The first basic question 'what is albumin' can be answered in a simple sentence: it is an essential protein found in the blood. It helps repair body tissues and maintains growth. This protein is produced in the liver. A blood test can be ordered to measure the amount of albumin in the blood. The test results help evaluate the liver function or to evaluate a person's nutritional status.
What Do Albumin Test Results Mean?
If a person shows symptoms of liver diseases such as jaundice, fatigue, weight loss, swelling around the eyes, belly or legs, a blood test can be suggested to measure albumin in the blood. Decreased concentration range reflects protein deficiencies and malnutrition. Low levels suggest liver diseases.
The presence of albumin in urine indicates that the kidneys are not capable of controlling the loss of it through urine. The kidneys are thus failing to maintain adequate concentration of it in the blood.
Low blood albumin levels are noticed in inflammation due to lupus and arthritis, shock and malnutrition. If the body is not able to absorb and digest protein properly, then low levels of this protein are noticed. In celiac disease or Crohn's disease, large volumes of protein are lost from the intestines. On the contrary, in dehydration, the levels of it increases significantly. Individuals who have prolonged diarrhea can develop abnormal albumin levels. Certain drugs also influence its levels in the blood. For instance, anabolic steroids, androgens, growth hormones, and insulin can affect the levels of albumin in the blood.
The prealbumin test measures a protein and evaluates your current nutritional status. Very small changes in urine albumin levels can be measured with the help of the microalbumin test or urine albumin test. The changes detected help find out whether you are at risk for developing kidney disease. The test also informs whether your body is capable of absorbing enough amino acids.
Normal Levels of Albumin
The normal level in healthy individuals ranges from 3.6 - 5.0 grams per deciliter (g/dL). In the blood, albumin 4.0 g/dL indicates that 1 liter of blood contains approximately 40 grams of albumin. In older denizens, especially senior citizens, the shortage in efficiency of liver indicates deficit of albumin levels. In healthy individuals, the albumin in urine is negligible. Normally, the urine of a healthy person contains 150 mg/L.
Measuring Albumin During Pregnancy
Abnormal levels of the protein in the urine during pregnancy is responsible for having premature babies. Abnormal levels indicate problems in the lining of blood vessels, and such problems during pregnancy may interrupt fetal growth and trigger a premature delivery. Studies conducted on women during pregnancy have revealed that the probability of premature delivery were high among those with high albumin levels found in the urine. To overcome albumin deficiency, good sources of protein such as beef, fish, pork, and chicken, besides eggs and milk should be included in the diet. Beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains also provide good amount of proteins.
Blood and urine tests help detect serious health hazards. The functions of albumin are worth noting. It transports many drugs, unconjugated bilirubin, thyroid and other hormones, maintains oncotic pressure, binds calcium ions, buffers pH, prevents photodegradation of folic acid, and carries fatty acids to the liver. A blood test will show the level of albumin in the blood and to confirm that all the above tasks are properly performed. With the help of a blood test, slight increase or decrease in the level of albumin can be noticed, and prompt preventive measures can be taken.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only. Please consult your physician or nutritionist if abnormal situations in this matter is encountered.