June 24, 2022

3 Biomarkers Lifeforce MDs Find Most Frequently Out of Range In Our Members

Written By

Perry Santanachote

Medically Reviewed By

Kerri Masutto, MD

VP Clinical Operations

Medically Reviewed By

Vinita Tandon, MD

Lifeforce Medical Director

Lifeforce supports thousands of people on their journey to optimized health. As that trusted guide, we're able to spot trends in our biomarker data and share those insights to help empower all our members to look, feel, and perform at their best.

So what does our anonymized data show, and how does your own blood work stack up? We tapped Lifeforce doctors to share the top three biomarkers they’re seeing out of range for Lifeforce members, and how to get back on track if you’re in the same boat. 

1. High Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Biomarkers: ApoB & Total Cholesterol 

Why They Matter: Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

“Hearing that you have high cholesterol is a surprise for some people because your doctor might have dismissed it if you were hovering in the gray zone,” says Dr. Tandon, Lifeforce’s Medical Director, who notes we consider total cholesterol levels above 199 high, and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) above 90 less than optimal.  

But we’re also looking closely at apolipoprotein B (ApoB), a protein found in LDL that’s considered a risk marker for cardiovascular disease if it’s above 89 — something your primary care physician likely isn’t testing for, but is prioritized in your Lifeforce Diagnostic. Knowing your ApoB helps our doctors put your cholesterol readings into context, especially if you were in that aforementioned gray zone. “It’ll tell us how aggressive you need to be about reducing your cholesterol and what kind of reinforcements might help,” says Dr. Tandon.

Post-menopausal women, in particular, should check these cardiovascular markers regularly. That’s because estrogen is a cardioprotective hormone that they lose after menopause, says Dr. Tandon, making them as high risk as men for having a heart attack. 

“We often don’t act on things until it's too late, after a heart attack or mini-stroke, but you can be proactive and mitigate these risks,” says Dr. Tandon. “These data points are knowledge that you can act on to move the dial, live long, and be healthy.” 

What You Can Do: 

If your cholesterol is high but still on the milder side, LDL in the range of 100-120, the following diet and lifestyle changes could help lower it: 

  • Reduce saturated fat, which is found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products.

  • Eat fewer carbohydrates, particularly starches like white potatoes, white bread, and white rice.

  • Eliminate trans fats, which are found in processed foods.

  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, mackerel, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. A comprehensive omega-3 supplement can also help.

  • Boost your soluble fiber intake via whole grains, beans, fruits, and dark, leafy greens.

Lifeforce medical doctors will always recommend diet and lifestyle changes first, and then retest in a few months to measure your progress. “If you're making some impact, but not much, it may mean that you didn't make enough changes, or that your cholesterol is mostly driven by genetics and we may recommend talking about cholesterol-lowering medications based on your risk factors,” says Kerri Masutto, MD, functional medicine doctor and VP of Clinical Operations for Lifeforce. Your doctor can help you determine the safest and most effective plan for you. 

2. Low Hormone Levels 

Biomarker: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Why It Matters: Impacts your energy levels, mood, body composition, and libido

DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that naturally declines with age. Since DHEA is a precursor for the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, when levels drop, men and women can experience everything from fatigue to weight gain to low libido. While it’s not surprising for Lifeforce doctors to see suboptimal levels among our members, Dr. Tandon notes that it’s important for each members’ levels to be assessed individually, taking into account their symptoms, lifestyle, and goals to create the most comprehensive, safe, and effective plan of action. 

Lifeforce DHEA

What You Can Do: 

If your blood work from the Lifeforce Diagnostic reveals low DHEA levels (optimal levels are 400 to 500 for men and 250 to 350 for women) and you’re also experiencing fatigue, weight gain, and low libido, Lifeforce DHEA may help optimize sexual function and boost a healthy metabolism, says Dr. Tandon. And since the dosage is relatively low, you get the benefits without potential side effects. 

Supplementing DHEA while monitoring levels is also an option for women experiencing low testosterone since DHEA is its precursor. “It’s a great alternative to [traditional] testosterone replacement therapy for women,” says Dr. Tandon.

3. Low Growth Hormone 

Biomarker: Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)

Why It Matters: Impacts your body composition and energy levels 

IGF-1 is another hormone that we commonly see lower levels with age, but even though we’re all big kids now, we still need some growth hormones to function optimally. IGF-1 tells your bones and muscles to grow, so without it, you may lose muscle mass and stamina and gain body fat and fatigue. Dr. Tandon finds that people generally feel their best when their IGF-1 levels are in the upper quartile of the reference range (220 to 280 for men and  200 to 240 for women). 

What You Can Do: 

“Improving sleep hygiene can improve your IGF-1 levels since your body makes it during deep sleep,” says Dr. Tandon. A few suggestions for optimal sleep: 

  • Stop using your phone, TV, or laptop within 1 hour of bedtime.

  • Keep your bedroom temperature cool.

  • Draw the curtains to block out potentially sleep-disrupting light and street noise. 

  • Consider supplementing with magnesium and Peak Rest™ to promote relaxation and deep, uninterrupted sleep. 

If your IGF-1 level is still well below the range mentioned above and symptoms aren’t letting up, a customized dose of sermorelin can stimulate the body’s natural production of the growth hormone without the same side effects associated with growth hormone therapy. 

Need an extra hand putting your performance plan into action? Tap your Lifeforce Performance Guide (included with your Lifeforce Membership) to stay motivated and help you reach your goals. 

It all starts with arming yourself with the right data, tools, and support. And you don’t have to do it alone. 

Ready to take charge of your health? Sign up for your Lifeforce Membership today.

This article was medically reviewed by: 

  • Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism 

  • Kerri Masutto, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner