Understanding Your Lab Results: All About Vitamin D
If you keep up on health news and trends, youve likely heard a lot about vitamin D and its role in bone health and supporting immunity. Youve probably also heard vitamin D deficiency is rampant in modern society.
And if you see a doctor who is up on these trends, youve likely had your vitamin D levels testing at your annual checkup.
What most people dont realize is vitamin D is crucial to not only bone and immune health, but to nearly every single bodily function and the prevention of chronic disease.
Plus, what may appear as normal on your lab panel does not necessarily equate to optimal when it comes to promoting health and longevity and preventing chronic disease.
At kNew Health we believe you have the right to fully understand your lab tests, including how to read the results, what they mean and how to optimize your lab markers to prevent disease and promote excellent health.
Which is why were kicking off our: Understanding Your Lab Results series with vitamin D.
In todays article, well teach you everything you need to know about vitamin D blood tests including:
- The role vitamin D plays throughout all your bodily systems
- The root causes of deficiency
- Optimal/functional lab marker ranges
- What you can do to optimize your vitamin D levels
- And how often to get your levels checked
How To Time Your Vitamin D Testing With Changes In Supplementation
Participants often ask about details on how and when to change their vitamin D supplementation based on their vitamin D test results. How much vitamin D should I take with a level of XX?, When should I test again to see if my new intake has increased my level enough?, and Should I wait to test until after I have changed my supplement intake? are questions we frequently receive.
How Can You Test For Vitamin D Deficiency
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Can You Test Your Vitamin D Levels At Home
Thanks to modern technology, going to the GP isnt your only option if you want to test your vitamin D levels, you can now do a vitamin D test at home. Well explain the benefits of both options below. Home vitamin D diagnostic kit vs a blood test from your Doctor.
Its only natural at this point to ask why you would want to test your vitamin D levels at home when you can go and get one free from your GP?
What Is Being Tested
Vitamin D is a family of compounds that is essential for the proper growth and formation of teeth and bones. This test measures the level of vitamin D in the blood.
Two forms of vitamin D can be measured in the blood, 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the major form found in the blood and is the relatively inactive precursor to the active hormone, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Because of its long half-life and higher concentration, 25-hydroxyvitamin D is commonly measured to assess and monitor vitamin D status in individuals.
Vitamin D comes from two sources: endogenous, which is produced in the skin on exposure to sunlight, and exogenous, which is ingested in foods and supplements. The chemical structures of the types of vitamin D are slightly different, and they are named vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 . The D2 form is found in fortified foods and in most vitamin preparations and supplements. Vitamin D3 is the form produced in the body and is also used in some supplements. Vitamin D2 and D3 are equally effective when they are converted by the liver and the kidney into the active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Some tests do not distinguish D2 and D3 forms of the vitamin and report only the total result. Newer methods, however, may report levels of both D2 and D3 and then add them together for a total level.
Where To Get More Vitamin D:
- The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. You should expose your face, hands and arms to the sun, three or more times a week, for 10-20 minutes, depending on your skin, the season, and the distance from the Equator. The best time of day for this is between 10am-2pm. Most importantly, this exposure to the sun should be without sunscreen, as sunscreen interferes with the production of Vitamin D.
- In addition, you can supplement. Most health experts recommend getting between 2000IU and 5000IU a day depending on the severity of the deficiency. Some other practitioners recommend a much higher dose a day in order to actually move your levels to where they need to be.
- My recommendation is to work with a skilled practitioner who can retest you three months after you begin supplementing. You may also want to follow the Vitamin D Councils recommendation: If you are deficient, then they recommend 1000IU per 25lbs of body weight daily. If you weigh 125lbs, youll take 5000IU a day.
- Make sure if you buy supplements that they contain vitamin D3 and not D2 which actually does not raise blood levels of vitamin D. In addition, vitamin K2 is needed to prevent vitamin D toxicity, so your supplement should contain K2 or you should eat fermented foods that are rich in K2. Think sauerkraut.
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What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by specific medical conditions, such as:
- Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease: These diseases do not allow the intestines to absorb enough vitamin D through supplements.
- Weight loss surgeries. Weight loss surgeries that reduce the size of the stomach and/or bypasses part of the small intestines make it very difficult to consume sufficient quantities of certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These individuals need to be carefully monitored by their doctors and need to continue to take vitamin D and other supplements throughout their lives.
- Obesity: A body mass index greater than 30 is associated with lower vitamin D levels. Fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so that it is not released. Vitamin D deficiency is more likely in obese people. Obesity often makes it necessary to take larger doses of vitamin D supplements in order to reach and maintain normal D levels.
- Kidney and liver diseases: These diseases reduce the amount of an enzyme needed to change vitamin D to a form that is used in the body. Lack of this enzyme leads to an inadequate level of active vitamin D in the body.
How To Sensibly And Safely Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
If your lab work reveals sub-optimal vitamin D levels, the next step is to make a plan to replenish and rebuild your stores.
Its never too late to do this! And, as you saw in the section above, the preventative health benefits are second-to-none.
The best way to optimize your levels safely is to get enough sun exposure for your skin type, location, etc. And youll need to work with your Health Coach or practitioner to determine this and exercise good common sense .
The next-best way to optimize your levels is through appropriate supplementation.
Bear in mind, you dont want to take the wrong form of vitamin D.
Vitamin D3, preferably with K2, is the active form of vitamin D and thus the safest and most effective form of supplementation available.
Your Health Coach or practitioner can work with you to recommend a reputable brand and dosage based on your lab markers and goals.
As a complement to safe sun exposure and supplementation, its a good idea to include some vitamin-D-rich foods in your diet such as: wild salmon, sardines, grass fed beef, dairy , mushrooms and eggs.
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How Much Vitamin D Should I Take
The American Society of Endocrinology, for example, recommends taking 1,500 to 2,000 international units per day to bring vitamin D levels above the 30 ng/ml level. If you have confirmed a vitamin D deficiency, taking a higher dose should help you restore optimal vitamin D levels.There are also high-dose supplements that are meant to be taken once a week. Since vitamin D is stored in the body, it makes no difference whether you take 1,000 international units every day for seven days or 7,000 international units once a week.
If you take drops, you can also regulate your intake like this yourself. As a rule, one drop corresponds to 1,000 international units. There are also very high-dose supplements on the market containing up to 20,000 international units of vitamin D, which would supply you with vitamin D for several weeks.
What Does It Take You To Get Your D To 40 Ng/ml
Did you know your health could be greatly affected by making sure you have a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/ml ? Help us help you.
STEP 1 – Do you know what your vitamin D level is? If not, be sure to test today to find out.
STEP 2 Determine your target level. Are you at your target level? Experts recommend a level of at least 40-60 ng/ml .
STEP 3 Need to boost your level? Use the D*calculator to see how much vitamin D it may take to reach your target. Opt for the Loading Dose for a quicker boost.
STEP 4 Optimize how your body absorbs and utilizes vitamin D with co-nutrients and these simple steps.
STEP 5 Re-Test! This is an important step to make sure you have reached your target level, and to ensure you are not taking too much! Re-testing after 3-4 months is recommended.
STEP 6 Adjust, Repeat
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Why do we need vitamin D? Without consuming vitamin D through nutritional supplements, it is difficult to truly optimize your vitamin D levels all year round especially when sunshine is sparse. This has been confirmed after cerascreen® analyzed more than 22,000 of its vitamin D test results.
Did you know that six percent of people in the United States are severely vitamin D deficient? And with people spending more and more time indoors during winter and during the pandemic, its no wonder that many people these days want to proactively take their health into their own hands by turning to and reaping the benefits of vitamin D supplements.
Taking vitamin D through supplements has proven beneficial according to the results of cerascreen®s vitamin D tests, which were carried out between September 2020 and August 2021. They reveal that people who do not take supplements do not succeed in reaching recommended vitamin D levels naturally. In the long run, this can lead to vitamin D deficiency.Find out more about the results of our survey and why we need vitamin D to stay healthy particularly during a pandemic. Explore the benefits of vitamin D supplements and whether they are safe to gain science-backed insights into how much vitamin D you should take and when to take vitamin D.
When To Get Tested
When you have an abnormal calcium, phosphorus, and/or parathyroid hormone level when you have evidence of bone disease or bone weakness when you are at high risk of deficiency or a healthcare practitioner suspects that you might have a vitamin D deficiency prior to starting drug treatment for osteoporosis periodically to monitor treatment of vitamin D deficiency
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How Often Do You Need To Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
Doctors do not usually order routine checks of vitamin D levels, but they might need to check your levels if you have certain medical conditions or risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes vitamin D levels can be checked as a cause of symptoms such as long-lasting body aches, a history of falls or bone fractures without significant trauma.
Change In Vitamin D3 Levels
When attempting to adjust your vitamin D level through a change in vitamin D supplementation, the time to wait between the initial test and the re-test is another important factor to consider. If testing is done too soon after the change in supplementation, it could reflect a serum level that is still in flux , giving a false reading of how an individual is actually responding to that new dose.
As we consider how to change our vitamin D levels, it is useful to know first how the concentration of vitamin D3 , changes. Vitamin D3 is converted in the body to 25 vitamin D, the form of vitamin D that is measured with your GrassrootsHealth vitamin D test, and has a much shorter half-life than 25 vitamin D meaning it gets used up much more quickly .
In an analysis by Heaney et al., the following chart shows that in response to daily supplementation , serum vitamin D3 increased rapidly during the first week, then declined and plateaued around 3 weeks, with continued variation until about day 60 .
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The Root Causes Of Low Vitamin D/vitamin D Deficiency
Thanks to our modern indoor-based lifestyles, most of us arent getting enough natural sunlightthe #1 best source of vitamin D.
This issue is compounded by a fear of skin cancer. Which means when we are outside enjoying the sun were unlikely to be absorbing its life-giving vitamin D through our SPF 50 sunblock.
Now dont get us wrong, it is essential to protect your skin from burning or over-exposure to the sun. However, nearly everyone can benefit from a reasonable amount of unprotected sunshine daily.
How much do you need to prevent low vitamin D or vitamin D deficiency?
That depends on your skin tone, geographical location and medical history. So check with your healthcare practitioner and/or do some research to determine what is appropriate for you.
Beyond lack of sun exposure, the following factors can impact your vitamin D levels:
- Geographical location makes a difference as most of us who live above Atlanta dont get any vitamin D via the sun in the winter. Many experts believe this is a big causal factor behind the immune-dips most of us experience in the colder months
- Body mass index counts. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, the more body fat you have, the less vitamin D your body can access and use. This is a lesser-known cause of vitamin D deficiency
How Often Should I Test My Vitamin D Levels
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, testing your levels after beginning treatment may help you and your healthcare professional determine if the plan is working or if it should be adjusted.
Otherwise, if your vitamin D levels typically fall within the recommended range, testing them twice a year in the spring and again in the fall can alert you to any changes and help ensure they continue to stay within a healthy range.
There isnt much research available on the benefits of screening for vitamin D deficiency, so its best to speak with your healthcare professional first before trying an at-home test.
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What Other Factors Can Lead To Vitamin D Deficiency
- Age: The skin’s ability to make vitamin D lessens with age.
- Mobility: People who are homebound or are rarely outside are not able to use sun exposure as a source of vitamin D.
- Skin color: Dark-colored skin is less able to make vitamin D than fair-colored skin.
- Human breast milk: A woman’s breast milk only contains a small amount of vitamin D. Often infant formulas also only include a small amount of D also. Therefore infants are at risk of not receiving enough vitamin D. This is especially true for infants who are only fed breast milk.
Recommended Ranges And Dosages Of Vitamin D
If you go by the ranges found in labs or given by traditional doctors, healthy blood levels of vitamin D are from 30 to 100 ng/ml. If you are below 10, pretty much everyone agrees that you are severely deficient, and if you are below 30, the Endocrine Society and the Vitamin D Council still maintain that you are not getting enough.
Functional medicines recommended range for healthy people is 60 to 80 ng/ml, especially so for people with a family or personal health history of cancers and autoimmune conditions.
If your levels are below 60 ng/ml, functionally trained doctors recommend a dose of vitamin D3 in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 UI per day. It may take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. You can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day. You can easily get a blood test done to confirm it.
For people with Hashimotos Disease , its very very important for your vitamin D levels to be in the upper ranges of 60.
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