Looking Back on 2019: Most Popular Patient Blog Posts

As we ring in the new year, we are reminded of all the accomplishments that came with 2019. We launched our new serum testing, followed by our launch of a new LCMS Saliva Steroid Profile. We also welcomed with open arms our newest clinical consultant, Beth Baldwin, and surpassed 10 million tests completed worldwide! Wow, what a year! Before we close the door on 2019, let’s take a moment to look at the most popular blog posts for patients from 2019.


Understanding the Connection Between Hormones and Hair Loss

Understanding the Connection Between Hormones and Hair Loss Blog by Dr. Kate Placzek with ZRT LaboratoryA symbol of femininity for so many women, our hair demands attention. Both deeply personal and superficially public, changes in the looks of our hair can inspire a range of emotions, driving us to willingly partake in its cutting, straightening, curling, bleaching, darkening, or other aggressive chemical treatments. Hair is part of who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. This is why thinning hair is kind of a big deal – it can be a very frustrating topic for many women as there is no quick solution to getting more hair instantly.

Ironically the phrase “beauty is only skin deep” is not entirely appropriate in conversations about hair. Thinning, dry hair is actually a symptom of internal changes in the body. Perhaps viewed by some as a normal, inevitable sign of aging or response to stress, losing hair is oftentimes related to endocrine imbalances. This blog is going to review the role that hormones play in hair health.

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Brazil Nuts as a Selenium Supplement?

Brazil Nuts as a Selenium Supplement Blog by Theodore Zava with ZRT LaboratorySelenium is a trace essential element that is incorporated into selenoproteins. There are at least 25 known selenoproteins in the human body, their primary roles being antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and thyroid deiodinases that convert thyroxine (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). Deficiencies in selenium can be detrimental to health, while selenium excess can be just as dangerous. Brazil nuts are commonly used as a form of selenium supplementation, but it isn’t commonly known that the level of selenium in Brazil nuts is highly variable. 

Brazil nuts are well known for their high concentration of selenium. Soil conditions in parts of South America are unique in that they are deficient in sulfur, a necessary element required for the formation of the amino acids methionine and cysteine [1]. Selenium and sulfur are chemically very similar, so plants take up selenium in place of sulfur, forming the amino acids selenomethionine and selenocysteine. Soil often contains inorganic selenite and selenate, which are converted to organic selenomethionine and other methylated derivatives once taken up by the plant. Selenomethionine and selenocysteine can replace methionine and cysteine in proteins without loss of function.

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My Thyroid Story

My Thyroid Story by Dr. Kate Placzek with ZRT LaboratoryI was so tired. I needed a new word for tired. I felt exhausted and incapacitated, utterly drained and hollowed out. It was like my brain and body were fading. And yet, these words are still not descriptive enough to relate how I felt. Getting out of bed felt grueling, punishing. I was 24 at the time, in my 4th year of my PhD program at Purdue University. I was newly engaged and so in love with my soon-to-be husband. Really good things were happening in my life. And I could barely function.

On the weekends, I slept in till noon, got out of bed to have a bite of breakfast and would go back to bed until 4 in the afternoon. I could only stay up with my fiancé for a little while in the early evenings, just to go back to bed around 8. This went on for months. At some point, he even asked me if I enjoyed my weekends and I distinctly remember saying “well of course, that’s when I get to sleep in.” During those days, he liked to tease me, saying I was the human equivalent of a sloth. [I did not find that amusing].

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Testosterone Deficiency in Younger Men – Is It Real?

Testosterone Deficiency in Younger Men – Is It Real? Blog by Margaret Groves with ZRT LaboratoryLow testosterone in older men, often referred to as “male menopause” or even “andropause” is fairly well known — and testosterone replacement therapy in this age group has not been without its share of controversy, particularly with respect to heart health. Proper testing and dosing are all-important, as well as understanding a man’s physiology and all the factors that affect testosterone levels. For example, when giving testosterone transdermally it is critical to use testing methods such as dried blood spot or saliva to properly assess absorption of testosterone into the body, avoiding the problem of overdosing to achieve “normal” serum levels.

But while a decline in testosterone is a struggle that older men are coming to expect, what about the alarming suggestion that low testosterone is now becoming more prevalent in younger men? An article published last year has brought some attention to a link between poor health and low testosterone levels in younger men. Let’s take a closer look at this article to see who might be at risk.

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Getting to the Heart of Estrogen

Getting to the Heart of Estrogen with Dr. Sherry LaBeck with ZRT LaboratoryThe American Heart Association has designated the month of February as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and the healthy choices we can make to prevent it. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. And while some risk factors are out of our control, such as family history, genetics, and aging, most of the risk factors for developing heart or cardiovascular disease are more often than not within our control. For example, lifestyle habits and behaviors such as smoking cessation, physical activity, healthy food selection, and how we cope with mental and emotional stressors, like feeling angry, can be modified [1].

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women and the risk dramatically increases with menopause. Although there are many factors involved in the development of CVD, there is speculation that the hormonal shifts experienced during the transition into menopause may play a part. Estrogen is one of the key transitional hormones during this changeover and its low levels during menopause are strongly associated with increasing cardiovascular risk. For its role in several aspects of cardiovascular disease prevention, estradiol has been the subject of various investigations through the years.

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