What is the Bone Profile Blood Test? All You Need to Know

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
7th January 2022

In 30 seconds…

A bone profile blood test analyses the proteins, enzymes and minerals in your bones, allowing doctors to understand the health and development of your bone structure. With a bone profile blood test, doctors can test to see how at risk you are to bone diseases and cancers.

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Blood Tests and Bone Health

Your blood is pretty magical stuff. Responsible for carrying oxygen, vitamins, energy, and electrolytes around your body, it comes into contact with all of the organs and tissues inside you. That’s what makes it so valuable to doctors and healthcare professionals. Take a little look at some blood and you can see what’s going on in all of the different parts of your body.

That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that a blood test to see your bone health is an option. And an important one at that. Ultimately, your skeleton is what holds you up, so you need it to be in good health. A blood test analysing your bones is the best way to see if it is or not.

So, what is the bone profile blood test, exactly? Let’s explore in more detail. 

What is the Bone Profile Blood Test?

The bone profile test measures and analyses the enzymes, proteins, and minerals that are present in your bones. It is a crucial test for monitoring the health of your bones – and for ensuring that they are developing and repairing themselves properly.

What is the bone profile used for? Well, as we said, healthy bones are crucial for movement, posture, and overall wellbeing – and, as you age, they naturally weaken. As a result, the older men among us should consider taking the test.  

Alongside overall health, the bone profile is used in the analysis and monitoring of some particular conditions. These include:

  • Osteoporosis. Affecting about 3 million people in the UK, this condition makes bones fragile and brittle and more likely to break. As you age, you lose bone density, but it can also be lost due to eating disorders, heavy drinking, or hormone problems.
  • Paget’s disease of bone. Another common bone disease, Paget’s disease of bone affects bone turnover or renewal – i.e. the way in which bone tissue replaces itself. If your doctor suspects you have this, you’ll probably also need a vitamin D test.
  • Bone cancer. A very rare form of cancer, it is characterised by bone pain, lumps, and swelling. You may also find that bones break much more easily.
  • Thyroid problems and liver disease. In some cases, a bone profile can be used to diagnose problems with the thyroid and the parathyroid, which plays an important role in maintaining the balance of calcium levels and phosphorus. It can also suggest problems with the liver too, where many enzymes and proteins are produced.

What Does the Bone Profile Test For? And What are Normal Test Results?

The bone profile blood test may be used to monitor a range of different bone conditions – as well as diseases that don’t directly relate to your bones at all. However, if you’re taking the test yourself, you might also be interested to hear the precise minerals for which the bone profile tests.

There are four main minerals that the blood profile measures. These are here, along with the reference ranges for each.  

  • Calcium. Primarily, the bone profile measures the calcium in your blood. This is one of the most important minerals that aids in your bone health. According to the NHS, your normal levels of calcium are 2.2-2.6 mmol/L.
  • Albumin. This one is a protein created in the liver. However, low albumin levels are associated with lower bone density, so this test can be used to identify osteoporosis. Its normal range is 35-50 g/L, says the NHS.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). This is an enzyme, found in bone and liver cells, that is used to detect bone disorders or liver diseases. Reference ranges for the enzyme are 30-130 u/L in adults.
  • Phosphate. Phosphates are chemicals that contain phosphorus, a mineral that is crucial for bone growth. It should be between 0.74 and 1.4 mmol/L.

Finally, a bone profile may test for urea, total proteins, and globulin too.

What Do I Need to Know about Taking the Test?

As you will probably know, during a blood test, your doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional will extract a sample of your blood. That blood will be put in a vial and sent off to a lab for analysis. And, from there, it can take from a minimum of 4 to an average of 72 hours before you get your results.

However, what should you know before taking the test? Unlike many blood tests, you do not need to fast before the bone profile blood test. You can go to the surgery without having changed your lifestyle at all – apart from one thing. If you take calcium supplements without your doctor’s advice, it’s best to keep off them before the test.

Generally, it is best if your doctor knows all the supplements you are taking – including vitamin D supplements, calcium, or any other vitamins or minerals, as these can affect your test results.  

Key Takeaways

So, what is the bone profile blood test? It is a test that helps you identify your risk of bone disorders, liver problems, and hormonal imbalances. 

Looking at the minerals and proteins in your blood – particular calcium, phosphates, albumin, and alkaline phosphatase – can help to build a really clear picture of your bone health. So, if you feel like you may have osteoporosis or a similar condition, go ahead and book a test.

FAQs

How is a bone profile blood test administered?

Like all blood tests, your doctor will administer a bone profile blood test by taking a small sample of your blood with a needle and syringe, before sending this sample off to a laboratory for testing. Unlike other blood tests, however, you do not need to fast before taking a bone profile blood test.

Why would I need to take a bone profile blood test?

Blood is incredibly important, transporting minerals, vitamins, oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in your body. It also runs through your bones, and so can be tested in order to determine the health of your skeleton. Since your skeleton is what holds you up, it’s important to be aware of its health, which is where a bone profile blood test comes in. Only with a bone profile blood test is it possible to detect a person’s risk of bone disease and/or cancer.

What conditions can a bone profile blood test detect?

A bone profile blood test can check for conditions and diseases such as osteoporosis (which affects about 3 million people in the UK alone), Paget’s disease of bone, bone cancer, and even problems with your thyroid and liver.

When should I take a bone profile blood test?

You’ll probably only ever have to take a bone profile blood test if your doctor recommends it in order to test for a suspected condition or disease, or as part of a comprehensive general check-up.

References

  1. AgeUK- Osteoporosis- https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/osteoporosis/

  2. NHS – Hypoparathyroidism – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypoparathyroidism/

  3. A V LundeE Barrett-ConnorD J Morton (1998). Serum albumin and bone mineral density in healthy older men and women: the Rancho Bernardo Study – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10326059/

  4. South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Albumin: https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/services/pathology/tests/albumin/

  5. Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) – https://www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/services-we-offer/pathology/tests-and-investigations/alkaline-phosphatase/

  6. South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Phosphate (& Urine): https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/services/pathology/tests/phosphate/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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