Using a Functional Lens to Get Clues from Your Annual Blood Work and Why “Normal” Ranges are Not Always Optimal

Tennee | November 11, 2019

Radiant Reality Blog | Using a Functional Lens to Get Clues from Your Annual Blood Work


Every year, people go to their health care provider to get their annual checkup and along with that checkup comes a CBC/CMP/blood workup. These are the panels that your health care provider uses to screen for health issues and its what I see the most frequently when meeting with new clients. 

It’s quite common for people in my office to note that they don’t "feel like themselves" and yet they had their annual blood workup done and their doctor said everything appears within the “normal” range.

What bloodwork is generally ordered?

Traditional panels ordered by your physician are generally a CBC or complete blood count, CMP or complete metabolic panel and sometimes include lipid panels which measure cholesterol levels and gives an overall picture of cardiac risk. Occasionally there will be a marker or two for your thyroid health included as well. 

Why the "normal" ranges are not actually optimal

This “normal” range of these labs is based on a wide bell curve based on the population which is becoming more and more sick with time. The normal bell curves will generally place 95% of the population in a normal range and 2.5% of the population will be above the normal range and 2.5% of the population will show below the normal range. With these ranges, a physician can identify and diagnose an official disease state and pathology. 

Functional ranges versus Allopathic ranges

Unfortunately, a traditional physician does not use a lens that allows them to work with “clues” that identify if someone is moving out of an optimal health state. The work of your physician is to diagnose and treat disease states and that can look very black and white with blood work. 


However, life is not black and white. There is a tremendous amount of grey area in life and this applies to your health as well. Functional ranges are the “grey areas” in lab work. They are based on optimal physiology and not the “normal” values found by your traditional physician.


Functional medicine and nutrition practitioners use smaller functional ranges to evaluate the “grey areas” which can detect factors that may be causing imbalances or obstructing a patient’s optimal health. This lens is much much narrower than an allopathic lens.

My Story

When I was struggling with my health the first place I went to was my primary care physician. I remember having my annual CBC/CMP done locally. I was having issues with my energy and stamina. My doctor informed me that my iron was low and I should probably take an iron supplement. What my doctor did not mention was that I had lymphocytes, neutrophils, basophils, and monocytes that were “trending higher” but had not reached an official “out of range” high. Therefore my bloodwork looked “normal” in my doctor’s eyes. 


However,  I did not feel “normal” and so I continued the search. I ended up bringing my lab results to a functional nutrition practitioner who looked at my bloodwork and recommended that I run a GI panel. As it turns out, I had a significant GI infection that needed to be addressed. I worked to both remove infection and lower inflammation throughout my system, this in term helped me regain my energy and stamina. If I had only taken the iron supplement, as recommended by my doctor, I would likely still be where I was 8 years ago, only probably worse off as I would not have truly addressed the root cause.

Why am I sharing this?

I see many clients who have “normal” lab values. They come in because they feel misunderstood by the traditional medical model. They don’t feel healthy but they chalk it up to “old age”, stress, being a busy mom, etc.


What I find with clients is that there are in fact, many important clues hidden in the CBC/CMP range that can be addressed nutritionally and can be a great jumping-off point for people that want to start making changes but don’t know where to start.


If you have a good relationship with your doctor there are some extra markers you may be able to request that can provide more information than just a traditional CBC/CMP. There are also labs online that can offer these markers but the expense is out of pocket. 

Extra markers to request include but are not limited to:

  • C-Reactive protein (hsCRP) - Marker for generalized inflammation. When high, it may indicate infection, autoimmunity and or a need for diet shifts.
  • Vitamin D - Low levels of Vitamin D are linked with chronic infection, autoimmunity, and poor immune function.
  • Vitamin B12 and folate panel - Important with any methylation issues, may indicate a need for diet and supplement support and may be important if anemia is an issue.
  • Fasting Glucose - Important if blood sugar issues are a concern
  • Hemoglobin A1C - Measures blood glucose
  • Thyroid markers - TSH, Free T3 and Free T4, reverse T3 and if Hashimotos is a concern: TPO and thyroglobulin

In my practice, I recently started offering clients a functional nutritional lens for interpretation of their CBC/CMP results. This is helpful for people interested in starting to make changes nutritionally based on their CBC/CMP. 


I am now offering the functional CBC/CMP nutritional consult as a one time consult for people who have gotten their blood work up within the past three months and are interested in working with a functional nutritional lens to address health concerns.


| Contact (707) 972-5893 or radiantrealitynutrition@gmail.com for more information.

If you are an email subscriber, I am offering 10% off

a 1 hour CBC/CMP nutritional consult session.

(This is good through the month of January 2020.)

Wishing you a Radiant Reality

Thanks for reading my blog.

If you like this please share!

The information provided by Tennee Gay of Radiant Reality Nutrition is not intended to replace the care from your doctor. The information is not intended as medical advice. Only a licensed medical health care provider can diagnose certain ailments and prescribe treatment and medication. Tennee Gay and Radiant Reality Nutrition are not acting in the capacity of a doctor and any information conveyed is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Write a comment

Comments: 0