Biohacking: My Experience with Life Extension Lab Tests
I’m certainly not perfect, but I like to keep healthy habits. I try to do the right thing with diet, exercise, supplements, chiropractic care, massage, and other self-care. But I’m a data-driven person. I want to see numbers and results, and not just leave things up to chance.
Have you ever asked your doctor to run a test on something, only to be told that your symptoms are not severe enough for them to test (or that your insurance won’t cover it)? When it comes to certain lab tests, I don’t like to wait until there’s something seriously wrong with me. I want to know where my levels fall, so I can be proactive about my health. This is particularly true when it comes to vitamins and minerals. I’m often tweaking my supplement routine or my diet, and I want to be sure I’m not getting too much or too little of critical micronutrients.
I’m so happy my mom (AKA my health guru) introduced me to Life Extension MANY years ago. I have taken many different high-quality supplements from this company over the years with great results. I am always impressed with their depth of knowledge on health topics (they have a print magazine with a lot of great info). And I’m also impressed by their extensive medical and scientific advisory boards that are full of MDs and PhDs. I was intrigued by their lab test offerings, but had never tried one until recently.
Life Extension offers a wide range of lab tests (blood, urine, cheek swab, etc.) for a wide range of health issues and health indicators. You can check things like hormones, thyroid, vitamins, minerals, cardiac function markers, cholesterol, insulin, and a bajillion other things. Some of these things you may be able to get via your regular doctor, and some you may not. These tests are paid for up-front, and not something you need health insurance or approval from your primary physician to get. If you’re ordering a blood test, you simply make an appointment at your local LabCorp location and they send the test results to Life Extension. When you get the results, you can go over them via phone with Life Extension’s Wellness Specialists.
I want to be very clear about something – these tests are not a substitute for professional medical care. They are meant to supplement your regular medical care. If you are having major symptoms, or are managing a disease, you should be working with a traditional or functional medicine doctor. If you’re having life-threatening symptoms, you should go straight to the ER. But, if you’re not dying, and you’re like me and into biohacking, you may want to get these tests directly from Life Extension.
So let’s talk about the Nutrient Panel blood test that I took recently. I went to a nearby LabCorp location and was in and out in 15 minutes – no joke! It was very easy. I got my results via email less than a week later.
If you’re interested in Life Extension tests for optimal health, you can get individual vitamin, mineral or antioxidant tests. Or, you can get a larger panel like this one that covers more ground. Overall, my nutrients are looking pretty good. Nothing is dangerously low, but there are some things I would like to change for optimal health. Here’s what I learned from my test, and from talking to a Life Extension wellness specialist. This is not just a sample – these are my actual test results.
- Vitamin B12 – Life Extension (LE) recommends keeping your B12 over 400 for optimal health, so I’m good with this one. I have started taking a VERY tiny dose of B complex so I know I’ll keep my levels up.
- Folate – LE likes to see a number over 3, so I’m good. I asked about a “too high range”, but LabCorp and Life Extension don’t seem to have one for folate. I have MTHFR, so it’s really good to know this number is solid.
- Vitamin D 25-hydroxy – Optimal Vitamin D have been hotly debated in the healthcare and functional medicine communities lately. Some people (including a dentist I saw recently for sleep apnea and teeth grinding) think Vitamin D levels should be much higher than standard ranges suggest. LE believes it should be in the 50-80 range. Mine is 41.3, which I think should be a bit higher. I personally don’t want to go higher than 60-70 or so, because there really can be too much of a good thing with Vitamin D. I have been trying to get at least 15 minutes of sun per day, eat more foods with Vit D (egg yolks, tuna, salmon, mushrooms, etc.) and I’m taking small doses of Vit D supplements (anything over 1,000 iu a few times a week seems to give me anxiety). It’s important to note, I always take Vit D with Vit K2 to prevent my arteries from calcifying. You also need sufficient magnesium when you’re taking Vit D. I believe it’s always best to avoid taking mega-doses of any vitamin because there are so many things that are inter-connected. Taking too much of one thing can lower something else, etc.
- Vitamin A – My Vitamin A is actually on the high side. I thought this was odd. It could be from skincare and beauty products with retinol and other Vitamin A derivatives or it could be from diet. I’m not currently taking any Vitamin A supplements, but I’m glad to have this information so I can be sure not to take a multi-vitamin with Vitamin A right now.
- Vitamin C – My Vitamin C is a bit low (0.8). LE likes to see a number over 1.2 for optimal health. I do take Vitamin C supplements from time to time, but I will start taking them daily, and will try to increase the Vitamin C content in my diet. LE recommends 2,000 mg per day for me.
- Selenium – My selenium levels look good. I do take selenium 1-3 times per week to keep my thyroid healthy. I’m happy to know I’m not over-doing it.
- Zinc – My zinc levels are healthy, and again, I’m very happy to know that the zinc I take for hormonal acne isn’t excessive. If you get too much zinc, it can lower your copper levels too much, and can lower your immune function among other things.
- CoQ10 – My CoQ10 level is not bad, but a bit low for optimal cardio health. LE believes it should be at least 3. I recently learned that I have a genetic propensity to not utilize CoQ10 well, so I need to research that more.
- RBC magnesium – My magnesium levels are pretty good, but LE would like to see them at a 6 or higher. They recommended I take 500 mg per day, but I’m SO sensitive to magnesium (too much causes anxiety, muscle pain, headaches and insomnia – the opposite of what magnesium does for most people), so I will have to try 200-300 mg for now and build up. I had been on a keto diet for a while (which didn’t work out for me), so I was worried that my magnesium levels would be too low. Overall, I’m pretty happy with where they fall.
So overall, I’m really happy with Life Extension lab tests. The nutrient panel I am writing about today was gifted to me by the company, but I have already bought another one for my husband, and I plan to buy more in the future. If you’re interested in getting a test, do it ASAP because right now they are having their annual 50% off sale!