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Blood testsUnlocking Longevity: 6 Key Blood Test Insights You Can't IgnoreBlood tests are valuable diagnostic tools healthcare professionals use to gather important information about your health. They offer insight into your well-being, from organ function to nutrient deficiencies. But why are blood tests so crucial? What do they really tell us about our health, and how can this information influence our longevity? Let's look at important insights that can answer these questions. Understanding blood tests and longevity Some important blood tests for assessing overall health and longevity include: Lipid panel (cholesterol levels)Fasting blood glucose (for diabetes risk)Complete blood count (checks for anemia and infection)Inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and interleukins.Vitamin D and B12 levelsHormones like thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) Regular monitoring of markers like these can help you establish a baseline and identify trends over time to determine what lifestyle factors are working for you. However, while blood tests offer valuable insights, they are just one part of a comprehensive health assessment, and other factors like genetics and lifestyle also play significant roles in predicting longevity. Key insights that individuals can gain from blood tests include: 1. Metabolic status Certain blood tests can assess risk factors, such as: Cholesterol levels: Understanding low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglyceride levels helps assess heart disease risk and informs lifestyle changes. Blood pressureBlood sugar: Monitoring glucose levels aids in managing diabetes risk and overall metabolic health. Regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help improve these markers, potentially enhancing your chances of a longer, healthier life. 2. Blood health Previously, researchers have found the complete blood count (CBC) risk score can predict the risk of developing life-threatening heart problems. Complete blood count (CBC) provides essential health insights, including red and white blood cell counts, hemoglobin levels, and platelet counts, helping diagnose anemia, infection, and blood disorders. This CBC study involved collaboration between Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute and Harvard's Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Lower CBC risk scores were associated with lower mortality risk, while higher scores indicated a greater risk of death. This tool can help doctors identify patients who need more attention and those who require less intensive care, improving patient outcomes. 3. Disease detection and life expectancy Are blood tests accurate for identifying disease and predicting longevity? Although blood tests can't definitively predict your lifespan, they do contain significant indicators that can offer insights into your overall health. If you optimize these markers, you can improve your healthspan, the number of years spent in generally good health without chronic disease. What are some examples of biomarkers? Common ones include: Vitamin D: Low vitamin D levels have been associated with various health issues.LDL cholesterol: High LDL can raise the risk of heart disease, a major contributor to mortality.Inflammatory markers, like elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, indicate inflammation linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Note: No single blood test can determine life expectancy accurately. Life expectancy is influenced by numerous factors like genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. 4. Endurance and recovery Specialized blood tests for athletes can help fine-tune physical performance and monitor their health. These tests may include markers like: Creatine kinase and myoglobin to assess muscle healthFerritin for iron levelsCortisol to gauge stressVitamin D and B levels to guide dietary adjustments Additionally, comprehensive panels can evaluate vitamins, hormones, and inflammatory markers. These tests provide valuable insights for personalized nutrition and training adjustments, helping athletes perform at their best while safeguarding their well-being. 5. Testosterone levels Testosterone blood tests can be relevant in various situations, such as: Assessing hormonal imbalancesMonitoring athletes for performance-enhancing drug useDiagnosing conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)Evaluating fertility issues It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and interpretation of testosterone levels in females, as they play a vital role in overall health and well-being. Does menstruation affect blood test results?Yes. Iron levels may drop temporarily during menstruation, affecting tests like CBC and iron panels. Hormonal fluctuations can also influence cholesterol and glucose levels. To ensure accurate results, it's advisable to schedule non-urgent blood tests a few days after your period ends. Always inform your healthcare provider about your menstrual cycle when interpreting test results for a more accurate assessment. 6. Biological age Blood tests to determine biological age involve analyzing biomarkers associated with aging and disease. While some biological age scores rely on genetics, using blood biomarkers allows you to track how beneficial health changes work to reduce your biological age. With InsideTracker's biological age calculation InnerAge 2.0, you can quantify how certain biomarkers impact your body’s internal age and get recommendations to improve them. » Unlock the benefits of blood testing to estimate biological age Longevity and insight: A blood test away Blood tests and monitoring can offer a wealth of insight into your overall well-being and reveal trends in your health. InsideTracker works to help you take control of your health by providing biomarker analyses, a customized Action Plan, science-backed recommendations, and customer-exclusive healthspan resources. Taking your health into your own hands is easier than ever. InsideTracker doesn't diagnose medical conditions. For any health concerns, visit a qualified healthcare professional.
Health optimizationDoes Metformin Work as an Anti-Aging Drug?Metformin is often the first line of therapy for managing type 2 diabetes. However, recent research has shown the benefits of metformin may extend beyond diabetes; longevity scientists believe metformin may have anti-aging properties. Here’s where the research currently stands on metformin for anti-aging and longevity and why longevity scientists are interested in the possibility of metformin as an anti-aging drug. Key points on metformin as an anti-aging drugMetformin is often the first line of treatment for the management of type 2 diabetes, but emerging research shows it may improve some signs of aging. Research is ongoing to understand how exactly metformin influences aging to extend lifespan and improve healthspan. Intermittent fasting, engaging in strength-based exercise, managing stress, and maintaining good blood glucose levels may help reverse aging and encourage longevity. For medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The information presented is informed by peer-reviewed scientific research and is not intended to serve or substitute for medical advice. What is metformin? Metformin (brand name Glucophage) is an oral medication that reduces liver glucose production (hepatic gluconeogenesis) and intestinal glucose absorption. It promotes insulin secretion and signaling so more blood glucose is taken up by skeletal muscle. [1, 2] These mechanisms make it a go-to treatment for type 2 diabetes. While blood sugar levels and metabolic health play a vital role in healthy aging, metformin’s effect on aging appears to impact numerous body systems and potentially offer a range of benefits beyond blood sugar control to people with and without type 2 diabetes. » Read more about anti-aging supplements, vitamins, and pills Does metformin slow aging and improve longevity? Studies thus far hint that metformin may slow aging processes and promote longevity. This is where the research currently stands on metformin's link to measures of aging. Metformin and cognition Type 2 diabetes is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s theorized that metformin may improve cognition. Researchers of a pilot study of individuals with mild cognitive impairment—who didn’t have diabetes—found that eight weeks of metformin use was associated with better executive functioning. Even more, the results indicated enhanced learning, memory, and attention.  Another study noticed a 51% reduced risk of cognitive impairment with metformin use, with the lowest risk observed in participants who took metformin for more than six years.  Metformin and cardiovascular events In a study of people with heart failure and type 2 diabetes, those who took metformin had a lower incidence of cardiac events, fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease, and reduced all-cause mortality. However, there was no effect of metformin on cardiac events in patients without diabetes.  Metformin and incidence of cancer Pooled analysis of large studies In one meta-analysis, cancer diagnosis was reduced by 31% and deaths from cancer by 34% in people with diabetes taking metformin.  Metformin and all-cause mortality One large systematic review found that people with diabetes taking metformin had lower all-cause mortality than people without diabetes. Diabetic metformin users had lower all-cause mortality than people with diabetes taking other non-metformin medications. Together, these results suggest that metformin may protect against aging.  What are the potential anti-aging benefits of metformin? Metformin influences multiple physiological processes related to aging. But how exactly metformin affects aging is not yet clear. Researchers are investigating whether metformin slows aging by acting on multiple pathways or one pathway with many downstream effects.  Researchers think some ways metformin potentially slows aging include the following: Regulating metabolism and insulin sensitivity: Metformin activates the enzyme AMP-kinase, an energy sensor and regulator of glucose, fat, and protein metabolism. AMP-kinase alters liver glucose production to restore energy balance, improve insulin signaling and sensitivity, and encourage greater uptake of glucose in skeletal muscle. The root of many age-related disorders is inflammation, which is associated with glucose dysregulation and insulin resistance. [1, 2] Protecting against protein damage: Many age-related neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) are associated with the build-up of damaged proteins. In mouse models, metformin appears to prevent protein damage.  Mediating inflammation: Metformin’s effect on inflammation is two-fold: it reduces pro-inflammatory and increases anti-inflammatory molecules. Moreover, metformin indirectly influences inflammation through its impact on body composition and insulin. [1, 2] Reducing oxidative damage: Chronic high blood sugar levels contribute to oxidative stress, which damages cells. Metformin may provide an antioxidative effect, but the exact mechanism has yet to be determined.  Slowing cellular senescence: Cellular senescence (when cells stop dividing and functioning correctly) contributes to the onset of age-related diseases. In cell studies, metformin delays cellular senescence, reducing the impact of senescent (“dead”) cells on aging.  Promoting positive stress: Some stress is actually beneficial for the body. Metformin may promote hormesis, the adaptive response of the cell to stress. Adapting to stress can benefit health, and hormesis is vital to normal physiological functioning. Hormesis can also occur in response to exercise or dietary restrictions. [9, 10]Encouraging cellular autophagy and apoptosis: Metformin may stimulate autophagy (the removal of damaged proteins and cells), potentially slowing aging.  » Learn more about science behind supplements to slow aging Dr. Nir Barzaili on genetics and lifestyle factors of centenarians Through ongoing research, longevity scientists hope to understand how best to target aging to extend lifespan and improve healthspan. In particular, the ongoing TAME study by Dr. Nir Barzaili is evaluating the effect of metformin on aging in individuals without diabetes. Can people without type 2 diabetes use metformin? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved metformin for off-label use, so technically people without type 2 diabetes can use this drug. However, a prescription from a physician is required to obtain metformin. While the anti-aging effects of metformin are promising, it is still unclear whether people without type 2 diabetes will benefit from this medication and whether the potential benefits outweigh the possible side effects. As mentioned earlier, researchers have discovered a lower risk of all-cause mortality in diabetes patients on metformin compared to those without diabetes. Similarly, a matched study between people with and without diabetes found increased survival rates in those with diabetes using metformin. And people on metformin had longer survival than those taking other diabetes medications. [7, 11] Metformin does seem to positively affect processes related to aging. However, additional research is needed to determine if metformin can specifically target aging to increase lifespan and health span and whether and to what extent those benefits extend to all individuals or just those with type 2 diabetes.  What are the side effects of metformin? Generally, the side effects of metformin are isolated to gastrointestinal distress and are relatively mild. Side effects include:  Diarrhea, constipation, and stomach painBloating, gas, and indigestionHeadacheUnpleasant metallic mouth tasteHeartburnSkin flushing Metformin also increases the risk of lactic acidosis (the accumulation of lactic acid), which can cause severe consequences if untreated. Long-term use of metformin may result in vitamin B12 deficiency, so it’s important to monitor B12 levels while taking metformin.  Dr. David Sinclair on learnings since Lifespan Some longevity scientists like David Sinclair already take metformin to slow aging. As an expert in longevity, Dr. David Sinclair—a researcher at Harvard University and board member of InsideTracker—takes metformin to extend his lifespan. Dr. Sinclair takes metformin in the evening as insulin sensitivity decreases throughout the day. And Dr. Sinclair alternates days of taking metformin and exercising.  Studies have shown that concurrent use of metformin and regular physical activity may affect physiological responses to exercise. In particular, when taken together, metformin may reduce some benefits of exercise, such as improved insulin sensitivity and muscle growth.  What is InsideTracker’s stance on metformin for longevity? As metformin is a prescription drug, it is up to you and your healthcare provider to decide whether you should consider metformin. InsideTracker will continue to monitor the research on metformin for longevity and can provide reliable educational information on the topic. What other steps can you take to reverse aging and encourage longevity? Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting (IF) may increase cellular resilience, so cells adapt to stress, activating processes that may result in longevity. IF may slow aging and protect against aging-related diseases. Strength-based exercise: Resistance training is associated with a 21% reduced risk of all-cause mortality. The benefits of strength-based exercise are extensive—regular physical activity results in changes to body composition and glucose metabolism, which influences the risk of aging-related diseases. Manage stress: High stress levels negatively affect health, so managing stress can benefit longevity. Maintaining a joyful and optimistic outlook positively influences stress and can help extend lifespan. Maintain good blood glucose levels: Persistently elevated blood sugar levels can contribute to whole-body inflammation. Research in diabetes patients showed that greater variations in blood sugar levels are associated with increased vascular issues and mortality. Regular exercise and opting for whole grains, foods with low glycemic indices, and healthy fats can help regulate blood glucose levels.  References:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33562458/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347426/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28538088/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24577463/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6668189/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24985407/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28802803/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943638/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248601/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34365027/  https://dom-pubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dom.12354  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8374068/  https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a696005.html  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31405774/  David A. Sinclair. (2019); Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To; Atria Books  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5411330/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31104484/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28789793/  https://cardiab.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12933-020-01085-6
Health optimizationHow to Take Iron Supplements to Maximize AbsorptionIron is an incredibly important mineral for health. Not only is it a crucial component for many biochemical reactions in our bodies, but it is also required for proper oxygen transport. When our iron levels drop, it can leave us feeling sluggish and depleted. Fortunately, iron supplements can help restore our vitality. But, to harness the full benefits of these supplements, it's crucial to understand how to take iron supplements and when to take them. Knowing your iron biomarker levels is especially important for athletes, active premenopausal females, those fighting fatigue, frequent blood donors, and anyone generally interested in their health. So, let's break down the best ways to supplement iron to achieve maximum absorption. » Learn more about how inflammation affects your iron levels Why are athletes at risk for under-optimized iron?While iron is an essential nutrient for everyone, active individuals have higher needs as there is a higher rate of red blood cell (the oxygen transporter) destruction associated with activity. Additionally, many athletes are overly health conscious and may steer away from high-iron foods, like beef, for health reasons, which can lead to inadequate intake. » Find out how monitoring iron status can save your season What you need to know about iron absorption Like with most biomarkers, the law of diminishing returns applies to your iron markers, too. Simply put, those who have the most room to improve will improve the most. As iron levels increase, it becomes more difficult to get smaller improvements. In general, iron absorption falls from about 20% to 10% as ferritin increases from 15 to 60 mg/dL.  Keep at it! Improving ferritin is like filling a swimming pool with a garden hose (unless it is falsely high from inflammation, of course). Choosing high-quality sources of iron and being strategic with supplementation is important. Did you know that iron intake is especially important for women?In our healthy, active population, low ferritin levels are fairly common, especially among premenopausal females. Of our users, 50% of females under the age of 50 have suboptimal ferritin levels.Whereas men typically store around 600-1,000 mg of iron at a time, women only store 200-300 mg.  Blood loss from menstruation depletes women's iron stores more quickly, and heavy bleeding during periods is associated with an increased risk for iron deficiency.  So it's especially important for women to focus on optimizing iron intake to maintain their body's iron stores and to replenish lost iron from monthly cycles. Strategies to optimize iron intake Iron supplements or iron-rich meals are best absorbed when they are not taken before or after exercise. In theory, recovering from a hard run with a steak dinner makes sense since the body certainly needs to replenish some iron stores; however, since inflammation peaks post-workout, it is unlikely that we are going to absorb a fair amount of that iron, thus, wasting a steak dinner! Enjoy your lean cuts of beef on easier workout days. Other good sources of iron include shellfish, beans, dark chocolate (check the labels), fortified cereals, and dark leafy greens (best absorbed when eaten with a squeeze of citrus). How to take iron supplements Take your supplement before bed: This is likely to be the easiest time to have an empty stomach. Cutting off your food intake two hours before bed will also have other benefits.Have a large breakfast or lunch: Cut out your usual snack by eating more in one sitting. Small salads for lunch may sound like a good idea, but if they result in you reaching for a less-than-stellar snack three hours later, you didn’t eat enough. Go for more calories at meal times to stave off hunger for four hours.If you need food, plan to eat a piece of fruit with your supplement: Citrus and bell peppers are winners for their high vitamin C content, which helps improve absorption, and they are also relatively low in fiber. Berries are also a good source of vitamin C, but their fiber content can decrease iron absorption. When is the best time to take iron supplements?The ideal time for taking an iron supplement is one hour before a meal or two hours after to ensure an empty stomach. Your personal health analytics dashboard Evaluate your health, view your recommendations, and track your progress—all in one place. InsideTracker's Ultimate plan measures markers related to iron, giving you a deep dive into your iron status that can help you optimize your levels, increase your energy and focus, improve your athletic performance, and strengthen your immune system. Up to 48 biomarkersBlood test includedAbility to add InnerAge It is possible to take too much iron! Finally, and something that's seen quite often, is taking too much iron at one time. Clinically high levels of serum iron, while you are supplementing can mean that you are taking too much iron at once, and your system can’t do much with it. If you have high serum iron and a low ferritin level, consider breaking up your supplement into smaller doses throughout the day. A mega dose of 65mg, which should only be taken if prescribed by your physician, is unlikely to be well absorbed. Try starting at 14mg once per day and increasing to 14mg twice per day if your biomarkers are not improving (ferrous sulfate is our recommended form of iron supplement). It's also important to alert your physician to your iron levels and supplementation in case your low ferritin levels indicate something more serious. References:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28381473/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4345694/  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829
ReviewInsideTracker Review: Is This Optimized Health Plan Worth It?InsideTracker is a personalized health and wellness platform that aims to help people optimize their health through biomarkers to live healthier, longer lives. It does this by analyzing your biomarkers and real-time physiological data (through fitness trackers), genetics, behaviors, and goals to provide personalized recommendations on nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress, and supplementation. It's interesting that on their first test with InsideTracker, 90% of customers discovered that they have five or more suboptimal biomarkers. InsideTracker registered dietitian, Michelle Darian, gives a detailed review to help you determine if this product is right for you. The verdict InsideTracker is a health platform that provides science-backed recommendations using detailed blood biomarker testing, DNA insights, and wearable device integration. The platform aims to bridge the gap between healthspan and lifespan, showcasing its commitment to proactive health management. Given this, the product is really worth buying. InsideTracker at a glance CategoriesInsideTrackerMain featuresComprehensive health insights through blood biomarker testing, DNA analysis, and wearable device integrationUser experienceUser-friendly interface with personalized optimal zones, healthspan categories, and detailed health profilesPriceUltimate plan - $699 per testInsurance coverageMostly out-of-pocket payment required, but some FSA/HSA reimbursable plans may cover blood tests from InsideTrackerPrivacyProtects your info with HIPAA and SOC-2 InsideTracker overview Let's walk through the customer journey if you decide to try InsideTracker for yourself. 1. Choose a plan Depending on your needs and budget, you'll select one of InsideTracker's blood testing plans. The most comprehensive is the Ultimate plan, which tests for up to 48 biomarkers. You also have the option to upload recent, existing blood test results from your doctor instead of ordering a new blood test through InsideTracker. 2. Add ons You can customize your plan by adding on a DNA test kit and/or InnerAge test. InnerAge is InsideTracker's biological age calculation that compares your biomarker levels to peers of the same chronological age. 3. Get blood drawn You'll get your blood drawn either at a Quest Diagnostics lab or by a mobile phlebotomist who can come to your home or office, whichever you prefer. 4. Fill out health profile Fill out a comprehensive health profile on InsideTracker. It asks for information on your current diet, exercise routine, lifestyle habits, and supplement use. 5. Review results and recommendations Your biomarker results will be available in 5-7 days. Your InsideTracker dashboard will display science-backed recommendations that are tailored to your genetics, health snapshot, and goals based on your results. 6. Take action This is the part where you can put InsideTracker's personalized recommendations into action to optimize your biomarker levels. These recommendations may include: Dietary adjustmentsNew exercisesSleep adviceStress management tipsHigh-quality supplements 7. Retest InsideTracker suggests retesting your biomarkers every 3-6 months to monitor the impact of your new habits and make any necessary adjustments. You can track your progress over time in your InsideTracker dashboard. Main features Let's take a closer look at the key features that differentiate InsideTracker in the field of health and wellness. Blood biomarker testing InsideTracker's blood test option examines important aspects of healthspan such as: Heart healthHormone balance SleepInflammationMetabolismRecoveryCognitionEnduranceFitnessGut health Your outcomes are matched with customized optimal ranges, not only disease risk thresholds. This emphasizes which areas require the most attention. Did you know?InsideTracker doesn't just show you the biomarker results; it provides personalized optimal zones for each biomarker based on your demographics and goals. DNA testing InsideTracker also offers DNA testing for up to 39 different genetic markers related to fitness, nutrition, and longevity. Your genetics influence many aspects of your health and can provide helpful context for your plan. For example, you may discover you have a genetic predisposition for elevated cholesterol. This insight can motivate you to be proactive with lifestyle changes to try to reduce your cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, and other natural methods before considering medication. "DNA isn't your destiny. It's kind of like your roadmap toward showing you how to live a healthier and longer life, and can also influence what you choose to implement into your day-to-day life," explains Darian. Wearable integration InsideTracker integrates with wearable devices like Apple Health, Oura Ring, Garmin, and Fitbit to collect real-time health data. This can track lifestyle factors like sleep, activity, and heart rate. Combining this real-time data with biomarker testing provides a comprehensive picture of your overall health and helps confirm that your lifestyle changes positively impact your biomarkers. User experience Inside Tracker's intuitive interface simplifies health insights, offering personalized recommendations based on a user's comprehensive health profile and real-time data from wearable devices. The platform emphasizes optimal zones for each biomarker, making results actionable and easy to understand. Note: The customer support team is helpful and approachable. Users can first check the AI-powered FAQ for quick answers; if needed, they can easily chat with a representative through text-based messaging. Pricing InsideTracker offers a variety of plans tailored to diverse health and wellness needs. We have put together a list of several options: DNA Kit: For $249, customers get an easy at-home DNA swab, with an analysis of up to 261 gene variants. The DNA test is included in this package.Ultimate: At $699 per test, this plan analyzes up to 48 biomarkers and includes the blood test. Customers also have the option to add InnerAge to this plan.Ultimate Plan + DNA Kit + InnerAge 2.0 calculation: For $1047, this comprehensive package provides the clearest insights into your health. It includes analysis of up to 48 biomarkers, including blood and DNA tests.2 Ultimates + 2 InnerAge 2.0: Priced at $1388, this package offers two Ultimate Plan blood draws and two complimentary InnerAge 2.0 calculations. The blood test is part of the package. Note: For anyone seeking flexible payment options, InsideTracker is integrated with Affirm, allowing the convenience of buying now and paying later in installments. InsideTracker: A smart investment in your health InsideTracker goes far beyond standard lab testing to provide science-backed, personalized recommendations to optimize your biomarker levels. Periodic blood testing lets you quantify your progress and fine-tune your plan. Although there is a monetary cost, InsideTracker's extensive testing and customization make it reasonably priced. Your health is invaluable, and InsideTracker arms you with the tools to optimize it and make impactful lifestyle changes.
Health optimizationIron, Ferritin & Restless Leg Syndrome: What's the Connection?Daneisha Govender is a medical researcher with expertise in molecular and cell biology and biochemistry. Her research led to a publication on vitamin D and gene methylation. As an Epistolary Pedagogies Writing Fellow, she honed scientific writing and communication skills. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder up to 10% of the U.S. population may have.  It's characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. But what's the connection between RLS and iron deficiency or low ferritin levels? Overview of RLS and iron connection What's your body lacking when you have restless legs? There's a potential link between iron deficiency or low ferritin levels and restless legs. Low iron levels can even affect brain oxygenation, which may exacerbate RLS symptoms.  Iron is crucial for your body since it plays a role in dopamine synthesis, which controls muscle function. Iron deficiency can heighten brain and spinal cord neuron excitability, leading to RLS symptoms. This includes the urge to move the legs to relieve discomfort. Anemia is often the result of iron deficiency and frequently leads to reduced oxygen delivery to tissues. Ferritin level thresholds Ferritin is a protein in your body that helps store iron. There's a connection between ferritin levels and RLS, but there aren't universally established thresholds to prevent RLS. However, individuals with levels below 50 ng/mL might be at a higher risk of developing RLS.  To mitigate this risk, maintain healthy iron levels through a balanced diet. Additionally, consult with a healthcare provider for a personalized assessment. Other potential deficiencies RLS might also indicate deficiencies in other essential nutrients, such as: Iron: A mineral that plays a vital role in blood oxygen transport. Folate: An important vitamin for red blood cell production. Magnesium: Necessary mineral for proper muscle and nerve function. What's the difference between iron and ferritin?Your body needs to have a certain amount of iron in circulation to carry oxygen to cells. Ferritin is the protein that binds to iron for storage. Iron is released from storage when the body requires more to function properly. Treatment and management Managing RLS can be challenging, but understanding the role of iron and ferritin can provide some clarity on effective treatment strategies. Iron supplementation Addressing underlying iron deficiency through iron supplementation or increasing ferritin levels can be an effective treatment for RLS. Iron deficiency and restless legsTreating iron deficiency is important in RLS. Restoring iron levels improves dopamine and reduces abnormal sensations for some individuals. Recommended iron intake Optimizing your iron intake is important for managing RLS, as iron plays a role in producing myelin, a protective sheath that covers nerves. For managing RLS, consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice so you know exactly how much iron to take for restless leg syndrome. Self-prescribing can be harmful, so always seek guidance from your physician. Expert tips for alleviating RLS If you have RLS, adopting certain self-care strategies and making lifestyle adjustments can provide both immediate relief and long-term management of symptoms. While there's currently no treatment to stop RLS immediately, there are lifestyle adjustments and interventions that can help relieve its symptoms. Here are some lifestyle adjustments: Establish a regular sleep scheduleGet regular exerciseAvoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in the eveningTake a warm bath or shower before bed The interplay of iron, ferritin, and RLS RLS isn't just a standalone ailment. It's intertwined with our body's iron levels and overall health. From immediate lifestyle strategies like leg massages and warm baths to long-term lifestyle adjustments such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, managing RLS is a holistic endeavor. A platform like InsideTracker offers comprehensive biomarker analyses, tailored action plans, and a wealth of resources to help you understand your health state and how to improve it. However, it's not meant to diagnose or treat medical conditions. For any medically related concerns, consult a qualified healthcare professional. References:  https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/restless-legs-syndrome  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23494945/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18697508/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17604457/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34218864/
Health optimizationHow to Increase Ferritin LevelsFerritin levels are important for everyone. Whether you’re male or female, an avid exerciser, or a couch potato if your ferritin levels are too low, you may feel fatigued and run down. Fatigue can often be linked to inadequate iron in the blood. And since ferritin is a marker of long-term iron intake, it's perfect for determining whether that worn-down feeling can be linked to your diet. Here's how analyzing the ferritin levels in your blood can help increase your energy levels. What is ferritin and why is it important? Ferritin is a type of protein that binds to iron. In fact, most of the iron that is stored in the body is bound to ferritin, which makes it a good marker for how much iron you have. Iron is an essential mineral that is a part of the protein hemoglobin, which is found in all the body’s red blood cells. Hemoglobin works to supply the muscles and other organs with enough oxygen, as well as to help the body convert carbohydrates and fat into energy. Maintaining optimal levels of iron is important for athletes and non-athletes alike because iron plays the following important roles in the body: Produces red blood cells and hemoglobinSynthesizes proteinMaintains the health of hair and skinFights infection and preserves the body’s immune systemHelps to create energy Why do low ferritin levels make you tired? If you’re deficient in iron, you probably have lower red blood cell and hemoglobin levels. As a result, your blood can carry less oxygen to your muscles and brain, negatively impacting performance and overall well-being. Since red blood cells play a critical role in transporting oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs throughout your body, a lack of oxygen can make you feel lethargic and weak. Low iron levels in the blood can decrease your body’s ability to use energy efficiently during exercise or normal physical activities. Symptoms of iron deficiency can include frequent injury, a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, irritability, and a high exercise heart rate. If you’re an athlete who wants to keep your body energized throughout an athletic event, you need to maintain your iron levels so that you don’t become fatigued too quickly. Even if you’re not an athlete, people with ferritin deficiency may feel tired and weak, which can result in decreased levels of concentration. How much iron do I need?Your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron depends on age and gender.  But those values don't consider your acute or long-term iron status—two people of the same age and gender with different blood levels of ferritin, for example, should consume very different amounts of iron each day. InsideTracker will use your current blood levels to calculate the amount of iron you need based on age, gender, ethnicity, and athletic activity. How to increase iron stores in your blood There are two types of dietary iron: heme and non-heme.  It's crucial to understand these two types to know exactly how to increase ferritin levels with food. 1. Increasing heme iron Meat, especially red meat, is the best source of heme iron. When we eat meat, we consume the blood proteins and the hemoglobin that are contained in the body of the animal. Heme iron is typically absorbed at a higher rate than non-heme iron, which means that the body more easily absorbs iron from animal products than iron derived from plant foods. If you’re a vegetarian, keep in mind that the absorption rate of heme iron from animal-based sources ranges from 15-35 percent, compared to 2-20 percent absorption of non-heme iron. Therefore, vegetarians may need to consume twice as much dietary iron as meat-eaters to absorb an adequate amount of iron each day. 2. Raising non-heme iron levels Non-heme iron comes primarily from plants. Non-heme iron actually comprises the majority of the iron that we consume in our diets. There are many good sources of non-heme iron. Dark leafy greens and dried beans are among the best vegetarian sources of iron. Many breakfast cereals and bread products are fortified with iron, so make sure you’re eating plenty of those, especially whole-grain foods! Rice, wheat, oats, nuts, fruits, vegetables, beans, and fortified processed foods are typical sources of non-heme iron. In addition, several types of foods can reduce the amount of non-heme iron that the body absorbs. For example, the tannins in coffee and tea, dairy products, fiber, eggs, and some types of chocolate can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron. The good news is that vitamin C helps to markedly increase the absorption of non-heme iron.  For instance, drinking a glass of orange juice with your dinner can increase non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold! You can also consider taking an iron supplement, but if you do, take it with a food or beverage high in vitamin C, such as orange juice, to increase absorption. InsideTracker accounts for your dietary needs and preferences and will recommend foods to optimize your iron levels. Why are some people more prone to iron deficiency? Three groups of people face an increased risk of iron deficiency: athletes, women below the age of 50, and vegetarians. Athletes: Your body loses iron during heavy training periods through sweating, running, and gastrointestinal bleeding that can sometimes follow intense workouts. So, it’s very important to watch your iron intake to avoid plateauing during an athletic event. Athletes with low levels of iron should raise their blood iron level, which consequently increases the amount of oxygen their lungs can absorb (known as their VO2 max) and their anaerobic capacity.Pre-menopausal women: Women are at an increased risk for depleted iron levels because of the hemoglobin that is lost in the blood during menstruation. In particular, female athletes are three times more likely to be anemic than non-athletic women. Vegetarians/vegans: People who exclude meat from their diets are also at risk of iron deficiency because the iron in plant-based foods (non-heme iron) is harder for the body to absorb than the iron in animal products (heme iron).  Athletes tend to deplete iron faster than non-athletes, which can explain why nearly 20% of all recreational athletes are anemic—having low ferritin and low hemoglobin—and a third are iron deficient—having low ferritin. From fatigue to fortitude It’s important to remember that the amount of iron supplement that is needed varies depending on your blood analysis results, age, gender, ethnicity, and athletic activity. Regardless of whether or not you eat meat or take a supplement, it’s vital to know your ferritin status to maintain energy throughout the day. InsideTracker blood analysis can tell you if you need to increase your dietary iron consumption. Learn more about our plans and pricing here. References:  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967179/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2507689/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4596414/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367879/
Inflammatory biomarkersUsing DHEAS as a Biomarker of Aging in WomenDHEAS is a biomarker that is particularly important in women’s health and physiology. DHEAS is an abundant molecule in the body that decreases naturally as women age. While it garners limited attention in health-related media, becoming informed about your own DHEAS levels using InsideTracker may help you optimize your muscle and bone health, sexual function, fitness performance, and longevity. Here's what you need to know about DHEAS and why you should measure this marker. What is DHEAS? Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, or DHEAS, is the form of the molecule dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that is naturally modified in the body so it can be stored in the blood. DHEA is synthesized from cholesterol and stored as DHEAS until it is needed to make different steroid sex hormones, including estradiol and testosterone, as well as other sex steroid precursor molecules. These hormones are crucial in maintaining energy, muscle and bone health, and sexual function in both men and women. Estrogen, testosterone, and other important sex hormones are produced by the gonads—the testes in men and the ovaries in women. In men, the testes continue to release testosterone and the other sex steroids at rates that decline slowly but steadily as they age. In contrast, when women reach menopause, the ovaries completely cease to produce sex hormones such as estrogen. The hormonal fluctuations of menopause thus lead to a variety of physiological changes, and at this time, DHEAS becomes the only source of the essential sex hormones in women. Why is DHEAS important? DHEAS is produced by the adrenal cortex of the kidney, a set of glands that produce a class of hormones called corticosteroids. Other examples of these corticosteroids include cortisol, which is involved in immunity and response to stress, and mineralocorticoids, which are involved in regulating blood pressure. Of the molecules produced by the adrenal cortex, DHEAS is found in the highest concentration in blood serum. However, scientists do not yet completely understand how it works or if it has functions aside from being a precursor for sex steroids. What scientists do know is that in both women and men, DHEAS levels increase from early childhood until they peak again during age 20-30. After this, DHEAS levels steadily decline with age. » Are you on birth control? Read more about how it can affect your biomarkers Low levels of DHEAS Lower levels of DHEAS are associated with a higher risk of conditions such as diminished immunity, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and unstable blood sugar levels. Measuring levels of DHEAS is also used as a clinical indicator of different conditions related to pituitary and adrenal function. Low levels of DHEAS in the blood are linked to decreased pituitary and adrenal function, which can cause many health problems for women, including weakness and fatigue, difficulty in controlling weight, menstrual irregularity, and infertility. High levels of DHEAS High DHEAS levels are associated with overactive adrenal glands, polycystic ovary syndrome, and early puberty. These conditions can also lead to difficulty in controlling weight, menstrual irregularity, and infertility. Additional symptoms in women with overactive pituitary and adrenal glands include acne and excess hair growth all over the body (hirsutism). [1, 2, 3, 4] Because DHEAS levels change with both chronological age and with disorders that have serious implications for women’s health, keeping track of your DHEAS levels is a great tool to optimize your overall health in relation to your age. » Discover the key blood biomarkers associated with female fertility How to increase DHEAS levels in females naturally You can measure your DHEAS levels with InsideTracker which assesses DHEAS along with other biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein, that are important indicators of longevity and physiological health. Research has shown that regular moderate cardiovascular activity, such as briskly jogging for 30 minutes and performing resistance exercises such as squats, can increase DHEAS levels over time for women of all ages and activity levels. Making simple changes to your diet based on your current habits—like eating more healthy animal protein if you do not frequently eat meat or eating less processed meat if your diet is already rich in meat sources—can boost your DHEAS levels. [5,6]Stress is another important determinant in optimizing DHEAS levels. Exposure to new stressors in the workplace can decrease DHEAS levels in as little as 3 weeks in otherwise healthy women and long-term chronic stress has also been associated with lower levels of DHEAS. [7, 8] While it is impossible to avoid stress altogether, identifying stress-management techniques and incorporating them into your daily life can help alleviate the effects of stress on DHEAS in your body. If your DHEAS levels are not optimized, InsideTracker provides diet, exercise, and lifestyle interventions to help you optimize its levels and maximize your fitness and wellness. Why measure DHEAS instead of DHEA? The “S” in DHEAS stands for the sulfate group (one sulfur and four oxygen atoms) that is added to DHEA. Without this sulfate group, DHEA is not very soluble in the blood because it is a lipid, meaning that it does not mix or dissolve in the blood (similar to the way water and oil do not mix with each other). The sulfate group facilitates the storage and transport of DHEAS in the blood. This is why there is approximately 1000 times more DHEAS than there is DHEA in the blood, which makes it easier to measure DHEAS levels. However, DHEA is actually the form that is eventually converted into testosterone, estradiol, and other important molecules. When DHEA is needed, specific enzymes remove the sulfate from DHEAS, converting it back into its active state. Because DHEA and DHEAS are freely interconverted, measuring DHEAS levels is a reliable indicator of the amount of active DHEA in the body that is available to make other hormones. Furthermore, research has shown that DHEAS levels in the blood are more stable throughout the day than DHEAS levels. This yields more consistent measurements in a person over time, so changes in DHEAS levels represent changes in health rather than typical daily fluctuations. » Learn more about sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and its importance for women What are DHEA supplements and should you take them? DHEA supplements are readily available, particularly in the United States. Unfortunately, the quality of these supplements is not well standardized, meaning that the ingredients listed in the supplement may differ from their actual contents. Many studies have investigated the effects of increasing DHEAS levels by taking DHEA supplements from external sources (in other words, from sources that are outside of your body’s natural means of producing more DHEAS). Still, when taken together, the data that is currently available does not show that DHEA supplements are an effective way to improve your health and wellbeing. Plus, most of these studies take place for less than a year—too short in duration to investigate the long-term impacts of these supplements. Current research findings indicate that DHEAS is not toxic, but there is not enough data about the effects of DHEA supplements on health after long-term use to know if DHEA supplementation causes more harm than good in the long run. For now, it is safer to stick to natural methods of boosting your body’s DHEAS levels through modifications to diet and exercise that will increase DHEAS and improve your overall health and performance. Know your DHEAS! DHEAS is an essential precursor of important sex steroid hormones, particularly for women, that naturally decline with age. Having DHEAS levels outside of the optimal range for your age is associated with a variety of chronic conditions that can be prevented by making simple changes to your exercise routine and diet. DHEAS is not typically included during standard blood draws. To ensure you can monitor this biomarker, InsideTracker offers DHEAS analysis for women as part of the Ultimate and InnerAge 2.0 plans. References:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22431997/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20163485/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23704104/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23620415/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20211044/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185297/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22047956/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24015247/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15755854/
Blood testsWhy Women Should Care About TestosteroneFor women, the role of testosterone in the body is not always clear. Here is some basic information that every woman should know about this mighty hormone, and why it's not just for the boys. What is testosterone? Testosterone is a steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called androgens. It is produced mostly in the testes of men and the ovaries of women, although small amounts are produced in the adrenal glands as well. Testosterone is best known for its anabolic effects, like building muscle and tissues, helping with protein synthesis, and increasing bone density. Testosterone also has androgenic effects that we often associate with male secondary sex characteristics, i.e. deepening of the voice, development of facial and body hair, and changes in facial bone contours. Why is testosterone important for women? For both men and women, testosterone plays a key role in the development and maintenance of muscle mass, strength, energy levels, and bone density. For women in particular, the maintenance of bone density and muscle mass is important, as both of these tend to deteriorate with age. Testosterone may also offer females some more subtle effects, like impacting mood and (here’s the big one) sexual desire. That’s right, the big “T” is linked to the big “O” for women as well as men. » Read more about the science behind testosterone biomarkers What are the signs of low testosterone for women? Women with low testosterone (low T) may experience decreased libido and persistent fatigue.  For athletes in particular, muscle weakness is another frequent complaint. Because testosterone is a hormone, symptoms of deficiency resemble symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.  In fact, certain experts argue that misdiagnosis and lack of treatment are common for these reasons. What are the signs of high testosterone in women? Between 4% and 7% of women produce too much testosterone in their ovaries.  Some of these women have a pattern of symptoms called polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.  This diagnosis is important for women, as PCOS can lead to infertility and other problems. Another possible effect of high T in women is excessive hair growth in unwanted areas, known as hirsutism. (Yes, there’s a scientific name for those pesky chin hairs you have to pluck.) Other signs include acne, excessive perspiration, frontal balding, and deepening of the voice. » Discover key blood biomarkers associated with female fertility What to do if your testosterone is too high If your testosterone is high, you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor will likely check your testosterone levels and refer you to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormone levels and glandular functions. Certain factors, like smoking, obesity, and PCOS, are also associated with high testosterone How to increase testosterone in females naturally Here's how to boost your testosterone levels naturally and improve your overall health. Exercise less (if you’re exercising too much) For both men and women, overtraining—the type often seen in endurance sports like distance running—can actually decrease your testosterone. Take time to rest if you need it! Exercise more (if you’re not exercising) While endurance training may be associated with decreased testosterone levels, research indicates that acute endurance training and resistance training can actually increase your circulating androgens—including testosterone.  Does working out increase testosterone in females?Research shows that acute endurance training and resistance training can actually increase your circulating androgens—including testosterone.  But be sure not to overtrain as this can decrease testosterone in both men and women. Move some weight Take a break from the treadmill and hit the weights instead. In addition to increasing androgen levels, resistance training comes with a ton of other amazing benefits for women, including stronger bones (reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis) and weight loss. It's recommended that women resistance train two to three times a week.  Have more sex There is a correlation between testosterone levels and sexual activity in women. While it is believed that individuals with higher testosterone levels tend to have higher libidos, some research indicates that it is the sex itself that may be increasing women’s testosterone. Several studies showed that sexual arousal leads to small increases in plasma testosterone levels in women.  Eat more zinc Zinc is a powerful little mineral, which blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. More zinc = less converted estrogen = higher testosterone. Good sources of zinc include oysters (hence their reputed aphrodisiac abilities) and other seafood, pumpkin seeds, red meat (especially beef and lamb), and spinach. Eat more magnesium Magnesium is also believed to increase your testosterone by inhibiting testosterone from binding to its binding protein, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As a result, you have more free testosterone (the biologically active type of T) floating around in your blood. Great sources of magnesium include fish, beans, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. Optimize your health with InsideTracker The role of testosterone in female physiology continues to be studied by scientists and researchers. However, it is believed that taking steps to naturally increase testosterone levels in females can have a positive impact on overall health and well-being. And, the best and easiest way to get insight into the levels of this biomarker is with a little help from InsideTracker! InsideTracker’s Ultimate Plan lets you test a wide range of blood biomarkers plus important ratios, including free and total testosterone, SHBG, and cortisol, and gives you individualized recommendations based on your age, gender, ethnicity, activity levels, and goals. References:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12107541/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11955793/  https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/153/3/256/80402?login=false  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941370/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21142281/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5955292/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10367606/
Blood testsBlood Testing for Athletes: Improving Performance and Outsmarting the CompetitionBlood analysis provides a unique window into an athlete’s health and performance. Certain biomarkers like vitamin D and ferritin can directly impact athletic performance, while others like cortisol and creatine kinase can provide insights into overtraining and injury prevention. Athletes can now rely on blood testing to pinpoint focus areas and implement effective changes to improve performance. Here's how athletes, including Olympians, CrossFitters, ultramarathoners, and others, use InsideTracker blood testing to optimize their health and performance. Sarah Hammer used blood testing in preparation for the Olympics In preparation for the Olympics, US Olympic track cyclist Sarah Hammer spent hours training and building her endurance. But to reach the next level in her performance, she needed to look where she hadn't before—inside her own body. An InsideTracker blood analysis revealed that she was very low in vitamin D. Blood test for endurance athletes Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies across the globe, including among athletes. A 2016 study found that 32% of professional basketball players were deficient in vitamin D, while 47% had low levels of the nutrient.  Vitamin D plays many essential roles in the body, especially regarding athletic performance. For starters, the vitamin increases muscle mass and strength, improves bone health (along with calcium), increases the size and number of the muscle fibers used for short bursts of speed and power, and improves lower body strength. [2, 3] Furthermore, adequate Vitamin D can reduce inflammation in the body, specifically the inflammatory marker CRP. A meta-analysis from the journal Nutrients found that vitamin D supplementation can lower serum CRP levels by 20%.  What’s more, according to a randomized control trial, low vitamin D levels can also lead to decreased testosterone, especially in men.  Testosterone is an anabolic hormone produced in both men and women that helps increase bone strength and stimulates muscle mass and strength. Through blood testing with InsideTracker, Olympian Sara Hammer and her coach were provided blood-based insights about her vitamin D status and provided her with a set of evidence-based interventions to effectively increase it. Sarah went on to win two Olympic silver medals in track cycling. Crystal Seaver uses routine blood tests to overcome fatigue Ultramarathoner Crystal Seaver crushes 50 and 100-mile races in her spare time. But after a 100-mile race, Seager struggled to bounce back both physically and mentally. Instead of guessing, she analyzed her bloodwork with InsideTracker to learn more about her body before beginning another training cycle. Testing with InsideTracker showed Crystal that she needed to address her iron and ferritin levels. Once you see it on paper, it becomes real. It also means you know what kind of changes to make to get back to feeling like yourself again. For me, that meant changes to diet, more rest and less exercise, and letting my body fully recover. - Crystal Seaver Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies across the globe, especially in women. Athletes, in particular, face a greater risk of low or deficient iron status, as iron is lost during heavy training periods through sweating, running, and gastrointestinal bleeding that can sometimes follow intense workouts. How does low iron affect athletic performance? Iron is part of the protein hemoglobin—a component in all red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs are responsible for transporting oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. Iron deficiency, therefore, tends to lead to lower levels of both red blood cells and hemoglobin.  As a result, blood carries less oxygen to muscles and the brain, which can negatively impact performance. [ 8] Symptoms of iron deficiency can also include: Frequent injuryWeakened immune systemChronic fatigueIrritabilityHigh exercise heart rate Ferritin, a protein that stores iron, is the best indicator of iron in the body, yet physicians do not routinely check this marker. Athletes, especially female athletes, should track ferritin status to avoid fatigue and plateauing during athletic events. InsideTracker provides ferritin, serum iron, hemoglobin, and RBC tests, as well as specific recommendations on how to improve them. Kris Brown and Raphael "Rufio" Durand use blood testing to prevent overtraining Kris Brown, endurance athlete, and ultramarathoner, uses InsideTracker to prevent overtraining. After testing with InsideTracker, the athlete discovered he had early signs of overtraining syndrome, including elevated cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It responds to both physical and emotional stress and plays a crucial role in many essential physiological functions. Overtraining may lead to physical stress and high cortisol levels. If athletes experience a constantly high cortisol state, they face a greater risk of chronic fatigue, high blood glucose levels, and weight gain. In response to his blood test results, Kris implemented the science-driven recommendations provided by InsideTracker, including taking Ashwagandha root daily and whey protein at night. My test results from InsideTracker had the direct effect of improving my performance by helping me identify and address the specific needs of my body. Still, they also gave me the confidence boost of knowing that, aside from those minor, fixable issues, I was ready to train hard for the biggest race of my life. - Kris Brown CrossFitter Raphael "Rufio" Durand also uses blood testing to gauge his intensity and determine when to take a break and recover efficiently. Rufio found that when certain biomarkers, such as cortisol and creatine kinase, are elevated, he cannot recover properly. Creatine kinase (CK) is an enzyme that rises when muscle damage occurs. Test results of this biomarker allow athletes to see how their bodies react to training load and intensity. CK peaks about two to four days after intense exercise and returns to normal levels (< 200 units) over the course of a few days, depending on the intensity of the exercise. Blood test for marathon runners This study showed that the CK levels of marathon runners are elevated after endurance training and competition and took about 7-14 days post-marathon to return to baseline.  There is also a correlation between CK level and injury. A chronically elevated CK will most likely result in muscle pain, weakness, injury, and more—not ideal for top athletic performance. InsideTracker considers age, gender, ethnicity, and type of athletic activity (swimmers should have a lower level of CK than soccer players, for example), and determines your personalized range of CK. If you are too high, InsideTracker will provide several personalized options for reducing your levels, including dietary changes, exercises, and supplements. For me, there’s nothing harder than being told to rest, but InsideTracker helps me understand why it’s valuable. - Raphael "Rufio" Durand Why should athletes use InsideTracker for blood testing? All sports have had to grapple with athletes seeking unfair advantages at some point in their histories. But blood testing for athletes is a largely untapped medium for achieving that edge in a fair and clean way. “Athletes are willing to inject their bodies with drugs to get an advantage, so why not withdraw information to improve performance naturally?” says the founder of InsideTracker, Gil Blander. Blander emphasizes that to optimize your body’s physical capabilities, it’s necessary to have scientific evidence about your unique blood biochemistry. The InsideTracker team spent years analyzing thousands of research papers to find the most critical biomarkers to improve physical performance and identify the nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, and exercise interventions to optimize them. Roughly 3,000 potential biomarkers were narrowed down to more than a dozen of the most essential for injury prevention and athletic performance. What makes InsideTracker unique is its integration of an “optimal zone” in the blood analysis. This number is specific to each person and considers his or her unique demographic information, including age, gender, ethnicity, and activity level, as well as lifestyle and performance goals. InsideTracker’s sophisticated algorithm determines the optimal zones for each marker based on the latest peer-reviewed research. For example, the normal generic range for a woman’s ferritin level is between 12-150 ng/dL. But InsideTracker recommends that an active woman in her 20s should have blood levels of ferritin between 40-150 ng/dL for optimum performance. If you're not in this zone, the algorithm recommends effective and simple interventions involving diet, supplements, and training modifications that are specific to your needs. The InsideTracker team created the algorithm to produce the most accurate recommendations for its users based on cutting-edge scientific research extracted from peer-reviewed scientific literature. Optimize your physical performance with InsideTracker From amateur athletes to professionals like Sara Hammer and Rufio Durand, InsideTracker has helped thousands of athletes improve their performance. Combining the latest scientific research with information about your body’s unique biochemistry, InsideTracker can make you a more informed, fit, and better athlete. References:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27482529/  https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-015-0093-8  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3289217  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073144/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712348/  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23210492  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355034  https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2010/09000/iron_and_athletic_performance.11.aspx  ]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7445533/