At 18yrs old, given my symptoms, what would be the optimal labs to take and what numbers should I look for?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 11, 2013 at 6:04 AM

To keep the background information short(er than most of my posts), I'm thinking about taking some labs to A) see how I'm doing, and improve my numbers, and B) Try and cure my symptoms. I have read/heard that over/under active thyroids can be a largely unrecognized cause of anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, and migraines. Some of those are things I suffer from. I'm also sure having optimal Vitamin D levels would increase all facets of health. What are the correct labs I should aim for taking? Should I just have my normal health care practitioner perform them, or should I seek out a more advanced lab? Can you also specify the numbers I should look for? Is there any Vitamin D tests/numbers to look for besides total Vitamin D

Now, if possible, after giving some numbers to shoot for, would you possibly be able to recommend some things to improve my numbers and I can get them tested again in 3-6 months? Is it fine if I 'mega-dose' on Vitamin D (at about 3-5k iu's a day) at about 6-8k iu's a day (may not be such a mega-dose)? What would be beneficial supplementation or dietary inclusions if I did end up having low/very high thyroid markers?

Until I get these tests, should I lower my consumption of spinach, broccoli, and kale? I know they're all "good" for you, but besides tomatoes, they're pretty much my only source of veggies. I've heard about goitrogens, but not necessarily sure on what they are, what sources contain them, and how they can affect me.

Thank you in advance for any and all information I receive.

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on January 11, 2013
at 05:29 PM

Don't worry too much about how to optimize your levels until you actually get some testing done and see if you should be altering anything. Don't put the cart before the horse, y'know?

As for limiting certain veggies, I wouldn't worry about that, either. Cruciferous vegetables (family includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc) contain goitrogens, which can suppress thyroid function, but goitrogenic activity is reduced by cooking. (Which is pretty good, because have you ever tried to eat raw Brussels sprouts? Ick. I'm not a fan at all of raw kale or broccoli, but I know plenty of people eat them in salads. Even then it's okay, just not a ton. You're not gonna tank your thyroid after a day or two of broccoli, know what I mean? Either way, stick with cooked.) Besides, if you're going to get testing done, you don't want to alter things (your diet, sleep, whatever) from your normal patterns. You want to see what's happening in your body now, and on how you currently operate with diet, sleep, stress, movement, etc.

With the symptoms you describe, I'd get the thyroid checked and the adrenals as well (a 24-hour salivary cortisol panel, most likely). Vitamin D for sure, as you already know. The important thing would be not so much where you get the testing done, but who helps you interpret the results. If you have a mainstream MD whom you trust (and where insurance might cover all of it), that's great. If not, find an ND or other qualified professional. Your insurance might not cover naturopathic medicine (I wish mine did, but alas...), but if it's in your budget, it might be worth every penny. Thyroid panels can be very complicated to interpret and the standard numbers can be quite misleading.

Also, if you say you experience things like fatigue, depression, and anxiety, think about some other potential causes besides hormonal imbalances: how's your digestion? In all seriousness, how's your poop? Diarrhea? Constipation? So many things could be at play, and yes, they can be a result of hormonal or nutritional imbalances, but not always.

And never forget that you can be your own best doctor. Once you have some testing done and sit down with someone who can help you interpret the results, you can do your own research and come to some pretty educated conclusions. *I am not telling you to bypass or ignore medical advice, of course. Just encouraging you to stay in the driver's seat. Nobody wants you to feel better more than you.



on January 12, 2013
at 05:09 AM

I know I've already written a response, but there's more I want to add:

As an 18-year-old guy, I'd be surprised if any of your hormone levels were very far out of whack. You haven't been around long enough to screw yourself up as badly as some of the rest of us! =) Of course, that depends on what your life has been like so far, particularly for the last couple of years.

People on Paleohacks--myself included, at times--tend to focus so much on diet and possible nutrient imbalances and deficiencies that we often overlook bigger picture factors, like sleep, stress, fresh air, sunlight, loving relationships, and fulfillment/contentment in career or home life.

The truth is, you could be eating the best diet possible, be completely full-up on all the vitamins and minerals, omega-3, the whole nine yards, but if you feel like your life is lacking in many other ways--and especially if you find yourself dwelling on your feelings of lack or unhappiness--your health and physique will suffer. Unfortunately, I speak from experience. While eating the same foods, there have been periods of my life where everything had fallen into place -- I liked my job, had an exciting romance, had a routine that was in sync with my natural circadian rhythm, etc -- and I looked and felt my best. In fact, during those times, I could "get away with" being a little more lax on my diet and still feel like a million bucks. (Not for me to say whether I looked it, hehheh.) But there have been other times when things were completely wrong for me -- the job, the schedule, the loneliness, the utter lack of professional engagement (and resulting feelings of worthlessness), and even being somewhere geographically that wasn't right for me -- and I just wasn't the same person. Supplements helped to a certain degree, but ultimately, the best diet can't fix an unsatisfying life.

I'm not saying this is the case for you, but it's something to think about. Give yourself credit for knowing about your own mind and body. If you dig deep, I'm sure you can probably make some educated guesses as to why you feel fatigued, depressed, or anxious. Maybe it is diet-related (and even if it's not, dietary changes can often work wonders...using vitamins and minerals at therapeutic doses, for example), but maybe it isn't.

In my case, it turns out I did have some pretty gnarly hormone imbalances. (Did a bunch of testing with an ND.) Lots of specific, targeted supplements helped get me back on an even keel, but what led to the imbalances initially was my body saying uncle after long-term very deep dissatisfaction with many aspects of my life. And now that I know what can happen when I let things get that bad for that long, I do my best not to go that way.

Just something for you to think about.


on January 11, 2013
at 09:53 PM

I am having similar issues as the OP.

I have had blood work done that show everything is healthy.

The thyroid level was normal according to my Dr. but I was feeling normal at the time of the test. How fast can thyroid levels change in the blood stream?

My cortisol levels were normal which I expected...

The depression and anxiety were serious for a little while but I seems to have them under control through positive thinking and the hope that I will heal.

However, each day is the same in terms of my body's rhythm.

Mornings I usually feel fine and rested but this only lasts for maybe 45 minutes to an hour then I feel really fatigued and unable to move, when I do move simply walking around the house I tend to stumble because my feet are dragging even though it feels Im taking regular steps.

Taking a walk around the neighborhood (about 1.5 with hills) gives me energy but I get winded. Mind you, I went from doing HIIT 3-5x a weeks with heavy weight workouts also.

Then I went from lots that to lots and lots of walking as I was in Europe for a study abroad program.

At one point I had severe pneumonia. and after that is when the symptoms set in. It seems to be getting better but it is 7 weeks after and Im still struggling with simply getting to the gym. I just have no energy.

Am I overtrained? Am I just recovering from pneumonia and being deconditioned? Should I force myself into my old regular pattern that made me feel alive or should I Rest until I am fully better? Do I need to contact my GP again and tell him that there hasnt been much improvement?


on January 11, 2013
at 02:46 PM

One program to consider is wellnessfx It's been pretty helpful for me in the past. Their first set of lab panels is pretty comprehensive, and they have someone you can talk to over the phone about the labs (doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, etc). Overall pretty convenient and painless.

They give you a printout that's pretty easy to follow, and something you can take with you wherever you go and use in the future.

Only issue might be cost. I paid for the labs out of pocket (first test is around $199). But keep an eye out for promotions.

The other issue is, if it turns out that there ARE serious problems with your lab results then you'd have to go see a doctor in person anyways to get those worked out.


on January 11, 2013
at 02:27 PM

I think most mainstream practitioners are up on Vitamin D. I would just follow your doctor's advice on that one.

I also think thyroid testing is pretty common these days. Just make sure you study the symptoms & hit all your talking points to justify the lab. Especially being male, I think it's a much rarer request.

Along the lines of Vitamin D levels, maybe get your b-12 checked, too. I'm pretty sure symptoms are mostly interchangeable.

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