What Is a Prealbumin Blood Test?

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 28, 2023
2 min read

The prealbumin blood test helps your doctor determine if you’re getting enough nutrients -- namely, protein -- in your diet. It is done in your doctor’s office with the simple taking of a sample of your blood.

Prealbumin is a protein that’s made by your liver. Your body uses it to make other proteins.

If your doctor suspects you aren’t getting enough protein, they might order this test for any number of reasons:

  • If you’re elderly, they may want to know if you’re getting enough nutrients from your diet.
  • For a small child, a doctor can use this test to see if they’re malnourished.
  • If you’re planning to undergo surgery at a hospital, your doctor might order this test to see what kinds of nutritional support you’ll need during treatment.
  • Finally, your doctor might give you a prealbumin blood test if you have an eating disorder, to see just how much protein you’ve lost.

If you’re taking any medications, including over-the-counter medicines, or if you’re pregnant, you should notify your doctor before your screening. All of these things may have an effect on the test results.

First, know that a number of things can affect your results. Each lab has a different way of taking this test, so results differ from lab to lab. Talk to your doctor to find out for sure what your results mean.

In general, normal test results are as follows:

  • Adults: 15 to 36 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 150 to 306 milligrams per liter (mg/L)
  • Infants: 6 to 21 mg/dL for infants under five days old
  • Children:
  • Ages 1 to 5: 14 to 30 mg/dL
  • Ages 6 to 9: 15 to 33 mg/dL
  • Ages 10 to 13: 22 to 36 mg/dL
  • Ages 14 to 19: 22 to 45 mg/dL

Low levels could be caused by:

High levels could mean:

Whether your results are high or low, your doctor may order additional tests to help pinpoint the reason for your abnormal prealbumin levels.