Total protein is a measurement of the total amount of protein found in the blood. There are two main types of protein in the serum portion of blood: albumin and globulin. Albumin is a small molecule carrier whose main purpose is to transport various substance around the body. Globulin proteins include enzymes, antibodies and over 500 other proteins.
Total protein measures the two major protein types in serum: albumin and globulin as well as all proteins present in serum except for clotting factors. When these figures are interpreted, the hydration status of the individual should be taken into consideration. Low serum protein can be masked by dehydration. When dehydration is present serum albumin and globulin will be proportionately increased.
Albumin makes up between 35 and 50% of total serum protein. Total protein on its own isn’t particularly useful, instead, the results need to be interpreted alongside other liver or kidney function tests.
A high total protein level can be caused by:
People who are well hydrated but have a high total protein level may need further investigation to identify the cause.
A low total protein level is only possible when low values of albumin and globulin occur. If there is a low protein count but a normal albumin level then you may have humoral immunodeficiency.
The value of total protein on its own is of little use, but when used in combination with other biomarkers it can help to identify some health conditions.
Nutrition is an important factor in our health and immune status. Globulins make up a large part of our immune system. If we are deficient in some nutrients, then this can make our immune system weak.
Micronutrients including zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C and E, B6 and folic acid all have important influences on our immune responses. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet incorporating all these micronutrients.
You should keep your alcohol intake within the recommended guidelines of 14 units per week. A healthy diet should consist of a high percentage of nutrient-dense carbohydrates like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, roots and legumes.
Exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. However, intense exercise can also induce immunodepression during recovery. Therefore, it is essential that you take rest periods between bouts of intense exercise to prevent illness.
Aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial for heart health. It increases your heart and breathing rate gently and leaves you feeling warmer but you shouldn’t be gasping for breath. Activities include:
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 Lab Tests Online UK. (2013). Total Protein Test. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org.uk/tests/total-protein-test
 Goldstein-Fuchs, D, J and LaPierre, A, F. (2014). 54 – Nutrition and Kidney Disease. In: National Kidney Foundation Primer on Kidney Diseases (Sixth Edition).
 Marshall, W. (2012). Total Protein (Serum, Plasma). Association for Clinical Biochemistry. Available at: http://www.acb.org.uk/nat%20lab%20med%20hbk/total%20protein.pdf
 Kafeshani, M. (2015). Diet and Immune System. Immunopathologia Persa: 1(1).
 Chandra, R, K. (1997). Nutrition and the Immune System: An Introduction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 66, pp 460S-463S.
 Peake, J, M., Neubauer, O., Walsh, N, P and Simpson, R, J. (2016). Recovery of the Immune System After Exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology: 122, pp 1077-187.
 Heart UK. (2018). Physical Activity. Available at: https://heartuk.org.uk/files/uploads/documents/huk_fs_mfsB_physicalactivity.pdf