I’m sure you’ve heard this from your doctor regarding your blood tests. And hopefully he or she is correct. What does “good” actually mean, though? What do most doctors look for on a blood test? If your doctor is like most, he/she is looking for pathology or disease on your blood tests. Fortunately, most of you don’t have a diagnosable disease or condition, so your lab results will likely fall into the lab’s ranges of normal, and your doctor might say, “Everything looks good!”
Here’s why I look at blood tests beyond the ranges of “normal.” The way labs decide on ranges of normal is generally by taking an average of all the samples they’ve received over the recent year(s). The reference range of normal is determined by using the range of values that 95% of the samples fall within. The 2.5% of values that fall both above and below the 95% limits are considered “abnormal” or out of the reference range. Therefore, if one of your measurements is out of range, it is considered to be within the “worst” 2.5% of the population! I think we all know that 95% of people are NOT optimally healthy, so it’s best to have your measurements fall as close to the center of the range as possible (in general).
Functional medicine practitioners like me are striving to have their patients optimally healthy. As a result, we use narrower ranges for most lab values to decide whether or not a person is truly healthy. Using a more narrow range often makes all the difference in finding out why a person isn’t feeling well, determining proper treatment, and even preventing a condition or disease from starting. Please keep in mind that when one or more values fall(s) out of the standard reference range, you may not have a diagnosable condition, although it’s probably worth looking into how that value relates to your health.
In conclusion, reference ranges on your blood test are used to determine if there’s a diagnosable condition or an imbalance that “95% of people” are without. Looking beyond the standard reference ranges and into the “functional” ranges is advisable for optimal health; sometimes when “everything looks good,” those “looks” can be deceiving.
To your best health and continued well-being,
Dr. Rob D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Diplomate and Board-certified teacher of the International College of Applied Kinesiology