A Genuinely Useful Blood Test

Health Tips / A Genuinely Useful Blood Test

Many a time, in person or via phone, someone will say a variation of “Look, I’m taking all these vitamins and minerals but I really don’t know what I’m doing. I think I’m eating right, but I might have some vitamin or mineral deficiencies I know nothing about and I don’t know the consequences.”

This is perfectly reasonable. Nutritional supplements aren’t inexpensive and you could be wasting your money taking something a GNC clerk recommended years ago that you don’t even need. Or you might have deficiencies due to health issues that affect key micronutrients. The consequences of these deficiencies and imbalances may go unnoticed, but your body may not be working at 100%.

The Vibrant Anti-Aging Panel (micronutrients + sex hormones) is a blood test that measures nutrient levels both inside your cells and in the liquid (serum) they float in. It also includes a full measurement of your sex hormones as well as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids.

On the (mildly) negative side, health insurance companies will not cover nutritional tests like this without subjecting you to significant financial risk. If your doctor ordered everything on the Vibrant panel to a lab like Quest or Northwestern, they’d perform and charge you for each individual test (well over $10,000).  If you have a high deductible (and who doesn’t these days), you’d be on the hook for everything up to your deductible, plus any test your insurer decided was unnecessary.

The good news is that the Vibrant Anti-Aging Profile, which includes a 37-page results report, is $425, paid directly to the lab.

If you’d like this test, WholeHealth Chicago patients can call and schedule a lab-only appointment, giving the name of your practitioner (the test can only be ordered by a health care professional) and the name of the test. With Clybourn Avenue virtually deserted, you can park right in front and be in and out of the office in a few minutes.

You don’t need to arrive in a fasted state, but you should stop taking your current supplements one week before your scheduled blood draw. Bring your credit card so you can pay Vibrant directly. Your results will appear in your patient portal in about ten days.

More about the profile
Although the resulting report is self-explanatory and a good read, if you feel a little overwhelmed by the 37 pages of information you can schedule a telemedicine visit with any of our Lifestyle Medicine practitioners (Wendy Ploegstra, Olivia Wagner, Rachel Gates, Parisa Samsami, Caley Scott, or me) and we’ll walk you through it.

WholeHealth Chicago patients who are do-it-yourselfers can read through the report and order supplements from our Apothecary to offset any deficiencies.

In addition to those of you who are curious about your nutritional status, there are other reasons to have this test. Consider that regardless your illness or condition, your body is programmed toward self-healing. Whether your immune system is trying to kill off a virus or the system that repairs broken bones runs out of vitamin D (which absorbs calcium), if you’re caught short you’re potentially in trouble. Chronic conditions all beg to be reversed and the damage repaired, whether it’s rebuilding the heart muscle or destroying cancer cells. Micronutrients are vital every step of the way.

Consider having this test if you have:

  • Any chronic condition (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic inflammation, chronic Lyme).
  • Skin problems. Low levels of D and the B vitamins impair healing; fatty acids are needed for good skin structure.
  • Numbness or tingling in your extremities. B vitamin deficiencies impair nerve health, while too much B6 can cause nerve symptoms.
  • A weakened immune system. Weakened immunity itself is frequently the result of vitamin deficiencies.
  • The sense that you’re experiencing accelerated aging, premature menopause or andropause, chronic stress, chronic fatigue, or depression. Each of these has placed demands on your body that you’ve not met. It’s like trying to grow a beautiful garden and supplying the water but ignoring the fertilizer.
  • A long history of prescription drug use, a poor diet, or obesity. Prescription drug use can be a real villain. PPIs, statins, diuretics, anticonvulsants, and others all cause measurable deficiencies in micronutrients.
  • The feeling that you’ve hit your max during exercise or athletics.
  • A restrictive diet (e.g., vegetarian or vegan).

There are many other factors that can affect your results, some within your control and others not. But knowing your deficiencies will help you work around:

  • Genetics.
  • Use of alcohol or tobacco.
  • Your dietary habits.
  • Previous surgery on your stomach, intestines, gallbladder, or pancreas.
  • The health of your microbiome, including intestinal parasites.
  • Your prescription drug regimen.

Because we believe in the potential of this Vibrant Anti-Aging Profile, we’ve made it easy for WholeHealth Chicago patients to get it, as described earlier.

If you’re not a WHC patient, register in our system as a patient (although there is no obligation to become one) and then call and make the lab-only appointment. You can supply the name of your primary care physician and we’ll send him/her a copy of your report if you’d like.

Oh, and to anticipate a question: Yes, if you have an HSA (health savings account) at work, you can use that for your Vibrant test.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD