When the advertisements ask, “Do you know your number?” they are referring to your cholesterol level. But did you know that there are other numbers that are equally important and could be life saving? Ironically, there are very few physicians who ever look for them or people who know to ask for them. For us as holistic physicians, they are part of our comprehensive work-up.
Most heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels, and many of these people have elevated HOMOCYSTEINE. Yes, I know you may have never heard this word before, but if your blood level is higher than 10, you are at an increased risk of not only heart attacks but many other diseases, including strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. In general, research has shown when homocysteine levels are over 10, the number of deaths from all causes increases 49 percent.
Although, genetics plays an important role, you can reduce your homocysteine level and its accompanying risks by supplementing with Vitamin B6, B12, and Folic acid. So what are you waiting for? Find out what your homocysteine level is so you can know how to treat it appropriately.
The second number is your vitamin D3 level. Despite the fact that most of our Vitamin D comes from the sun, out of hundreds of test levels drawn on our patients living here in the sunbelt, only a handful have been 45ng/dl or higher–the normal required level. Adequate Vitamin D can reduce our risks of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. Cancer of the breast, prostate and colon are especially related to low levels of Vitamin D.
The optimal levels of Vitamin D are ten times the recommended dietary allowance, i.e. 2000-4000 I.U., not 200 to 400 I.U. If you are dark skinned, you especially need more. You need to know your Vitamin D3 level so you can know if and how much supplementation is needed. Fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D can be toxic in excess (that’s why the recommended levels were kept so low), so it’s very helpful to “know your number” before treating.
The third number is the ratio of two of the breakdown products of estrogen: “the good” 2 alpha estrone and “the bad” 16 alpha hydroxyestrone. The ratio of the “good” to the “bad” should be 2:1 or your risk of breast, uterine, prostate and colon cancer will be increased. Note that men are also at risk because prostate cancer is also related to estrogen. Some simple dietary changes (not sweeping) can make a big difference, but it’s very helpful to know when they’re working. This test helps monitor your progress without guesswork.
The message of this article is to let you know that getting the routine complete blood count and multichemestry laboratory tests won’t tell you everything you need to know about your health risk factors. It is time to enter the 21st century state of the science of medicine: Know your numbers!
(1) Braley, James, M.D. and Holford, Patrick. The H Factor Solution. North Bergen, NJ: Basic Health Publications, 2003.
(2) Rasouli ML, Nasir K, Blumenthal RS, et al. Plasma homocysteine predicts progression of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis. 2005 Jul;181(1):159-65.
(3) Seshadri S, Beiser A, Selhub J, et al. Plasma homocysteine as a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. N Engl J Med. 2002 Feb 14;346(7):476-83.
(4) Vieth R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5):842-56.
(5) Lord R, Bongiovanni B, Braley J. Estrogen Metabolism and the Diet-Cancer Connection: Rationale for Assessing the Ratio of Urinary Hydroxylated Estrogen Metabolites. Altern Med Rev 2002; 7(2):112-129.