Should you get blood work done at a Sports Physical for Teen Athletes?

Early August I took my son to get his sports physical and took this opportunity to get a few blood panels done.

Here’s what I asked for:

  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (measures glucose, electrolytes, hydration, kidney, and liver functions_
  • Lipid Panel (measures cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and HDL)
  • Vitamin D Screen
  • TSH w/FT4 Reflex (measures thyroid hormone)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • NON-HDL Cholesterol (measures bad cholesterol in the bloodstream)

Not many doctors will suggest getting blood work done for teens during a physical or even a wellness check, they just assume if they are growing they are good. So you’ll need to request the blood work you’d like done.

However, I strongly feel it is very important to make sure they are metabolizing well and their electrolytes and hydration are in order, along with ensuring they have solid D3 levels to support their bone density and sports performance (plus a lot more discussed below).

I wanted the tests done because his mood has been off and he just seemed a bit depressed. Sure our circumstances in the world play into this but I needed to make sure he didn’t have any deficiencies.

When I got the tests back, I learned a few things. His bilirubin and albumin were slightly high – high enough to raise the “H” flag and his D3 is not optimal.

His doctor made no mention of any of this when she did her reports. So I told her my concerns about the bilirubin and albumin, she said she was not concerned but we can retest in 4-6 weeks. Ok, I’ll take that!

From my research it looks like increasing veggies and hydration can help bring these levels back down – so I am most definitely using this as ammo to get him to eat more veggies and do a little better in hydrating.

Also for athletes, D3 levels are optimal when over 40 ng/mL as it supports stronger bones, metabolism, MOOD, immunity, energy, and overall sports performance.

Ayden’s D3 levels are 32. So I will be following this study I found on NCBI’s site on how to supplement to get his levels up to 40+.

One thing that is very important when it comes to D3 supplementation is it’s more effective when combined with K2. K2 helps deliver calcium to the bones instead of the arteries.

Side note – if on a blood thinner don’t opt for K2 with your D3… OK? It may cause the blood to clot and lessen the effects of the blood thinner.

I prefer a D3 supplement that is liquid and contains a little bit of fat since D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin. I’ve personally been using Kal D-3 K-2 for a few years now and I really like it. It’s a citrus flavor and contains olive oil to help the body absorb the vitamins.

Even though Ayden is in the sun a lot and has a very nice tan going on – he’s still not at an optimal level of D3. This is why when I work with an athlete I always suggest blood work at either their sports physical or well check. The only way to know is by testing.

We get natural D3 from UVB light from the sun BUT you have to be out at a certain time of the day when the UVB is high. Also, those with darker skin have a hard time absorbing UVB due to the higher percentage of melanin in the skin.

And when you can’t get it from the sun, there’s always whole food sources that are high in D3 such as:
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Hering
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Egg Yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Dairy fortified with Vitamin D
Foods rich in K2 are:
  • Goose Liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg Yolks
  • Dark Chicken Meat
  • Grass-Fed Butter

Now based on this list – how many of these foods is your athlete eating on a regular basis?

For Ayden, salmon, egg yolks, dairy, dark meat chicken, and grass-fed butter, yet his D3 levels are not optimal. That is why I am choosing to start him on supplementation.

He’s going to play football for the first time this year and I’m trying to avoid him getting crushed to pieces! Can you tell I’m not concerned at all!! 😬

I will start working with Ayden on eating more veggies, adding some sea salt to his water for additional electrolytes and minerals, and supplementing with D3+K2 daily. 

I’ll have him retested in 8 weeks to see if his bilirubin and albumin come back down to normal and D3 increases to 40+. If nothing changes, I’ll reassess and figure out where to go from there.

I hope this encourages you to have your athlete get some blood work done too! Let’s avoid injury if at all possible going forward!

 

If you’d like to get a solid nutrition plan in place for your athlete – schedule a free 30-minute Sports Performance Nutrition Evaluation.