If you’re like many women who are frustrated that your doctor won’t order the blood tests you want, you’re in luck. Did you know that in most states (with a few exceptions listed below), you can order your own lab work directly? And in many cases, this is cheaper than your insurance copay! Even if it’s not, just skipping the headache of having to justify which labs you want and then ensuring that your doctor orders the right ones can make the price worth it. Plus, it often saves time because your results are released straight to you.
There can be quite a bit of price variation through the different companies. And you need to make sure to choose one that has a lab draw location near you. Some companies use Quest, some use LabCorp, and some let you choose.
For example, Ulta Lab Tests uses Quest. Walk-In-Lab uses Quest or LabCorp. And Blood Lab Testing System (BLTS) uses LabCorp. From each of these websites, you can search to see if there is a location near you where you can go to have your blood drawn. Expect to pay between a $10-30 lab draw fee at the time of your blood draw.
I find that Walk-In-Lab tends to be more expensive, but their sales can sometimes bring the price down. BLTS often seems to be the cheapest, but if you don’t have a LabCorp site in your area, then this isn’t a good option for you. Additionally, if you live in Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, or New York, you are unable to self-order through LabCorp. But if you live in Massachusetts or Maryland, you can order through Quest. However, if you are in Rhode Island, New Jersey, or New York, it is sadly not legal to order your own blood work.
So what blood tests do I consider the most important?
Copper Serum, Zinc Serum or Plasma, and Ceruloplasmin
These tests complement the hair tissue mineral analysis nicely and give great insight into what is going on with copper and your hormones. It is possible to have too much of the wrong kind of copper, called unbound copper while also having too little of the good kind of copper, called bound copper. Walk-In-Lab offers these three combined for $75, or Ulta Lab Tests offers the three of these combined for $109. BLTS doesn’t offer a bundle, so the individual tests total $161.89.
Magnesium RBC is also very helpful. I see time and time again on hair tissue mineral analysis results that magnesium shows up very high. Oftentimes, these women are supplementing with magnesium. They think this is a sign that they’re possibly getting too much, but what happens when I recommend that they check out how much is in their red blood cells is that they discover that they’re actually deficient. This is exactly what my story was when I got my mag RBC and hair tested for the first time. But since working on mineral balancing, my mag RBC has been at or near optimal for 6 years now.
Magnesium belongs in the red blood cells. This is why serum magnesium is rather worthless. And if it’s low there, then you have much bigger problems because it is SURELY low inside your red blood cells. Magnesium can also show up high in the hair when a person is under stress or their body is under stress due to infections or environmental stressors. To seeing what’s going on on the INSIDE can be really helpful, or at least can help women wrap their head around their need for more magnesium…not through supplements.
This test is only $19.59 through BLTS but is $47+ through Walk-In-Lab and is right in between at $29 through Ulta Lab Tests.
Full Iron Panel
A full iron panel (ferritin, iron serum, TIBC, % saturation). So often doctors want to just order ferritin, but this does not give the full picture. BLTS offers this panel for $17.15, Ulta Lab Tests offers it for $38.
Ulta Lab Tests also offers a panel that includes everything above (copper, zinc, ceruloplasmin, mag RBC, and full iron panel) plus a CBC for $189.
BOTH forms of vitamin D…while your doctor probably has only ever ordered 25-hydroxy vitamin D, it is crucial to also know what your D,1,25 level is (also known as calcitriol). 25-hydroxy vitamin D is the storage form of vitamin D. Only testing this level is the equivalent of trying to figure out if you are anemic by just testing ferritin. There are several factors that can cause people to have a low level of storage vitamin D, but their active vitamin D (the D,1,25 form) might be just fine or even on the high side. I will go more into this in a separate post. But suffice it to say, I consider it irresponsible for any medical or healthcare professional to recommend vitamin D supplements without knowing both of these levels.
Full Thyroid Panel
I often have women tell me that their doctor will only order a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and if that comes back “fine” then they won’t do any additional testing. This is so frustrating because TSH isn’t even a thyroid marker. It is a pituitary marker! In order to get a complete picture of the thyroid, you need free T3, free T4, reverse T3, TPO antibodies, and thyroglobulin antibodies. This complete set of tests is available through BLTS for $84.69. This same panel is over $200 at Walk-In-Lab and is $125 at Ulta Lab Tests.
It has been really fun over the years to watch women’s thyroid panels improve simply by working on mineral balancing, especially bringing up low potassium. I rarely suggest products that specifically target the thyroid because I don’t view hypothyroidism as the problem…I view it as the result of other problems.
Of course there are lots of other labs you might also want or need to run depending on your unique health picture and needs. This is a good start and works especially well when paired with a hair tissue mineral analysis.
Denise Brusveen is a Certified Women's Herbal Educator and Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner and holds a Master of Science degree with a research emphasis in reproductive physiology. She is passionate about helping girls and women to become informed about holistic options to overcome health challenges related to their hormones.