What are the Advantages of Metabolic Profiling?

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  • Written By: Summer Banks
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2019
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Metabolic profiling, often ordered by a doctor as a comprehensive metabolic panel, is a series of blood tests. These tests can be used to diagnose medical problems or verify overall health. Many metabolic panels are ordered as 14 separate tests, including kidney screenings and those that monitor proteins and electrolytes. Other tests may check liver function, glucose levels, and calcium concentrations. Metabolic profiling can also be used by diet and weight loss clinics to formulate an individualized nutrition plan.

The protein tests in a common metabolic profile may determine the albumin and total protein found in the blood. Albumin and total protein are used to test for liver disorders, kidney disease, or nutritional health. The doctor may order a protein blood test if a patient has unexpectedly lost weight or feels fatigued. These tests are also commonly included in blood screenings done as part of an annual physical examination.

Electrolyte tests often assess sodium, potassium, and chloride levels. The doctor may also choose to test carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. This blood work can be ordered for a variety of reasons, depending on patient history or current complaints. Electrolytes help to balance the acid and alkaline levels in the body. Symptoms such as swelling, weakness, and confusion can mean metabolic profiling is needed to check these key body chemicals.


Kidney and liver tests may be the most common metabolic profiling tests ordered by doctors. Some prescription medications can affect how the liver or kidneys function. When such medications are taken for an extended period of time, these tests can reveal how healthy the organs are. Such tests may also be used to diagnose kidney or liver disease not related to prescription medications.

The glucose test may be the one aspect of metabolic profiling that people are most familiar with. Glucose testing is commonly used to rule out diabetes. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is a genetic form of diabetes often diagnosed in children. Type II diabetes is considered adult onset and may be cured in some patients.

Glucose testing may also help the doctor to diagnose pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where the body is beginning to show the symptoms of diabetes, but the blood glucose levels are not consistently in the high range. Pre-diabetes is often referred to as a metabolic disorder.

Calcium testing is often used to diagnose kidney, bone or nerve diseases. This test is often included as part of the metabolic panel, but can be ordered if the calcium concentrations in the blood are in question. The calcium test can be used in conjunction with other blood tests to diagnose a health condition. These other tests can include those that check levels of vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Metabolic profiling can be used to diagnose an illness or disease, gauge overall health, or formulate a specific diet plan. When used in conjunction with a yearly physical, the metabolic panel can give a doctor a baseline to measure future tests against. Depending on the patient, the doctor may choose to include a fewer or greater number of tests.



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