It's important to take charge of your health, especially if medical test results all come back normal, but you still feel like something's wrong. Many people turn to functional medicine specialists these days, when they can't seem to get a diagnosis. These experts look for the root of the problem and try to help your body heal from that problem versus "patching it" with a prescription. That's Dr. Patrick Krupka's life's mission. He began his career as a Paramedic. Then, he went on to become a Chiropractor and Nutritionist. Now his specialty is functional medicine and looking at how the body operates from head to toe. He shares ideas from his book "Six Simple Blood Tests That Can Change Your Life and Why Your Doctor Won't Order Them", to help you figure out your problems.
"There are some misunderstandings about Vitamin D levels. First of all, you can have a Vitamin D in a true 'deficiency state', and that's recognizable by any doctor you go to. That's the first stage of Vitamin D problems. Then when Vitamin D levels come up, you get into almost a twilight zone where you're out of that deficiency state, but you're not reaping all of the benefits Vitamin D has to offer, once you're in that state where you're really getting all of those benefits. When you're in that (right) blood range, Vitamin D is a very strong anti-inflammatory. It helps a lot with pain syndromes, myofascial syndromes, things like that. Vitamin D modulates your immune system. It's very important for people who have autoimmune problems to have their Vitamin D in the right range and it's very strongly, what we call chemo-preventative or anti-cancer. Researchers have found 16 different cancers which Vitamin D is noticeably protective, and breast cancer is one of them. There are other preventatives for breast cancer, but Vitamin D is very simple to use. It's inexpensive, relatively safe, it's low hanging fruit for cancer prevention," says Dr. Krupka.
Dr. Krupka says talk to your doctor about the dosage. He prescribes 1,000 - 15,000 units per day to his patients (depending on their level), then 1/3 of that dose for children (different for babies).
"Hemoglobin A1C is a bio-marker for blood sugar. A lot of people get their fasting sugar drawn. Fasting blood sugar tells you what your blood sugar is like at that moment. It's literally a snapshot in time. If you get something like a Hemoglobin A1C, also called Glycosylated Hemoglobin, that gives you a 90 day, or three month average, of what your blood sugar has been doing. So many times you'll see a normal blood sugar, but you'll see an elevation in that Hemoglobin A1C and you know that over time, someone's blood sugar has been spiking occasionally and getting a little out of control. That way, you can spot pre-diabetic issues before they become diagnosable as Type 2 diabetes," explains Dr. Krupka.
"That's a marker for inflammation in the body, particularly in the vascular tract. When we look at high sensitivity, C-Reactive Protein, we get a little glimpse into - are you experiencing this low-level smoldering inflammation? Do you have inflammation in the vascular tract? Inflammation is really in the long run what kills us. You can talk about cholesterol and all of that, but inflammation is really what determines how pervasive those issues are and how detrimental do they really become. So watching someone's inflammatory markers is important! (You shouldn't take the test) if you have an infection, recently sprained your ankle, or hives all over you because your inflammation is going to be exceedingly high. However, if you're not having an over-inflammatory response, it means we've got to look at why this patient is inflamed. Think about inflammation as being on fire. I look at the lab report and realize this person in front of me is literally on fire. Why are they so inflamed, and then you go on to investigate other things. If you never saw that, you wouldn't know to go look for cause of inflammation," says Dr. Krupka.
Blood Test #4: Ferratin
"Many times, a Ferratin level gives you advanced notice of when your iron levels are getting low. For example, when someone gets anemic or becomes diagnosably anemic, they use iron to make their red blood cells and for several other processes in the body. You have a serum iron level, it's kind of like a checking account for your iron, but behind that checking account you have an investment account and that's called Ferratin. You will keep that checking account normal, almost at all costs, but you'll start dipping into that back-up account, that Ferratin account, to support it and keep it normal. Once Ferratin starts to go low, you know that you're using more Iron than you're taking in. Over a period of time, you'll become iron deficient and then anemic, so it's a very early marker of iron deficiency and Anemia," says Dr. Krupka.
"A full thyroid panel and thyroid panels are underdone in a lot of offices. That means a lot of information is missed in offices, so we go through what a full thyroid panel is and what's involved in doing that. Your doctor may do testing and say - it looks like it's working fine, but if you can't convert that T4 into T3, you still have all the symptoms of low thyroid hormone, even though the thyroid isn't having trouble. If your doctor says it's normal, where do you go from there? First, you have to find a doctor that can test the entire cascade of hormone production. It's a supply chain, just like any other supply chain. You have to go from start to finish. All the way from the pituitary, where you ask for pituitary thyroid, all the way down to the liver and intestines, where you make that final conversion from T4 to T3," explains Dr. Krupka.
"When we look at homocysteine, we have several cycles in our body where one nutrient comes in, and it gets acted upon by several others, and it spits out a product that we need. To make something called Glutathione, which is protective for the liver, blood vessels, and the brain, we use an amino acid that's acted upon by a certain cycle. Halfway through that cycle, we produce homocysteine. Homocysteine should be either recycled through the amino acid or is forwarded into glutathione. If you can't do either one of those, we know you're deficient in B12, B6, and Folic Acid. If you have those B vitamins in sufficient amounts, you can run the cycle one way or the other and don't build up homocysteine, but homocysteine raises your risks of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It also raises your risks of heart attack and stroke," explains Dr. Krupka.
For more information, you can go to: drkrupka.com
Dr. Krupka's book is only available in an online version. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Change-Life-doctor-ebook/dp/B008KO9L8U