What Is Albumin?
Many glands and organs in the human body secrete essential substances, such as proteins, enzymes, hormones, and many others, for the proper functioning of the entire organism on a daily basis. One of the essential proteins in the human body is albumin, which makes up more than half of the total protein within the bloodstream. The main roles of this protein are to ensure that enough fluids stay within your blood, rather than leaking to surrounding tissues, and to carry vitamins and enzymes, as well as hormones, through the blood.
The liver is the organ that is responsible for producing the protein albumin. Albumin can also be found in the blood and it has the role of binding the blood constituents. Thus, the blood fluids cannot become separated and leak into the tissues. Therefore, when there is an albumin deficiency, the blood fluids tend to disintegrate and build up in different parts of the body. When it happens, edema — or fluid build-up — occurs in affected patients.
Normal levels of albumin in blood
The level of albumin can easily be measured by performing a blood test, since this protein is present in the blood. If the level of albumin is within a normal or healthy range, it means that the liver is healthy and functions properly. Healthy levels of albumin in the blood are above 4.0 grams per deciliter, and more specifically, the expected healthy levels of albumin in blood are within the range from 4.0 to 5.4 grams per deciliter.
Normal levels of albumin in urine
Since the kidneys have the role of filtering the blood and ejecting the waste material they process in the form of urine, sometimes it happens that the urine contains albumin as well. It is not normal that urine contains this protein since its molecules are too large to pass the kidneys' filters, and are usually reabsorbed in the blood again. The normal level of albumin in urine is considered to range between 0 and 8 milligrams per deciliter. When a urine test shows readings that are not within the normal range, it means that some kidney problem is present in the patient.
High and low albumin levels: What do they point to?
High albumin levels do not usually have a serious cause; dehydration is one of the main causes of elevated albumin levels. This may happen because of excessive alcohol consumption, not drinking enough fluids, or due to extremely hot temperatures or excessive exercise. Diarrhea (which may itself result from an underlying digestive tract condition) is another common cause of dehydration, and therewith potentially high albumin levels.
The main causes of low albumin levels are certain medical conditions, such as lupus, arthritis, shock, celiac disease and malnutrition. A lack of protein in the diet, specifically, depletes albumin levels. Furthermore, the level of albumin may be low due to underlying kidney or liver diseases. It is also considered that certain drugs, such as androgens, anabolic steroids, insulin and growth hormone may lead to the occurrence of low albumin levels.