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Albumin is produced by the liver and makes up more than half of proteins in the blood. Albumin levels reflect the amount of water in the bloodstream and they depend mainly on proper liver function, the quality of your diet and gastrointestinal absorption, and proper kidney function to prevent albumin from leaking into the urine.

A low albumin level (hypoalbuminemia) suggests severe liver disease (such as cirrhosis), chronic malnutrition or a gastrointestinal disorder such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease (which prevents absorption of the amino acids needed to synthesize all the proteins). Hypoalbuminemia can also be caused by a loss of proteins through the kidneys (nephrotic syndrome). The urine microalbumin test detects the onset of the problem, particularly in patients with diabetes. Certain conditions such as chronic diseases, cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism or surgical procedures may be accompanied by hypoalbuminemia. Too much water in the bloodstream (heart failure, sodium imbalance, etc.) can also cause hypoalbuminemia.

High levels of albumin in the blood (hyperalbuminemia) are rarely seen and are always the result of dehydration (not enough water in the blood).

Term of the Week

Predictive medicine

Medicine that links medical knowledge with data to predict a patient’s potential health problems. Examples include artificial intelligence and genetics.