One of the most important blood tests we get on a monthly basis is albumin. Albumin is a blood protein made by the liver.It is a marker for health. A normal level indicates that you are well-nourished and doing well. A low level indicates that you are at increased risk for getting sick and hospitalized. A normal level is 4 or more.
Reasons why it may be low:
- One reason why your albumin may be low is because you are not eating enough protein. Remember that you need to take in protein to make protein. The blood test that tells us whether you are taking in enough protein is a test called the PCR. A normal PCR is greater than 0.9. If it is less than that, it means that you are not getting enough protein in your diet. Remember that good sources of protein are meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and cottage cheese.
- Another reason why it may be low is inflammation. Inflammation can be due to many things. For instance, it can be due to a foot ulcer, a bed sore, a hidden infection in the body, too much fluid in the body, infection in the gums (also called gingivitis). If your albumin is low but your protein intake is good, then we need to try and track down any source of inflammation.
- Another reason for a low albumin is liver disease. This can be due to alcohol or hepatitis C, for instance. This is a less common cause then the others.
- The final reason why it may be low is if you are losing it. Two places where you may lose it is in the urine (but you would have to be making a lot
of urine) or though the stools if you are having diarrhea.
Every month you should ask what your albumin and PCR are. If your albumin is low and your protein intake is low,as reflected by a low PCR, then the best way to make it higher is by taking in more protein in your diet and through supplements. If your albumin is low and your protein intake is good, then we need to track down a source of inflammation, such as a hidden infection