Biohacking Fertility 1: Vitamin D + hs-CRP At-Home Tests – Worth a Try?
Last updated July 27, 2021
Welcome to the Biohacking Fertility series, in which I'll share my personal experience with a myriad of at-home tests I've used to optimize my health from the cellular level.
I’ve always been fascinated by how things work. I could sit at an airport for hours, watching the operations that make everything go both efficiently and inefficiently.
While I was training for the Ironman, I turned that inquisitiveness on my body to understand how I could become more efficient at the cellular level. This was just before I froze my eggs, and if I was going to go through the expense of freezing my eggs, I wanted them to be in the best shape possible.
Biohacking is a term first popularized by the founder of Bulletproof Coffee, Dave Aspray. It’s about using science and technology to make our body function efficiently. Aspray defines Biohacking as “the Art and Science of changing the environment around us and within us so we have full control of own health.” In order for me to understand what I need to change both internally and externally to ensure I’m operating at an optimal level, I test my body systems on a regular basis.
As the CEO of Ovaterra, I often get asked about my own journey. As a biohacker, I feel like I’ve tried a majority of the tests on the market and many of you have asked me about my experience. Over the next few weeks, I’ll gather my notes from my experience and share them with you in case they are helpful on your journey. As always, though, it’s best to work directly with your physician on your individual journey.
In this first installment, I'll review a Vitamin D & Inflammation Test from a major home test provider ($99.00).
This Vitamin D & Inflammation Test measures your Vitamin D levels (25-OH D) and your hs-CRP, or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein.
The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is widely accepted as the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.
Hs-CRP is released from the liver into your bloodstream when your body experiences inflammation. The “high-sensitivity” part indicates that the test is sensitive enough to detect even very low levels of inflammation.
Why I Took the Test
Vitamin D and inflammation levels both play an important role before, during and after pregnancy.
According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, some studies report that an estimated 70% of individuals in the United States may be considered vitamin D deficient. We need 20 minutes in the sun each day with 40% of our body exposed to get the optimal level.
Inflammation is a key indicator of the stress your body and systems may be under at the cellular level.
Role in Reproductive Health
Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in thousands of critical processes in your body, including in your reproductive system. Vitamin D can influence the expression of more than 1,000 genes in our body. Studies have shown that healthy vitamin D levels may help support uterine receptivity, implantation and ovulation. Normal vitamin D levels have been associated with reduced pregnancy complications including lower risks of pre-eclampsia and adverse respiratory outcomes.
Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s response to infection, chronic stress or obesity. In pregnant women, it is believed that heightened inflammation increases the risk of mental illness or brain development problems in children.
Chronic low-grade inflammation in pregnancy is suspected to be potentially harmful for the developing fetus and may initiate a trajectory towards immune diseases such as asthma and allergy in childhood. Other studies have shown that systemic low-grade inflammation in pregnant women may influence the child’s risk of such inflammation. Inflammation levels have also been shown to have an impact on neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and ADHD.
How the Test Works
What I Learned
My hs-CRP was elevated. I took this test in May of 2020, just in the midst of the pandemic, so this is not surprising. Since then, I’ve ordered another test for comparison and I’m waiting on the new results.
My Vitamin D levels were 48, which is in the adequate range of 20 to 80, although most reproductive and functional medicine doctors will want you at the higher end of that range.
What I Changed Based on the Results
I have been focused on committing to 7 hours of sleep per night and disconnecting from work to de-stress. I’ve ordered a new hs-CRP test to see if this is making a difference on my inflammation levels.
Although I was in the adequate vitamin D range, because I have a few genetics SNPS (or genetic variations) that impact Vitamin D absorption, I continue to supplement with liquid vitamin D drops on a daily basis.
Overall – Worth iIt?
Knowing your vitamin D levels are important for understanding how prepared your body is for conception and pregnancy at the cellular level.
Overall, my experience with these tests was easy and straightforward. However, after I got my results, I didn't see a clear path to keep engaging with - and learning from - the testing company.
For a biohacker, the general recommendations I received - to eat better, get more sleep, and de-stress - were underwhelming, too general and not anything I hadn’t heard before. I could have used more encouragement to re-test for comparison and to see trends. Other home-testing companies do a much better job with this step.
If you are looking for a quick, one-stop, easy test to check your baseline, a home test is a great option. If you are looking for more overall long-term trends throughout your journey and personalization, there are better options out there, which I’ll discuss in a future post.
Please reach out via LiveChat if you have any questions! We are with you.
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