawn in an attempt to find the root cause of my dis-ease or to find way to remedy my symptoms. One of the first things I realized is that an optimum healthy range for any substance in the body differs from person to person, but most importantly, differs depending on what doctor is ordering and analyzing the blood test results! Conventionally-trained doctors seem to have entirely different optimum reference ranges than naturopathic doctors! In this post I’m going to share what I’ve learned. I will expand it as I have time. *Conventional reference ranges were taken from the year of 2016 from Wisconsin-based medical practices.
Iron (specifically Serum Ferritin – the amount of ferritin in your blood)
Conventional reference range: 11-155 ng/mL
Optimum reference range: 40-60 ng/mL
Actual average levels:
- 80-90 ng/mL – typical plateau for postmenopausal women. Epidemiological studies have linked increased longevity with serum ferritin levels below a threshold of 80-90 ng/mL (29).
- 35 ng/mL – average level for women in reproductive years, 13-40
- 150 ng/mL – average level for men between 13-40
Additional Notes (taken from – Fat for Fuel by Dr. Mercola)
- “Ferritin levels can go really high. [Dr. Mercola has] seen levels over 1,000 ng/mL, but anything over 80 is likely going to be a problem.”
- “during their reproductive years, women shed 500 ml of iron each year through menstruation. (2) Indeed, the fact that women excrete iron each month for approximately 30 years is likely an important factor in why women have a longer life expectancy that men. Men don’t have a method of regularly shedding significant amounts of iron, so their levels are consistently higher than premenopausal women.”
- “Only about 1 mg [of iron] on average leaves the body through sweat, skin cell shedding, and very minor normal bleeding in the GI tract, while the average amount of iron absorbed from nutritional intake is 1-2 mg (3).”
- “Excess iron promotes growth of pathogens, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases including ALS, Parkinsons and Alzheimers.”
- “Symptoms of excess iron: joint pain, bronze or gray color to the skin, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, abdominal pain, heart flutters, memory fog.”
- “The safest, most effective and typically least expensive way to remove excess iron is simply to remove blood from your body since your red blood cells are loaded with hemoglobin that contain large stores of iron. One blood donation reduces ferritin by somewhere between 30 and 50 ng/mL (31). Here is Dr. Mercola’s recommended donation schedule
- < 60 ng/mL of ferritin, donation not necessary
- 100-125 ng/mL, donate 1-2 times yearly
- 126-200 ng/mL, donate 2-3 times yearly
- 201-250 ng/mL, donate 3-4 times yearly
- >250 ng/mL, donate every 2 months if possible.
- Dr. Mercola says the most convenient option is to find someone you know who can draw blood and come to your home to remove 2-4 ounces every month, which creates far less metabolic stress on your biology and closely resembles the iron loss that happens in a woman’s natural menstrual cycle.
- If you can’t donate blood due to age, low weight, or other reasons, you can get a prescription for therapeutic phlebotomy, which is a fancy word for treating a condition. Any center that accepts blood donations is required by federal law to accept your prescription for a therapeutic phlebotomy (blood is disposed of in this case).
- To reduce iron consumption, AVOID
- cooking in carbon steel or cast iron, and if you do decide to use iron pans, make sure they are well seasoned, as this oxidized then polymerized polyunsaturated oil acts as a protective layer between the iron and the food. Read more about cast iron in this post.
- processed foods ‘fortified’ with iron
- drinking high iron well water
- supplements with added iron
- taking vitamin C (or high vitamin C foods like red peppers or tomatoes) or alcohol like vodka with meals as these substances increase iron absorption
- over consuming animal protein (target should be 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass per day)
- To reduce iron consumption, DO
- cook in ceramic pots and pans
- filter iron out of your well water
- drink black tea, which inhibits iron absorption up to 95% (same cannot be said for green, white or herbal teas)
- drink red wine, which inhibits absorption of iron up to 65%
- go for periods without consuming food, as is recommended by Peak Fasting, which increases hepcidin, a hormone that reduces iron absorption
- exercise, as it changes the way your body absorbs iron by lowering overall uptake
Two forms of vitamin D can be measured in the blood:
- Calcidiol: 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) – major form found in the blood, relatively inactive precursor to the active hormone
- Calcitriol: 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (can be abbreviated 1α,25-(OH)2D3, 1,25(OH)2D, or 1, 25 (OH)2 D3) – active hormone
Optimum reference range:
If your Magnesium RBC is below 5, and 1, 25 (OH)2 D3 is below 22, then and ONLY then do you need Vitamin D!
- “Low 25(OH)D is just a ‘witness’ that you have too much 1,25(OH)2 D3…”
- the ratio of 1,25(OH)2 D3 (“Active”) to 25(OH)D (“Storage”) SHOULD BE 1.5, “maybe” 2 times greater; if you find you have FOUR TO FIVE TIMES (4-5X) more “Active” Hormone, compared to “Storage” Hormone, it could be setting the stage for severe mineral and metabolic imbalance.
The tests that get to the metabolic truth are as follows:
- Magnesium RBC (Red Blood Cell): it’s the KEY catalyst for creating “Storage” and “Active” forms of this Hormone…Should be 5.0-7.0 mg/dL.
- 25(OH)D blood test: it’s the measure of the “Storage” form, the precursor to “Active” form of this Hormone…Should be 30-89 ng/dl.
- 1,25(OH)2 D3 blood test: it’s the measure of the “Active” form of this Hormone…Should be 22-45 pg/dl.
- “Ionized” Serum Calcium blood test (NOT a standard serum test!): given that Calcitriol’s JOB in the body is to put MORE Calcium into the blood stream, it only makes sense to know exactly how much you have there already, right?
If your Magnesium RBC is below 5 and 1, 25 (OH)2 D3 is blow 22, then and ONLY then do you need Vitamin D!
How to Increase your Natural Vitamin D exposure/formation, taken from Wendy Meyers:
- Here’s a way to tell if the sun’s rays are strong enough to stimulate vitamin D formation. Go outside, stand in the sun, and look at your shadow. The more direct the sun’s rays are, the shorter your shadow will be. A good rule of thumb is that if your shadow is your height or longer, the sun’s rays strike at too great an angle to promote vitamin D formation.
- It is only when the UV index is greater than 3 that the needed UVB wavelengths are present in sufficient amounts. Check a site like Weather.com to find your current local UV index