Article at a Glance
- Your twenties mark a vital stage in the development of your brain and body, and tracking biomarkers can help lay down the foundations for a healthy future.
- Vitamin deficiencies are more common in people in their twenties, and tracking and responding to micronutrient changes should be a priority.
- Basal metabolic rate starts to slow down as you age, but this can be mitigated with careful monitoring.
Your twenties are an active time for biological development. Everything from your bones to your brain is making some of the last changes before mid-life arrives and you are truly in your prime [R]. This is the best time to start focusing on your longevity [R].
Here’s where to start.
1. Establishing a Baseline
As you start tracking your biomarkers in your twenties, one of the most important factors to consider is establishing a baseline to compare against over the coming years and decades.
This should include a comprehensive screening of vital organs and comprehensive micronutrient panel, as well as establishing baseline data on sleep cycles and sleep quality, weight, body fat percentage.
Once these baselines have been established, you can track these other biomarkers more frequently, and compare any increases or decreases to this original data.
2. Human Growth Hormone
The muscle mass decline that is experienced as the body ages can be attributed predominantly to a decrease of anabolic hormones. One of these is human growth hormone (HGH).
HGH production peaks at some time between the ages of 18 and 25. After this peak, hGH production decreases and can drop every decade after by 2 to 5% [R]. This decrease furthers the effects of an already decreasing basal metabolic rate as muscle burns calories at a faster rate than fat [R].
HGH can be tracked using a blood test every six months to determine when it starts to decrease, or if the decrease has already started. This can help to signal the time to shift to more muscle-building workouts to slow the decrease in muscle mass and basal metabolic rate.
3. Vitamin Status
Tracking nutritional will be important throughout your life, but younger adults are often more vulnerable to deficiencies in some nutrients [R]. Nutrient deficiencies can cause infertility, muscle weakness, bone growth, and various diseases [R, R, R] Therefore, it is important to track vitamin and mineral biomarkers and correct any deficiencies.
People in their twenties are particularly vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies, which may be due to lifestyle changes such as preparing food for themselves for the first time, financial difficulties, and work stress limiting their time to cook nutritious meals.
A British survey of 3,238 people reported that 20 to 29-year-olds were most likely to be deficient in potassium (24.7%), zinc (8.6%) and calcium (9.4%) [R]. The survey also revealed 19% of people in their twenties have low levels of magnesium, Vitamin A, riboflavin, calcium, folic acid, potassium, copper, and iodine) [R].
While all of these micronutrients are important, calcium is a particularly important vitamin to monitor as bone density and strength peaks during your twenties. High peak bone density at this age reduces bone disease such as osteoporosis later in life [R].
Tracking these is most accurately done by having regular blood tests. A comprehensive panel can cover hundreds of vitamins and minerals, which may be beneficial once every few years, while a more basic panel can cover the most vital components and can be done every few months.
4. Cortisol Levels
People in their twenties report that this decade is one of the most stressful and they tend to find managing stress harder than later in life [R].
Cortisol is the best biomarker to track for stress, and it can be measured in a variety of weighs, including hair tests and DUTCH testing.
A cortisol hair test provides a history of your stress levels and can indicate if you are exposing yourself to dangerous levels of stress [R]. One centimeter of hair shows the average cortisol over the last month, and more can provide up to several years of history [R].
DUTCH testing – a comprehensive hormone test using dried urine – can be used to highlight any abnormal fluctuations throughout the day [R].
The results can guide your decisions to better manage stress, which may include improved nutrition, exercise or mindfulness practice.
5. Sleep and Physical Activity
You might have noticed this one first hand, but in your late twenties, your brain finds it harder to access deep sleep [R]. Additionally, as the brain ages, it becomes more susceptible to the effects of caffeine, alcohol, stress, and other factors.
Sleep is vital for physical and mental health, and not getting enough sleep can cause serious health problems later in life. Tracking the amount of deep sleep and the number of sleep cycles each night can give insight as to sleep quality. These markers can be tracked using apps or wearable devices.
As physical activity can increase the amount of deep sleep, it can be valuable to track both your sleep and exercise to find the patterns that work best for your body [R]. Perhaps you sleep best after intense cardio in the morning, or after a long walk in the evening. Other patterns can emerge, and you may find sleep quality is related to other factors from the day
When tracking biomarkers in your twenties, your focus should be on getting into healthy habits, setting down the foundations for longevity, and using the results to guide yourself to the best future for your body.
Check out our list of clinics to find a provider near you that offers biomarker tracking to start your journey to a healthier future.
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