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What is Serum Uric Acid?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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Serum uric acid is a measurement of how much uric acid is present in the blood. This is usually assessed during routine bloodwork, where a number of values for various compounds in the blood are determined to shed light on a patient's medical condition. A test for serum uric acid can also be specifically requested if a clinician has reason to believe that the values will be abnormal or wishes to monitor a patient's response to treatment for abnormal uric acid levels.

This compound is produced as a byproduct of breaking down compounds known as purines. Purines are found in animal products like beef, seafood, and liver and they are a common part of the diet. In healthy individuals, most uric acid produced by the metabolism of foods is expressed in the urine via the kidneys. Some people, however, have very low levels, a condition known as hypouricemia. Others have high levels and hyperuricemia.

The typical level of serum uric acid found in the blood ranges from three milligrams per decaliter to seven milligrams per decaliter. Genetics can play a role in how much uric acid a person produces and how quickly it is expressed from the body. It also fluctuates in response to what people are eating and can vary as people take medications. When a blood test is performed specifically to test serum uric acid, patients may be asked to schedule their meals at specific times to avoid throwing the values off and patients will also be asked about certain medications, including over-the-counter products, just in case a patient is taking something that might disrupt the values.

In a serum uric acid test, a small sample of blood is taken by a technician. The blood is sent to a laboratory for breakdown and analysis. When the technician writes up the results, normal values are typically provided for reference. The technician may flag any unusual values for the benefit of the clinician or may submit the results without comment.

High serum uric acid is linked with metabolic syndrome, gout, kidney damage, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and the formation of uric acid stones. People with low levels may be experiencing oxidative stress. If abnormal values are identified, a doctor can take steps to determine why. The patient may be given dietary recommendations to change the level of serum uric acid, such as eating fewer foods that contain purines, in order to avoid problems associated with abnormal levels.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By SailorJerry — On Dec 04, 2011

@dfoster85 - Is your father by chance a big meat eater? Loves his steak and potatoes? We went through this with my grandfather. Meat, seafood, and alcohol are the big three foods that can raise your uric acid levels.

The ideal uric acid diet substitutes plant proteins for meat. I've seen that people with gout should limit themselves to 4 to 6 ounces a day, which is likely a much, much smaller portion than your dad is used to.

It's good that your dad is not a big drinker, but if he's even having a couple beers a day, that could be a factor. Beer is particularly linked with gout attacks. Less alcohol, more water is always a good idea. So is adding low-fat dairy to your diet.

What we had some limited success with with my grandfather (stubborn guy) was mixing meat and beans together. So for instance, we'd make enchiladas that instead of having a pound of beef, had half a pound plus a can of refried beans. Less meat - not no meat - plus more veggies. Good luck helping your dad!

By dfoster85 — On Dec 04, 2011

I've always associated gout with the Edwardian lifestyle: too much rich food, with lots of fats and sweets (full English breakfast, puddings for dessert) and especially too much alcohol (when the port flows freely after dinner).

I was kind of surprised that people still get it! Now my father has been diagnosed even though he is not a big drinker, though he does love to eat. What are other changes in diet that decrease uric acid? I'd like to cook him a healthy meal once in a while to show him some alternative ways to eat.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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