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Diet and Nutrition

Prealbumin levels

03/17/2004

Question:

Hi, I just got some bloodwork back that said that my prealbumin levels were on the low side of normal (17 mg/dl) - I read your question/answer on albumin. Are these the same? or prealbumin something different? Also, are low levels linked to diabetes? (I have type 1) thanks

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Pre-albumin and albumin measure the same thing (visceral protein stores), but are different in that their half life (or the body`s ability to replete the protein are different). Pre-albumin is a better indicator of nutritional status in that it has a half life of only 3 days. This means that if nutrition therapy is started, you can see an improvement in pre-albumin within a 3 day time frame. Albumin has a half life of ~18 days, so it would take almost 3 weeks to notice a change in this lab value. Low albumin and pre-albumin levels are an indicator that the body is either using protein for calories (such as in the case of a low calorie diet or starvation), OR the body is losing protein due to a medical condition (such as kidney or other disease). Persons with diabetes may lose protein due to their condition and it may show up in a urinanalysis or blood work. I suggest you ask your doctor why your pre-albumin level is low and what you can do about it. I am going to forward your question to the experts in Diabetes for their input as well.

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati