Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level)

Hypoalbuminemia is conventionally defined as albumin levels below 3.5gm/dl. However, levels don’t have to fall as low as 3.5 before trouble appears. Low levels of albumin have been linked to all cancers, with the risk of developing cancer rising as albumin falls. We have adjusted the range for “normal” albumin levels upward to reflect a more optimal level and to provide an earlier warning regarding potential health issues for those whose level is at the lower end of what most doctors would consider “normal”.

High cholesterol level is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. But low cholesterol in combination with low levels of the protein albumin in the blood may indicate a high risk of decline and death in elderly people. In a 7-year period, those with low cholesterol and albumin had 3.5 times the risk of dying, investigators have found. The risk of functional decline, such as the ability to do housework or walk up and down stairs, was also greater in people with a combination of low albumin and cholesterol compared with those with normal cholesterol and albumin levels. Low albumin in the blood can be an indicator of malnutrition, and possibly related to infection, inflammation, stress due to surgery, trauma, or liver or kidney disease.

Because about half of the calcium in your blood is bound by albumin, a normal calcium level with a low albumin level means there is too much calcium in your blood.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level)

Lab Values - Chemistries  

Hypoalbuminemia



Counter Indicators
Lab Values - Chemistries  

Normal albumin levels or hyperalbuminemia



Symptoms - Nails  

Stationary white lines across nails

Muehrcke’s Lines (side-to-side parallel white lines that do not move with nail growth) are caused by a nail bed abnormality, which in turn is probably due to hypoalbuminemia.




Conditions that suggest Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level)

Risks  

Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Declining albumin also indicates an increased risk of heart disease. A long-term British heart study found that a low albumin level was a good predictor of heart disease. Another study stated that the odds of suffering from coronary artery disease doubled when the albumin level fell to 4.4 (this is well within what is considered the “normal” range).




Risk factors for Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level)

Autoimmune  


Lab Values - Chemistries  

Hypocalcemia

The most common cause of low total calcium is low protein levels, especially low albumin. When low protein is the problem, the ionized calcium level remains normal.



Metabolic  

Nephrotic Syndrome (NS)

Blood analysis often shows high cholesterol levels and low albumin. Evaluation of the urine by a simple urine dipstick in the office can give preliminary information on the amount of protein in the urine. However, this test is a qualitative test. In order to determine the actual amount of protein in the urine, a 24-hour quantitative test must be done, which indicates levels of protein and creatinine in the urine. Often, a comparison of protein to creatinine based on a single sample is used to determine 24-hour protein loss. This is helpful for quicker results or when the patient cannot collect urine over 24 hours.



Organ Health  



Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level) suggests the following may be present

Diet  

Protein Deficiency

Insufficient dietary protein and excess carbohydrate intake may be related to a low albumin level.



Risks  



Recommendations for Hypoalbuminemia (A low albumin level)

Botanical  


Diet  


 


Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  


 

Test/Monitor Kidney Function

Simple kidney tests like BUN and creatinine are usually done at the same time as serum albumin.



 

Tests, General Diagnostic

A test for albumin level is usually included in a metabolic profile, otherwise known as a Chem 16, Chem 20, etc..



Mineral  


 


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help

Glossary

Gram

(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Cholesterol

A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Protein

Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.

Calcium

The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Carbohydrates

The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.

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