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Empowering the Men in Your Life to Check Vital Health Markers (Plus a Great Gift for Dad)

It’s Men’s Health Month and almost Father’s Day, so my mind naturally falls on the men I care about in my life. Over the last several years, I have come to recognize some areas in the health industry where men are seemingly forgotten or, at least, not prioritized. I have seen it firsthand through the men I am personally connected to and through the anecdotal experiences described by my male clients. 

One recurring observation I’ve made as a holistic nutritionist is the disparity in blood lab requests between men and women. Despite the undeniable benefits, doctors often overlook certain critical tests for men that are commonly ordered for women. One theory I’ve developed on the root of this phenomenon is that women tend to be more proactive in deciphering their health status with their doctors. Since doctors are accustomed to women inquiring about various lab tests more regularly, I believe they are more likely to default to certain tests for women while not placing that same emphasis on men’s lab work. 

If you are a man (or have a man in your life), I encourage you to take a more active role in advocating for your health. I know this may seem overwhelming, but there are some easy-to-navigate entrances into a more front-seat position in your health—one is requesting certain blood tests. Here are some of the annual lab tests I recommend for men.

DHA & Pregnenolone

Hormones play a pivotal role in regulating many bodily functions, yet when it comes to men’s health, these critical markers are often neglected. Testosterone levels are more commonly checked for men, but other hormones like DHA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and pregnenolone, precursors to many other hormones, are rarely tested. These hormones are crucial for overall well-being, affecting everything from energy levels to cognitive function. DHA and pregnenolone are vital for hormone production and overall health. DHA serves as a precursor to sex hormones and adrenal hormones, while pregnenolone is involved in the synthesis of various steroid hormones. Evidence suggests that adequate levels of these hormones are linked to better stress management, cognitive function, and energy levels. Despite their importance, many doctors do not routinely test these levels in men. 

A1C 

Another crucial marker often overlooked in men is the Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) test, which measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It is a valuable lab test because it provides a long-term overview of blood sugar levels by measuring the percentage of hemoglobin coated with sugar in the blood. Unlike regular glucose tests that only reflect blood sugar levels at a single point, the HbA1c test captures an average over the past two to three months, making it an essential tool for monitoring overarching blood sugar control. Many men I’ve worked with over the years have had surprisingly high HbA1c levels, often indicating prediabetes or diabetes that had gone unnoticed. Monitoring and managing blood sugar levels is essential in preventing serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and nerve damage. Men can benefit from regular assessment of this marker just as much as women. 

CRP 

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for numerous health conditions, including heart disease and cancer – the top two causes of death for men in the United States. Unfortunately, CRP levels are not regularly checked in men despite their significance. Elevated CRP levels in many of my male clients have highlighted the need for more proactive testing and management of inflammation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, immune function, mood regulation, and more. Alarmingly, many men have significantly low levels of vitamin D, which can lead to a host of health problems. This marker is especially important for men since it can impact depression, and more than 6 million men suffer from depression per year – with countless cases going undiagnosed. Despite the clear benefits of maintaining optimal vitamin D levels, this test is often omitted from routine check-ups. Ensuring adequate vitamin D is vital, especially for those with limited sunlight exposure. Despite common assumptions, those living in sunnier regions must also stay on top of their vitamin D intake. Most of my male clients are deficient in the critical nutrient even though they live in sunny Los Angeles. 

Liver Enzymes

Liver enzymes, including ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), and Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) are indicators of liver health. High levels of these enzymes often point to liver stress or damage, which can be due to factors like poor diet, alcohol consumption, or metabolic issues. When requesting lab work for my clients, I find that it is more common for my male clients to have elevated liver enzyme levels that had yet to be previously identified or addressed than my female clients. This underscores the importance of regular liver enzyme monitoring for men in particular. 

Thyroid 

Thyroid health is another area where men are often underserved. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, energy levels, and overall vitality. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can significantly impact a man’s health. Yet, these conditions often go undiagnosed due to the lack of routine thyroid function tests for men, even though they are often requested for women. Including thyroid panels in regular check-ups can lead to better management of symptoms like fatigue, weight changes, and mood disorders. The endocrine system, which includes glands like the thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary, is crucial for regulating hormones and maintaining homeostasis. Unfortunately, men’s endocrine health is frequently overlooked in conventional healthcare. Comprehensive endocrine function testing can help identify imbalances that affect overall health and well-being.

Bloodwork Bundle & Gift Cards

Since bloodwork can be overwhelming, I am now offering a simple Bloodwork Bundle that will make for a perfect Father’s Day gift. The bundle allows me to provide direct support in ordering and reviewing specific lab tests and working one-on-one with you (or someone you love) to develop a nutrition-centered plan to improve health markers. The blood work package starts with a 30-minute Zoom consultation, then we run the lab work and conclude with a one-hour bloodwork review session. I will answer all of your bloodwork questions and explain the process during your first consultation. I am also now offering gift cards so you can give the dads in your life the gift of health as the best way to celebrate them this year.

I look forward to working with you (or your dad!).

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