High cholesterol and weight gain with background of low inflammation and stable blood sugar

I have my test results back. In order to save some dough while still testing markers I was interested in, I ended up getting results from three different companies: Wellness FX, Life Extension, and Requestatest. This meant I had to visit two locations for a blood draw, but it wasn’t inconvenient since they’re very close to each other.

(By the way, LEF is having their annual blood test sale until June 6th.)
These are my test results as compiled in Wellness FX. I recommend table view [pdf] over sparkline [pdf], unless you’re looking for a trend.

Cholesterol
If I walked into a doctor’s office today with these lab results, there are three or four things I’m certain the doctor would want to discuss. The first is my lipid panel. According to conventional medical interpretation, I’m doing everything wrong. My total cholesterol, trigs, and LDL are going up, and my HDL is going down. I don’t follow the conventional interpretation very closely, though. There are many health researchers and gurus like Stephanie Seneff that don’t think cholesterol is inherently bad, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. As well, there is some evidence saying that high HDL might not be so beneficial after all. I’m not ready to declare a war on cholesterol yet, but movements this large are concerning to me, if for no other reason than that I have no solid explanation for why they exist. And I don’t like it when things are red.

Iron
The second area of concern I would expect a doctor to bring up is my iron levels. I got an anemia panel out of curiosity, and because I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting stuff about iron. My last blood donation was on March 9th. The blood tests are from April 13th. My ferritin and iron saturation are out of range (on the low side) and my iron serum is in range on the low side. I don’t really understand a lot of these anemia numbers since most of them seem to be calculations and not actual measurements. For instance, TIBC is an estimation of transferrin available to bind iron. The actual transferrin test is much more expensive. To me, a calculation is at least a little suspect since it is itself an interpretation and therefore reflects bias. (Notably, most lipid values seem to be calculated as well). As far the iron side of anemia is concerned, it seems that I’m anemic. However, both B9 and B12 numbers are high (though LEF says my B12 is too high).

RBC
My red blood cell count is high. I’ve seen this since I started doing labs, but there wasn’t anything directly actionable to implement and it doesn’t sound super hazardous to have high RBC. However, when I got to see my dad’s most recent labs a few months ago, I noticed his RBC was high, too, so my interest was peaked and I did some digging. I found a condition called Polycythemia, but it looks like that wouldn’t apply to me since my hematocrit is below 55. Other causes of high RBC include, but are not limited to: poor oxygenation and dehydration. I live in Colorado, so altitude could be a factor. I’m thinking dehydration is a factor as well. On my August 2015 labs, my BUN/Creatinine ratio was at its lowest point (indicating better hydration) and that was the only time my RBC test was in range. With my April 2016 labs, my BUN/Creatinine ratio rose (indicating less hydration), and my RBC rose.

Carbon dioxide
On a related note (oxygenation), my CO2 levels have lowered since I started testing in March 2014. I would be concerned about this, except haidut uncovered something interesting about CO2 blood tests. The blood tests actually measure bicarbonate, which alkalizes the blood. CO2 acidifies the blood, so a lower bicarbonate level (what the blood test actually measures) would suggest more alkaline blood and therefore less CO2. Hopefully, this is a correct understanding of events. I have been drinking a lot more carbonated water than before I started testing.

Vitamin D
Any functional medicine practitioner would be worried about a vitamin D level of 31 ng/mL. To be honest, it worries me a little since it’s on the verge of insufficiency. Many vitamin D advocates suggest levels between 50 to 80, and possibly 100. The reason my level is low is because there is a seasonal variation in vitamin D availability (the sun) and the mercurial and neurotic Woo pointed out that there is some evidence that this is beneficial (study citation in link). So I didn’t supplement with vitamin D during the winter, and I don’t think I supplemented with vitamin D very much at all last year. I did supplement a little bit staring in February to kickstart my levels this summer.
I got sick twice this winter, and both times were around seasonal transitions: in November (first big snow) and February (when winter was loosening its icy grip). Over the past few years, I have observed myself and even other people experiencing what I’ll call “symptom flux” when seasons change. I think my sickness in February was brought on by me getting too much sun on my body, or starting D3 supplementation.

Magnesium
My RBC magnesium was in the middle of the range, but I’d like to move it higher, above 6.0.

Weight
Another thing that would worry doctors is my increase in weight.  I weigh 170 lbs right now, the most I’ve ever weighed. It seems to be all packed around my gut, as I’m starting to develop a paunch. The cause is definitely not inflammation; I got several inflammation markers tested and they’re all low. It’s also not blood sugar, since both blood glucose and Hba1c are where they’ve been since I started testing. My guess is that there is an energy excess. I’ve been eating a lot more carbs, particularly rice, oatmeal, maple syrup, and honey. I know, I’m terrible. I was influenced by Matt Stone and decided to experiment a little bit. I also started drinking a gallon of raw milk each week starting in January. I’ve been relatively sedentary, aside from going for walks 3-4 times a week.

TSH
My TSH continues to trend lower after the jump that was most likely caused by iodine megadosing. In light of my weight gain, I’m really temped to get a full thyroid panel very soon.

Inflammation
Like I said earlier, inflammatory markers are all good. LDH is in range. hsCRP is in range. ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate; sedimentation rate-westergren) is 2 mm/hr with a range of 0-15. TNF-alpha is 0.8 pg/mL with a range of 0-8.1.

Vitamin A
Another indulgence/curiosity. Retinol is 58 ug/mL with a range of 24-85. Beta carotene is 63 ug/mL with a range of 3-91.

Going from here
I do not really like the taste of coconut oil, but I want to eat two or more tablespoons every day. Also, will do 500mg of niacinamide twice a day. I stopped niacinamide for a while because either B3 or ascorbate (average half tsp a day) was starting to give me scurvy. I’m intrigued by the prospect of raw carrot fiber, and aim to hit 150 grams of carrot fiber per day. I’ve been slacking on transdermal magnesium, and will do that more often. I want to remove milk from my diet for 2-4 weeks and see if I notice anything suggesting a sensitivity. Finally, I’ll reintroduce Bulletproof IF to my toolbox. I’m thinking about doing a three day fast. A ceruloplasmin test might be interesting.

Seeking comment on
Iron/blood markers

Is there a test for LPS?

Carbon dioxide

Weight gain in context of low inflammation and stable blood sugar

Rising cholesterol in context of low inflammation and stable blood sugar

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High cholesterol and weight gain with background of low inflammation and stable blood sugar