How To Test Your Vitamin And Mineral Levels
Most vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be picked up with a blood test, like:
- a venous blood test a trained professional will use a needle to puncture a vein, usually in your arm, to collect a blood sample.
- a finger-prick blood test using a lancet, you can prick your own finger and collect a small blood sample.
How To Keep Your Vitamin B12 Levels Healthy
If you do discover you have a vitamin B12 deficiency or low amounts in your body, you should always seek the advice of your GP, who can help you get to the root of the cause and advise treatment.
Vitamin B12 supplements are widely available if you worry that your diet or other lifestyle factors may eventually lead to depleted vitamin B12 levels.
Most multivitamins contain vitamin B12 too, and it doesnt hurt to pre-empt any potential vitamin B12 issues by supplementing, especially if you dont eat many B12-rich foods.
You can also easily increase the B12 in your body by eating some or all of the following:
- Some fortified breakfast cereals
- Some fortified nutritional yeast
Click here for more advice on vitamin B12, what it does, and how to keep your levels up.
Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency
Signs you may be missing key vitamins and minerals, and how to reverse deficiencies
Everyone knows that we need vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies healthy. But how do you know when you aren’t meeting your body’s needs?
“There are many telltale signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies,” says Patricia Graham, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center. “But the good news is that often, if you take steps to address the deficiency, the symptoms will either improve or go away altogether.”
Here, Graham walks through six red-flag scenarios, and how you might reverse any deficiencies found.
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Best Labs To Check Magnesium Levels
Red blood cell magnesium This is the best way to measure magnesium levels. In the very rare instance that your doctor orders a magnesium level for you, it will most likely be serum magnesium. This test is practically useless in determining magnesium deficiency unless it is significantly deficient. This is because the body will borrow magnesium stores from other areas of the body, such as the bones and muscles, to maintain a normal serum level.
We believe optimal levels of RBC magnesium are between 50-70 mcg/g or 5-7 mg/dL, depending on the labs reference range.
How Much To Take
Using the data from our study, GrassrootsHealth has developed an online vitamin D calculator to help you determine how much vitamin D intake may be needed to go from a baseline vitamin D level to a target vitamin D level. Simply input your weight with your current vitamin D test result, current supplemental intake, and your target vitamin D level, and it will calculate the estimated total Vitamin D intake needed to reach your target vitamin D level. Two values will be given one that has been shown effective for the average participant, and one that has been shown to be effective for 90% of the GrassrootsHealth population.
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Vitamin D As Its Cofactors
Vitamin D needs the help of other nutrients to be able to do its work. Take a look at this chartit illustrates what nutrients are needed to support the immune system and kill a pathogen .
As you can tell, its not just vitamin D but many other cofactors are critical to keep our immune system strong and responsive. They include vitamins A, C, EE, B6, B12, folate as well as minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium.
What Happens During A Vitamin B Test
Vitamin B levels may be checked in blood or urine.
During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Vitamin B urine testing may be ordered as a 24-hour urine sample test or a random urine test.
For a 24-hour urine sample test, you’ll need to collect all urine passed in a 24-hour period. This is called a 24-hour urine sample test. Your health care provider or a laboratory professional will give a container to collect your urine and instructions on how to collect and store your samples. A 24-hour urine sample test generally includes the following steps:
- Empty your bladder in the morning and flush that urine away. Record the time.
- For the next 24 hours, save all your urine passed in the container provided.
- Store your urine container in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice.
- Return the sample container to your health provider’s office or the laboratory as instructed.
For a random urine test, your sample of urine may be collected any time of the day.
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Why Everyone Should Get Their Vitamin D Levels Checked
Just a few years ago, most doctors would not have thought to check a patients vitamin D levels unless they were suffering from rickets or a rare disease.
However, thanks to modern science we now know vitamin D is crucial to nearly every single function in the bodyfrom optimizing bone health to gene expression.
And many doctors, and us at kNew Health, now routinely run whats known as a 25-OH Vitamin D test.
Your vitamin D levels also play a lesser-known key role in chronic disease prevention and symptoms such as:
The above listed conditions only represent a small sampling of how vitamin D impacts our health, and new research is pouring in fast.
Bottom line: if your vitamin D levels are sub-optimal, your body is working at a disadvantage that could lead to a more serious condition.
Medichecks Vitamin D Blood Test
If you would like to check your vitamin D levels at home, this at home vitamin D test kit by Medichecks could be for you!
- Measures the major circulating form of vitamin D
- An easy and affordable way to check if your vitamin D levels are normal or you are deficient
- Simple finger-prick sample method, which is sent off and checked by accredited laboratories with a doctors interpretation
- Results in 2 working days from sample receipt at lab
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How Often To Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
We recommend having your levels checked at least twice during the year, sometimes more depending on your situation.
This way we can account for change in season, changes in your health and adjust your regime accordingly.
It can take months to rebuild your vitamin D stores, but if you take the proper measures to do so, it will happen. So be patient and kind with your body and stay the course.
You always kNew fresh air and sunshine played a role in how good you felt and now you know vitamin Ds role in this beautiful symbiotic relationship between us and the sun.
Its a humbling reminder of how deeply we are connected to the natural world around us.
And now that you understand how your vitamin D levels affect your health and how to read your lab work, know we are here to help.
All kNew Health members receive a vitamin D lab workup as part of their initial assessment, along with a dedicated Health Coach to help you optimize your levels for the long-term.
Knew Health is only available in the US, excluding Vermont , Alaska, Washington. Please contact us with any questions.
Evexia provides comprehensive, cutting-edge lab services at convenient locations nationwide. Knew Health members have access to free and discounted tests, panels, and specialty kits with no prior approval needed.
Use SingleCare to save on prescriptions with our pharmacy discount card. You can also save on health care such as dental, vision and online doctor visits.
How To Avoid Hitting The Wall: Nutrition Guide For Athletes
Most athletes, especially endurance athletes, have had the experience of hitting the wall in terms of performance during a sporting event or while training. So, what does hitting the wall mean? It is a physiological reaction to long periods of strenuous exercise when the body starts rebelling against itself in one or more of several ways. Your body does not like to be pushed to its limits. Here, we will get into the details of this frustrating problem, including what happens when athletes hit the wall, what can cause it and how to avoid it.
What Is Hitting the Wall?
The term hitting the wall means a lag in performance that cannot be resolved at that moment, no matter how hard one pushes the body and mind. It is the reason that many marathon runners take an average of two minutes longer to complete the second half of a race than they do the first half. So, what happens when an athlete hits the wall? For some athletes, it is about the muscles rebelling, where the mind is still willing but, the body gives out. For others, mental exhaustion could take hold, impairing coordination and performance.
What Can Cause It?
How to Avoid Hitting the Wall
Common nutritional deficits Low intake or poor absorption of B-vitamins, which are essential to energy metabolism, can cause endurance issues, as can low levels of vitamin D, which can cause muscle weakness. Getting vitamin levels checked can detect these issues.
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How Do You Test For Vitamin Deficiency
A vitamin blood test measures the amount of a specific vitamin in your blood. Your personal level of that vitamin is then compared to a reference range that defines healthy levels of that nutrient. If your levels fall below that healthy range, vitamin deficiency is indicated.
Vitamin and nutrition blood tests can provide you with detailed information on your nutritional status, letting you know where you stand in terms of levels of vital nutrients in your system. Those details may be collected via testing with vitamin test panels, which evaluate amounts of a number of vitamins in the body, or with tests designed to evaluate levels of individual nutrients. Here are some examples of commonly requested vitamin and nutrition blood tests:
Other tests that may be done as part of a nutritional workup include Anemia Package tests, which evaluate blood cell number and health, iron levels and iron binding capacity, and tests designed to detect problems like lactose intolerance, celiac disease, or sensitivities to wheat and other grains.
Three Tests Your Doctor Should Be Ordering But Isnt
AUGUST 14, 2018 by DR. HEATHER MODAY, MD
As part of every work up with a patient, I order testing for vitamin and mineral levels. After reviewing the tests, my patients are often shocked. They often ask- Why doesnt my doctor order vitamin and mineral levels on me? I wish I had an answer to that question as I consider nutritional evaluations an inherent part of assessing someones overall health. Every biochemical process in the body requires certain nutrients to work properly. When we dont have adequate stores, that is when disease develops.
A body with suboptimal levels of vitamins and minerals is like a building constructed with poor materials: it doesnt work well and eventually will fall apart. As we age, if we accumulate deficiencies along with cellular damage, we age faster and develop disease. The conventional fix is to start a new medication which often causes more deficiencies and strain on our system. The better fix is to focus on our nutritional stores and make sure that our diet is adequate to keep up with our needs.
It is true that many conventional doctors dont bother to order these tests. Perhaps they dont believe that nutrition matters in health, or that they will be able to interpret them correctly and counsel you correctly. Or most sadly, they wont offer the testing because they feel insurance wont cover it. Most nutrition testing is at least partially covered and at most cost less than a nice pair of shoes.
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Treating Vitamin D Deficiency
For adults, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 IU . Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, herring, sardines, canned tuna, oysters, shrimp and mushrooms. Or, choose cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, oatmeal and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.
You can also get your daily dose by going out into the sunshine for 10 minutes without sunscreen .
For severe deficiencies, your doctor might prescribe a vitamin D supplement.
Unlike other vitamins and minerals, vitamin D levels are regularly tested in routine blood tests at your annual physical, so it’s easy to identify deficiencies.
What Is Nutrition Testing
Nutrients can be separated into two distinct categories:
Nutrition testing can be used to evaluate the levels of these macronutrients and micronutrients in the blood. Test results can be compared to a reference range of normal values, and help doctors diagnose nutritional deficiencies.
Nutritional testing has many uses in functional medicine, such as in assessing blood chemistry, hormone function, gut health, metabolic function, blood sugar regulation, food sensitivities and allergies, organ function and more.
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When Is It Ordered
25-hydroxyvitamin DWhen calcium is low and/or a person has symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, such as bone malformation in children and bone weakness, softness, or fracture in adults , 25-hydroxyvitamin D usually is ordered to identify a possible deficiency in vitamin D.
The test may be requested when an individual is known to be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Older adults, people who are institutionalized or homebound and/or have limited sun exposure, those who are obese, who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, and/or who have fat malabsorption are at an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Also included in this group are people with darker skin and breastfed infants.
25-hydroxyvitamin D is often requested before an individual begins drug therapy for osteoporosis.
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin DThis testing may be ordered when kidney disease or abnormalities of the enzyme that converts 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is suspected. Rarely, this test may be done when calcium is high or a person has a disease that might produce excess amounts of vitamin D, such as sarcoidosis or some forms of lymphoma .
When vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, or magnesium supplementation is necessary, vitamin D levels are sometimes measured to monitor treatment effectiveness.
Healthy Reminder: Get Your Vitamin D Blood Level Checked
My dears, we’ve been hearing so much good news about the power of vitamin D, and yet so many Americans are shockingly deficient. Take me, for instance. I recently had my D levels checked, and OMG, they were low! I’m now supplementing, but I hope you can all learn from my experience and be proactive about your health, asking your doc at your next appointment for the simple blood test to see how much you should be supplementing …
The news on D keeps getting better. It’s been linked with fighting everything from cancer to disease, and just this week we learned of a new study that found that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to autoimmune diseases like MS and certain cancers. In other words, D is crucial to your health.
I should point out that my doctor didn’t suggest that I have my D levels checked. I did. I’ve long given up the passive “I’ll wait for my doctor to suggest it” attitude toward health care. And, I’m so glad I took the reins on this one and asked for the test because the lab called to give me my results and they’re surprisingly low. I’m now taking daily supplements and trying to load up on D-rich foods .
Let’s do an informal poll here: Do you know what your vitamin D blood level is? Have you thought about having it checked? Do you supplement anyway?__
More little health tips to put into practice today:
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Do Home B12 Blood Tests Work
If you go with a reputable home blood test brand that sends out clear instructions, good kit, uses accredited laboratories to test your blood samples, and details / communicates your results clearly, then yes, they should work.
Obviously, you have to take ownership of following instructions correctly and completing your part at home, as this is key!
What About Bolus Dosing
New concepts about the way the body utilizes vitamin D beyond its well-established endocrine functions for bone health, have shed light on the importance of obtaining a daily dose of vitamin D3, versus bolus doses . Vitamin D3 is a relatively short-lived compound in the body with a half-life of less than 24 hours, making serum D3 an unreliable marker for an individuals vitamin D status. The short half-life also means that dosing intervals of a week or greater can lead to depletion of vitamin D3 in the serum altogether.
How quickly do serum levels of vitamin D3 and 25 vitamin D respond to a single high dose of vitamin D3?As illustrated in the following chart by Heaney et al., after a single dose of 100,000 IU D3, vitamin D3 increased sharply and returned to its initial low state within 2 weeks. The corresponding 25 vitamin D levels rose and fell at a much slower rate. It took approximately 1 week for the 25 D serum level to reach its max, and levels slowly declined over the next 2-3 months.
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