To fully optimize your health, you need the full picture of where your body stands. Most diagnostic tests offer only a small snapshot — and the image may be blurry.
“Many diagnostic companies test a very narrow subset of areas such as hormones, fertility, or nutrition alone,” says Kerri Masutto, MD, a board certified functional medicine expert and former Lifeforce VP of Clinical Operations. In fact, most tests measure only three to six biological markers (aka biomarkers). Lifeforce captures more than six times that.
The Lifeforce Diagnostic at-home blood test measures more than 40 biomarkers, or molecules found in the blood and tissues that are used to objectively measure how well the body is functioning. We test across five key areas — hormone balance, metabolic condition, key cardiovascular risk factors, critical nutrients, and organ health.
Over 40 biomarkers may sound extra, but mark our words: each biomarker is essential to get a clear, comprehensive picture of your holistic health. So, what are all these data points — and more importantly, what do they mean for how you look and feel?
We’re breaking down all the Lifeforce biomarkers in this handy cheat sheet.
Normal Vs. Optimal
Before we dive in, it’s important to underscore the distinction between normal and optimal levels. You’ll notice that we list optimal levels for each biomarker below. That’s because we’re here to help you feel your best, not just stave off sickness.
“Most blood tests are checked against ‘normal’ levels based on the average of the people who go to that lab,” Dr. Masutto explains. “These ranges are typically focused on highlighting serious health conditions, not on helping people understand how their levels compare to what’s optimal for performance.”
The 40+ Biomarkers You Need to Know
Hormones are your body’s messengers, carrying signals through the blood to organs, skin, muscles, and other tissues telling them what to do. These messages impact everything from your libido to your energy levels, mood, sleep, body composition, and more.
What it is: Testosterone is the primary androgen found in men and women., which is a group of male sex hormones. Men typically produce significantly more androgens than women, but they are also present — and vital — in women. Total testosterone is one of the two forms of testosterone. Just as it sounds, total testosterone means the total amount of testosterone in your body, which includes forms that are bound and those that are unbound and free for use.
Why it matters: In both sexes, testosterone is key for libido, mood, cognition, and lean muscle mass. “It’s essential to optimize testosterone because it’s considered your ‘will to live’ hormone,” says Lifeforce Physician Leah Johansen, MD. “When levels are low, you’ll lack motivation, feel physically and mentally depleted, and have a low libido. When you get your levels up, all that bounces back.”
In men: 700 - 1,200 ng/dL
In women: 50 - 80 ng/dL
What it is: Meet the other form of testosterone. “Free testosterone is the portion of testosterone that is not bound to proteins, and is therefore available to act on cells and tissues throughout the body,” explains Lifeforce Physician Alex Antoniou, MD.
Why it matters: You need to optimize both total and free testosterone to get back into your groove. Even if your total testosterone levels are within normal range, your free T may be low, which can still lead to symptoms like low energy, low sex drive, and decreased lean muscle mass.
In men: 150 - 190 pg/mL
In women: 6.7 - 9 pg/mL
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
What it is: After being produced in the liver, the SHBG protein binds to sex hormones — including testosterone and estrogen — and regulates their availability in the body.
Why it matters: When we talk about total vs. free testosterone, SHBG is a key piece of the equation. A high SHBG level means it’s likely that less free testosterone is available to use in your body. A low SHBG level indicates more of your testosterone is bioavailable.
Optimal levels: The optimal range varies depending on gender, age, and other factors. Men tend to have lower SHBG levels, and both men and women experience a gradual increase with age.
What it is: Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in both men and women. It has androgenic or ‘male type’ influences on the body, but it’s important for both sexes. DHEA is often hailed as the ‘fountain of youth hormone’ because it peaks in early adulthood and declines with age.
Why it matters: DHEA is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen, so it’s a foundational part of your hormone balance. “DHEA supports mood, energy, cognition, and muscle mass,” says Lifeforce Physician Kimberly Hartzfeld, DO, OB-GYN. “In women, it also improves vaginal tissue when used locally to help decrease vaginal dryness in menopause.”
In men: 400 - 500 ug/dL
In women: 250 - 350 ug/dL
What it is: Also known as E2, estradiol is the main form of estrogen during a woman's reproductive years, and it drops precipitously in menopause.
Why it matters: “Estradiol supports female organs including the uterus, vagina, breasts, and bladder,” says Dr. Hartzfeld. When levels dip, women may experience fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, decrease in cognitive function, vaginal dryness, and thinning hair. While it’s known as the ‘female hormone,’ it is also important in men — if levels are too low or too high, it can affect mood, libido, and sexual function.
In men: 10 - 50 pg/mL
In women: This depends on age and timing of the menstrual cycle. In menopausal women on hormone therapy, the optimal range is 50 - 100 pg/mL. In women in the reproductive age range, normal levels are 30 - 400 pg/mL. Optimal levels depend on the timing of the cycle.
What it is: Progesterone, which is produced in the ovaries, is the other primary hormone in women. Its biggest jobs are to support the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
Why it matters: Like estradiol, progesterone levels decrease during menopause. This can cause a lot of changes during ‘the change,’ including sleep disturbances, anxiety, moodiness, and brain fog. Optimizing progesterone has been shown to enhance sleep quality and brain processing.
In men: 0 - 0.5 ng/mL
In women: 1.5 - 8 ng/mL. In women on hormone therapy, the optimal range is 10 - 20 ng/mL.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)
What it is: IGF-1 is a hormone found naturally in your blood. It manages the effects of growth hormone (GH), and together, they tell your muscles and bones to grow.
Why it matters: Even as adults, we need growth hormones to feel our best. “Optimal IGF-1 levels can help support energy, muscle mass, recovery after exercise, cognition, mood, and skin,” says Dr. Hartzfeld.
Optimal levels: The normal range depends on age, and levels decline as we get older. To maintain an optimal level, you want to aim for the top 25th percentile of your normal range. For example, if your normal range is 50 - 200 ng/mL, your optimal range is 162 - 200 ng/mL.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
What it is: Produced in the pituitary gland, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is crucial for the reproductive system. It helps women release their eggs and men make sperm.
Why it matters: If your FSH levels are too low, it can lead to fertility struggles, irregular or missed periods, low libido, and decreased muscle mass. (However, this level can be appropriately suppressed in men and women on hormone therapy.)
In men: 0 - 12.4 mIU/ml
In women: This varies depending on age. In women on hormone therapy, the optimal range is 0 - 7 mIU/ml.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
What it is: Luteinizing hormone (LH) is FSH's partner in reproductive health. In women, LH causes the ovaries to release eggs. In men, it supports testosterone and sperm production.
Why it matters: Similar to FSH, low LH impinges on fertility, menstrual cycles, sex drive, and muscle mass. (However, this level can be appropriately suppressed in men and women on hormone therapy.)
In men: 1.7 - 8.6 mIU/ml
In women: This varies depending on age. In women on hormone therapy, the optimal range is 1 - 11.4 mIU/ml.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
What it is: Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland, and it signals the thyroid to release hormones such as T3 and T4.
Why it matters: “The thyroid’s main role is to regulate metabolism, which is the rate at which your body takes food and converts it into energy for our cells to use,” says Dr. Hartzfeld. “Without energy, our cells can’t function and organs start to fail, leading to chronic disease.” Your thyroid also plays a part in weight management, skin and hair health, cognition, and energy levels.
Optimal levels: 0.5 - 2.5 uIU/mL
What it is: Thyroxine, also known as T4, is one of the main hormones released by the thyroid. It comes in two forms: Bound, which is the type attached to proteins, and Free T4, which means it enters your body’s tissues freely where it’s needed.
Why it matters: Together with T3, T4 has a hand in optimizing metabolism, heart function, digestion, cognition, and bone health.
Optimal levels: 1.1 - 1.77 ng/dl
Learn Your Levels With the Lifeforce Diagnostic
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Critical nutrients are natural compounds that are, well, critical to support every cellular function in your body. They help your cells create energy, clean up inflammation, support hormone production, and optimize mood and mental function.
What it is: The sunshine vitamin — which, surprise, is actually a hormone — is made from cholesterol in your skin when it’s exposed to the sun. Testing for 25-Hydroxy (25-OH), a form of vitamin D produced in the liver, is the most common way to measure how much D is in the body.
Why it matters: While vitamin D has made its bones as an important nutrient for bone health, it has “hundreds of critical roles such as regulating gene expression, aiding in calcium and phosphorus absorption in the GI tract, optimizing thyroid function, and helping prevent insulin resistance,” says Lifeforce Physician Susan Grabowski, DO. It also helps energy and mood.
Optimal levels: 50 - 100 ng/mL
What it is: This amino acid byproduct is key to understanding your B vitamin levels. It’s recycled by the body when you have an adequate amount of vitamins B2, B6, B9, and B12.
Why it matters: If your homocysteine levels are high, it means your body may be lacking folate and B vitamins. “Elevated homocysteine increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia,” says Dr. Grabowski.
Optimal levels: 5-10 umol/L
What it is: This mineral, which is mostly stored in bones, activates more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Like a multi-tasking manager, magnesium ensures that every system in your body is performing its job efficiently.
Why it matters: Magnesium impacts energy production, muscle and nerve function, immune health, bone formation, metabolism of nutrients, glucose uptake, blood pressure regulation, and more. “Magnesium doesn’t do the jobs itself but others can’t do their jobs without it,” says Dr. Masutto. “It’s so foundational that magnesium is my desert island supplement.”
Optimal levels: 1.6-2.3 mg/dL
These biomarkers get to the heart of the matter, assessing your risks for cardiovascular disease — the number one cause of death in the United States. These markers also measure how cleanly and efficiently your body converts food to energy.
What it is: Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. The body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you also get more from foods like meat, eggs, and cheese. Total cholesterol is the total amount in your blood, which includes both LDL and HDL.
Why it matters: Your body needs some cholesterol to produce essential vitamins and hormones such as vitamin D, testosterone, and estrogen. However, too much cholesterol can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Optimal levels: 100 - 199 mg/dL
What it is: LDL, which stands for low-density lipoprotein, is a particle that carries fats throughout the bloodstream. It is often called the “bad cholesterol” because when it’s circulating in higher amounts, it can increase your cardiovascular risk.
Why it matters: Research shows that young adults with LDL levels higher than 100 mg/dL had a 64% increased risk for heart disease later in life than those with levels under 100 mg/dL. When you have high LDL combined with inflammation in the arteries, cholesterol converges on the inflammation site to repair it, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke, explains Lifeforce Physician Rachael Gonzalez, MD.
Optimal levels: Less than 90 mg/dL
What it is: You can think of HDL — aka the “good cholesterol” — as the counterbalance to LDL. It stands for high-density lipoprotein, and its job is to absorb other forms of cholesterol in the blood and take it back to your liver to be broken down and flushed out.
Why it matters: Higher LDL levels have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease. Physicians will look at your ratio of HDL to total cholesterol to help determine your risk.
In men: More than 45 mg/dL
In women: More than 55 mg/dL
What it is: When you eat, your body converts extra calories into triglycerides, a type of lipid that gets stored in fat cells. Your body uses this fat as fuel between meals, but if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll hang on to triglycerides — usually in the form of belly fat.
Why it matters: High triglycerides are another contributor to heart disease and stroke. With extremely high levels, they can also lead to pancreatitis. Increased levels are often a sign of other conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, a sluggish thyroid, or problems with your liver, kidney, or pancreas.
Optimal levels: 0 - 149 mg/dL
What it is: Blood glucose (aka blood sugar) is the main sugar in your blood and your body’s primary source of energy. When your glucose levels go up, it signals to your pancreas to produce more insulin, a hormone that helps your body use sugar for energy.
Why it matters: Having too much glucose in your blood over time can be a sign of diabetes. It can also contribute to some not-so-sweet symptoms, including unhealthy hormone fluctuations, weight gain, thyroid and adrenal issues, mood swings, and brain fog.
Optimal levels: Less than 85 mg/dL
What it is: Hemoglobin A1C is the percentage of hemoglobin floating in your blood that has sugar stuck to it. This biomarker is often used to diagnose diabetes.
Why it matters: It’s crucial to take this number to heart because diabetes is a leading risk factor for heart disease. Says Lifeforce Physician Cono Badalamenti, MD, “If you have diabetes but have never had a heart attack, you have the same risk of having a heart attack as someone who has already had one.”
Optimal levels: Less than 5.3%
What it is: A cousin of LDL, VLDL stands for very-low-density lipoprotein. It’s produced in the liver and released into the bloodstream to transport triglycerides to tissues throughout the body.
Why it matters: High levels of VLDL have been linked to plaque buildup on artery walls, which can lead to blockages and restrict blood flow. VLDL works hand in hand with LDL to help predict heart disease, and these biomarkers are often considered together.
Optimal levels: 5 - 40 mg/dL
Key Risk Factors
These measurements are key to assessing your overall systematic health and predicting future health problems like heart disease and stroke, so you can be proactive about preventing them.
Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)
What it is: ApoB is a marker of all the “bad cholesterol” lipoproteins such as LDL, VLDL, IDL (intermediate-density lipoprotein), and Lp(a).
Why it matters: Many primary care physicians don’t test for ApoB, but it helps doctors put your cholesterol levels into context. “It’ll tell us how aggressive you need to be about reducing your cholesterol and what kind of reinforcements might help,” says Lifeforce Medical Director Vinita Tandon, MD. It can also reveal hidden risks. For example, people on a statin medication may reduce their LDL, but their ApoB could still be high, which presents a risk for heart disease.
Optimal levels: Less than 90 mg/dL
C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)
What it is: High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) is a marker of inflammation in the arteries, which can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, or prolonged factors like smoking, autoimmune disorders, and even emotional trauma.
Why it matters: Inflammation is a natural defense and healing reaction in the body, but too much of it does more harm than good. This marker is like a crystal ball that forecasts future damage. “When that number is too high for too long, that is a direct risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Badalamenti. Research shows that high levels of hs-CRP can increase the chance of a future heart attack.
Optimal levels: Less than 1 mg/L
What it is: This inflammatory type of cholesterol is genetic. “Some individuals have a mutation of the Lp(a) gene and produce a high amount of Lp(a),” says Dr. Gonzalez.
Why it matters: According to Dr. Gonzalez, Lp(a) is associated with more danger of heart disease and stroke, regardless of LDL levels. It may also contribute to serious blood clots. Since this marker is driven by genetics, knowing if you have an increased risk helps determine how closely you need to monitor and control the rest of your metabolic biomarkers.
Optimal levels: Less than 75 nmol/L
Put your heart, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, and more essential organs to the test. Optimizing your organ function right now is the key to living longer and healthier for years to come.
What it is: No bones about it: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. About 99% of your calcium is stored in your bones, and the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.
Why it matters: Calcium has many strengths, including building strong bones and teeth, releasing hormones, helping blood clot, and carrying nerve signals between your brain and every other part of your body. Calcium deficiency can cause fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain, and eventually increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Optimal levels: 8.7 - 10.2 mg/dL
What it is: Albumin is one of the principal proteins in blood plasma. It’s made by the liver, and it helps keep fluid from seeping out of your blood vessels into other tissues. It also acts as a carrier, transmitting essential hormones, enzymes, and vitamins throughout the body.
Why it matters: If you don’t have enough albumin in your bloodstream, fluid can build up in your lungs, belly, and other parts of your body, and it can lead to a dangerous condition called hypoalbuminemia. Low albumin levels may indicate liver or kidney disease. High levels are usually a sign of dehydration.
Optimal levels: 3.8 - 4.8 g/dL
What it is: Like albumin, globulin is a blood protein made in the liver.
Why it matters: Globulin plays an important role in liver function, blood clotting, and fighting infection. As with albumin, low levels can be a marker of liver or kidney disease.
Optimal levels: 1.5 - 4.5 g/dL
What it is: This biomarker measures the ratio of albumin to globulin, the two main proteins in your blood.
Why it matters: A low A/G ratio has been associated with kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Optimal levels: 1.2 - 2.2
What it is: This test shows the total amount of albumin and globulin in your blood.
Why it matters: Similar to the A/G ratio biomarker, this is another indicator of kidney and liver function. These tests are all part of a comprehensive metabolic panel that gives us a full picture of your organ health.
Optimal levels: 6 - 8.5 g/dL
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)
What it is: This enzyme is released by the biliary system — the liver, gallbladder, and all the ducts that connect them — if the structure is damaged. Your bones are the other main source of alkaline phosphatase (ALP).
Why it matters: "Alkaline Phosphatase serves as a valuable indicator for evaluating liver and bone health,” says Dr. Antoniou. “Elevated levels potentially indicate liver disease, bone disorders, or even nutritional deficiencies."
Optimal levels: 44 - 121 IU/L
What it is: Your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding cells. Bilirubin is a natural byproduct of red blood cell breakdown. It’s processed in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and eventually flushed out as waste.
Why it matters: Bilirubin will build up in your system if your liver or gallbladder aren’t functioning properly. Persistently high levels can be a sign of liver disease or a blood disorder.
Optimal levels: Less than 1.2 mg/dL
Creatinine, BUN, and BUN/Creatinine Ratio
What they are: Creatinine is an amino acid produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas that helps build and energize your muscles. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is a waste product made when your liver breaks down protein. Together, these two biomarkers are used to assess how your kidneys are working.
Why they matter: According to Dr. Antoniou, the BUN and BUN/Creatinine Ratio tests offer a vital look at kidney function and hydration status. “Elevated levels can potentially point to kidney disease, dysfunction, or dehydration,” he says.
BUN: 6 - 20 mg/dL
Creatinine: .6 - 1 mg/dL
BUN/Creatinine Ratio: 9-23
ALT (SGPT) and AST (SGOT)
What they are: Alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) are both enzymes found primarily in the liver.
Why they matter: Think of ALT and AST as the bat signal your liver sends out when it’s under fire. The liver normally houses these enzymes, but releases them into the bloodstream when it’s injured or inflamed. Looking at ALT and AST levels side by side can help us find the cause of the distress.
ALT: Less than 32 IU/L
AST: Less than 40 IU/L
Total Carbon Dioxide
What it is: A byproduct of respiration, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver that tells your body to breathe.
Why it matters: You need carbon dioxide to breathe easy. When levels are high, it’s usually a sign of holding your breath or shallow breathing. When they’re low, it could mean you’re breathing out through your mouth very quickly, such as during a panic attack. Abnormal levels can also point to a pH or electrolyte imbalance.
Optimal levels: 20 - 29 mmol/L
What it is: Chloride is an electrolyte and mineral that helps regulate the amount of fluid in the body and maintain your acid-base balance. Your body needs the right proportion of acidic and basic (alkaline) compounds for your organs to function optimally.
Why it matters: "Chloride levels are essential for evaluating electrolyte balance, acid-base status, and kidney function,” says Dr. Antoniou. “Abnormal levels can indicate kidney or respiratory disorders."
Optimal levels: 96 - 106 mmol/L
What it is: Hematocrit (HCT) is the ratio of red blood cells to the fluid, or plasma, in your blood.
Why it matters:
Low levels may point to anemia, which can be caused by blood loss, bone marrow conditions, or a chronic illness such as thyroid disease, kidney disease, or certain cancers. Dehydration, excess testosterone, thiamin deficiency, or insulin resistance can raise HCT levels.
In men: 40 - 48%
In women: 37 - 44%
What it is: A protein in your red blood cells, hemoglobin (HGB) is responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues throughout your body.
Why it matters: If your levels are high, the likely culprit is dehydration. Excess testosterone, asthma, or living in a high-altitude location can also contribute. Low levels could be due to a B12, B6, or vitamin C deficiency, which can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
In men: 14 to 15 g/dL
In women: 13.5 to 14.5 g/dL
What it is: Platelets, or thrombocytes, are cells that help your blood clot. If you have a cut, platelets will mobilize and bind to the site of the damaged blood vessel to help stop the bleeding and heal the wound. There are tens of thousands of platelets in a single drop of blood.
Why it matters: A low platelet count — which may be a sign of bone marrow damage, certain cancers, or infections — can prevent blood from clotting. A high platelet count — indicating immune system issues or infections — can cause too much clotting or even abnormal bleeding.
Optimal levels: 150 - 450 x10E3/uL
What it is: Sodium is a mineral and electrolyte found in the body, and it makes up 40% of sodium chloride — aka salt — in food.
Why it matters: Sodium levels are a delicate balance. Your body requires a small amount to contract and relax muscles, conduct nerve impulses, and maintain the optimal proportion of water and minerals, so sodium is worth its salt. But too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Optimal levels: 134 - 144 mmol/L
What it is: Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body. It’s often referred to as an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions.
Why it matters: Potassium’s principal roles are to keep your heartbeat regular, help nerves function, and move nutrients into cells and waste out of cells. Potassium can also help offset some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.
Optimal levels: 3.5 - 5.2 mmol/L
What it is: A WBC count measures the number of white blood cells (aka leukocytes) in your blood. White blood cells are defenders, helping your body fight infections.
Why it matters: Suboptimal levels could be a signal of certain viruses, bacterial infections, autoimmune disorders, or bone marrow deficiency. Anything that activates your immune system — from a one-time injury to a chronic illness — can raise your count.
Optimal levels: 3.4 - 10.8 x10E3/uL
RBC, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW
What they are: These five biomarkers are all different measurements of your red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body. This is essential for your cells to grow, produce, and stay optimized. Physicians will often look at these numbers together to help pinpoint the cause of any deficiencies.
Why they matter: "The red blood cell markers provide valuable information about the size, shape, and distribution of red blood cells, enabling us to assess oxygen-carrying capacity, detect potential clotting risks, identify mineral or vitamin deficiencies, and evaluate the functioning of the spleen and bone marrow," says Dr. Antoniou.
RBC: 3.8 - 5.3 x10E6/uL
MCV: 79 - 97 fL
MCH: 26.6 - 33 pg
MCHC: 31.5 - 35.7 g/dL
RDW: 11.7 - 15.4%
Ready to learn your levels? Sign up for the Lifeforce Diagnostic here to get started. After your blood test, you’ll receive a comprehensive lab report and schedule a virtual consult with your Lifeforce Physician to review your results and make a customized plan.
This article has been medically reviewed by:
Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism
Alex Antoniou, MD, ABNM Board Certified in Nuclear Medicine