Women live longer than men because women go to the doctor. Sure there is more to it than that, but it’s also true that if a woman sees a mole or something, she’s calling the dermatologist. Men accept “aches and pains” as sign they are growing old and never see a doctor until it’s too late.
Part of taking care of yourself is getting regular blood work done (at least once a year) and knowing how to read your own blood work. The most important tests for men health are testosterone levels, cholesterol levels, fasting glucose levels, and Vitamin D.
- As always, never undergo a diet or exercise regime without a doctor’s supervision!
Yes, you have to learn how to read your own labs because most doctors won’t order the full male anti-aging lab work you need (insurance companies often won’t cover a full panel), and if when doctors do order full labs, they only look to see if you’re with “range.”
Take testosterone levels for example. My own recent blood works shows I am within range, and even have a healthy overall testosterone level. But I’m at the bottom 20% percentile for free testosterone. (Isn’t it funny that people often accuse me of having ‘roid rage. I’m actually low T!)
Let’s go into my own blood work.
Here is what the lab work looks like. Does it sound confusing? Fret not.
This testosterone lab result shows my testosterone levels are 538.8 ng/dL.
500 ng/DL is considered a healthy level by most general physicians who tell you to eat according to the Food Pyramid. It’s also the magic number to get TRT.
- See, “Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Playing Catch-up With Patients“
- Although there is no consensus on an absolute number that defines a low testosterone level, concern exists that there are economic incentives to raise the bar for normal and thereby increase the potential market for testosterone-raising products. Many commercial avenues for the treatment of low T do not follow the standards of the established medical community. Some websites suggest screening for low T with total and free testosterone levels for all men aged > 40 years. Others advise men to consider TRT if they have a total testosterone level of < 500 ng/dL or a free testosterone level that is not in the upper one-third range for men aged 21 to 49 years.
Even though my testosterone is within the average range, but the biological marker that matters is free testosterone.
- Free Testosterone(Direct) 9.5 NORMAL
The range for free testosterone is 6.8-21.5 pg/mL. A level of 9.5 pg/mL is in the low range of testosterone.
Of course if you go to the doctor and get labs ordered, it’s unlikely he or she will even order a test for free testosterone.
And unless you ask for your results, the doctor is only going to look to see if you’re within range.
You can have low testosterone or have other issues even if you’re within range.
The scientific consensus on cholesterol levels and heart attack risk is a mess. First they said high cholesterol would lead to a heart attack. Then they said your HDL (high density lipoprotein) levels should be used to offset your overall levels. Now…. They don’t know.
Here is the latest on cholesterol and heart attack risk according to the Mayo Clinic:
For predicting your risk of heart disease, many doctors now believe that determining your non-HDL cholesterol level may be more useful than calculating your cholesterol ratio.
And either option appears to be a better risk predictor than your total cholesterol level or even your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level. Non-HDL cholesterol, as its name implies, simply subtracts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol number from your total cholesterol number. So it contains all the “bad” types of cholesterol.
An optimal level of non-HDL cholesterol is less than 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.37 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Higher numbers mean a higher risk of heart disease.
To calculate your cholesterol ratio, divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL cholesterol number. So if your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L) and your HDL is 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L), your ratio would be 4-to-1. Higher ratios mean a higher risk of heart disease.
My HDL level is 65 and my total cholesterol level is 199.
- 199 / 65 = 3.06
According to available consensus, I have a less than half the risk of a heart attack:
The Framingham Heart Study states that the following cholesterol ratios roughly signal different degrees of heart disease risk:
5.0 = average risk
3.4 = half the average risk
9.6 = twice the average risk
Because I have had my labs measured for years, I see that my LDL levels increased.
2013 cholesterol levels:
- Total 132
- Triglycerides 41
- HDL cholesterol 45
- VLDL cholesterol 8
- LDL cholesterol 79
Because I’ve tracked my blood work since 2013, I see that my LDL went up, spiking my total cholesterol level. Basically because I’ve eaten like a fat ass all year while still exercising.
HDL levels go up when you exercise aggressively.
Fasting glucose levels (measured in two ways) are more important that cholesterol levels. Your fasting glucose levels on a blood test will show you your risk for diabetes.
- Glucose 89 ….. NORMAL 65-99 mg/dL
89 is good, especially as my levels in 2013 were 84.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
- A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.
I also had my Hemoglobin A1c labs done:
- Hemoglobin A1c 4.9
That’s a freaking good number according to Mayo:
- Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test, which doesn’t require fasting, indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you’ll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Below 5.7 is considered normal.
I’ve still cut the carbs down largely because my diet is a disaster as anyone who follows my Instagram knows.
Vitamin D levels should be in the 50 ng/mL range.
My result was 40.1 ng/mL range.
No big deal, I’ll start taking 5,000 iu’s of Vitamin D a day for a month or two and also make sure to get some more sunshine.
Misc blood work / lab results
Each person is different and your blood will tell the tale.
A full lab shows more than just tesosterone levels, and looks like this:
CBC With Differential/Platelet WBC 5.6 NORMAL 3.4-10.8 x10E3/uL 01 RBC 4.60 NORMAL 4.14-5.80 x10E6/uL 01
Hemoglobin 14.1 NORMAL 13.0-17.7 g/dL 01
Hematocrit 42.4 NORMAL 37.5-51.0 % 01
MCV 92 NORMAL 79-97 fL 01 MCH 30.7 NORMAL 26.6-33.0 pg 01
MCHC 33.3 NORMAL 31.5-35.7 g/dL 01 RDW 13.2 NORMAL 12.3-15.4 % 01
Platelets 286 NORMAL 150-450 x10E3/uL 01 Neutrophils 38 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01
Lymphs 44 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01
Monocytes 14 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01 Eos 3 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01 Basos 0 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01
Neutrophils (Absolute) 2.1 NORMAL 1.4-7.0 x10E3/uL 01
Lymphs (Absolute) 2.5 NORMAL 0.7-3.1 x10E3/uL 01
Monocytes(Absolute) 0.8 NORMAL 0.1-0.9 x10E3/uL 01 Eos (Absolute) 0.2 NORMAL 0.0-0.4 x10E3/uL 01
Baso (Absolute) 0.0 NORMAL 0.0-0.2 x10E3/uL 01
Immature Granulocytes 1 NORMAL Not Estab. % 01
Immature Grans (Abs) 0.0 NORMAL 0.0-0.1 x10E3/uL 01
How to Get Blood Work Done.
I get the Male Anti-Aging Panel from Private MD Labs here.
Past experiences with doctors have shown that they won’t order the full labs, and when they do, they often won’t send you the full records.
I also like that I can log into a dashboard and get all of my blood work for over half a decade.
This is what the dashboard looks like. I have all of my data in one place, and they don’t charge you an annual fee to keep it stored here, unlike many of the new “health apps.”
The Male Anti-Aging Panel is comprehensive and covers every test I mentioned above and a lot more.
I get the Male Anti-Aging Panel done once every 12-18 months, because it’s expensive (your health is worth it), and I get a smaller test done more frequently as needed.
HEALTHY12 usually works as a 12% off coupon code. I used it on my last test and it worked.
What to do about Testosterone Levels.
Go see a doctor who specializes in male hormone optimization. Don’t waste your time with a General Practitioner unless you have a good relationship with him and her and they won’t give you any static.
TRT is around $80 a month.
Now there’s a lot of disinformation about TRT, and my answer is that I don’t care if you go see a doctor about TRT.
I don’t have all day to hand hold cry babies who believe the lies.
Get your labs done, take care of your health, and talk to a doctor.
And listen to this podcast:
The Complete Guide to Fasting for Fat Loss, Increased Focus, and Spirituality
However also know that most of what you read online about how to “naturally raise testosterone levels” is bullshit as are those over-the-counter “testosterone boosters.”
If you enjoyed this article about men’s health, read Gorilla Mindset, which covers mindset and physical health.
Supplements I take for overall Men’s Health
Vasky – a vasodilator.
Vasodilators are medications that open (dilate) blood vessels. They affect the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing. As a result, blood flows more easily through your vessels. Your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard, reducing your blood pressure.
As the great Dr. Brett Osborn is fond of saying, “You’re only as old as your blood vessels.”
Vasodilators open up your blood vessels, leading to improved circulation. (But you have to see a doctor because you may have bleeding issues and a vasodilator could be harmful!)
Vasodilators also improve blood flow to other parts of the body if you know what I mean.
Vasky Is from MTS Nutrition and you can get it here.
3 cans of sardines a week.
Sardines are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.
Other people take fish oil, although some evidence suggests the body doesn’t absorb the Omega 3’s from fish oil as well as it does from whole fish. (Some idiot is going to scare monger about mercury and just go away because that’s disinformation and we don’t have time for that here.)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the few supplements the straight-laced Mayo Clinic recommends:
Heart conditions. CoQ10 has been shown to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Although findings are mixed, CoQ10 might help reduce blood pressure. Some research also suggests that when combined with other nutrients, CoQ10 might aid recovery in people who’ve had bypass and heart valve surgeries. Parkinson’s disease. Early research suggests that high doses of CoQ10 might be beneficial for people in the early stages of this progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.
DHEA is less important than testosterone, but it’s still an important male hormone. Some evidence suggests that DHEA is good for bone health.
Magnesium is the most important supplement men (and women) can take.
Read the full fact sheet here:
Magnesium, an abundant mineral in the body, is naturally present in many foods, added to other food products, available as a dietary supplement, and present in some medicines (such as antacids and laxatives). Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.
Vitamin D is also a must-have supplement. Read the full fact sheet here:
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
Gorilla Mind Smooth.
Gorilla Mind Smooth is a stimulant-free focusing agent.
I take it most days, and sometimes stack it with Rush (as when I need to get a lot of writing done). Get it here.
Books to Read on Men’s Health
I only recommend two, because they are the best.
Get Serious by Dr. Brett Obsorn is the best general book on health and fitness for men.
The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible by Jay Campbell is the best book on testosterone and other specialized subjects.
Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich is the best overall book on mindset + good living.
Stay healthy friends!
This article is probably a lot of reading, and yet it’s only part of the knowledge you need to live a full and complete life.
If you have any questions, post them below!
P.S. If you made it this far, you deserve a reward. Use GM10 at checkout to save 10% on your full order at Gorilla Mind here.
That’s such a great point – men and women treat their own healthcare completely differently. It’s so important to do the things now that will positively affect your health in 20/30/40 years, but many folks will discontinue practices, supplements, or treatments that don’t yield a near-immediate impact. Men’s health, whether it’s T-related or not, is still an expanding area – it definitely behooves us all to do the reading, do the work, and advocate for ourselves with doctors and other healthcare pros. In my own case, I ordered my own labs because my GP would not. It practically saved my life.
Very interesting and I am a woman. I do HRT which includes Testosterone. I encourage my husband to do as you suggest. He once did take testosterone but it made him very irritable. I need to study more on Vasky. It sounds a bit drastic. Thank you for the info.
Really helpful to share your labs – thank you. I have one copy of APOE4 (the Alzheimer’s gene) and that will also cause lifelong cholesterol issues. When I look at someone without this gene, their cholesterol is a number I’ve never had in my life, and the I’m reminded of the big role of genetics that can sometimes mean it’s very important to stay on top of everything. Then from time to time I find out about a nutrient, like CoQ10, but don’t feel ready to take it, then forget . . . so this is a nice reminder for me also to consider trying it. I get big reactions to nutrients sometimes, so the process is slow.
Four years ago I had my testosterone tested (at age 44), and was a bit perplexed by the results. Testosterone was 917 (31.8 nmol/L), which is very high for my age, but free testosterone was 6.46 (224 pmol/L) which is at the low end of the reference range. All the info I’ve found on the web has been addressing the reverse situation, high free and low total, which seems to be a lot more common.
Interestingly, my GP ordered some tests last year and my total testosterone came out at 643 (22.3 nmol/L) – a one third drop (I was under a lot of stress at the time as well, as coping with pain from some sporting injuries which may have contributed) – so I’m wondering how much variation you have seen in your results over time.
Peachy Essay says
Great to see you are in good health Mike. Many years for you and your family.
Fasting insulin is more important than fasting glucose. Metabolic issues will show up many years before fasting glucose rises. 4 is best, 5 is better and 6 is ok.