When Vitamin D Testing And Treatment Is A Waste Of Time And Money
Its important to be clear that the task force is highlighting uncertainty around screening and treating asymptomatic people who dont have real signs of illness, such as broken bones, or other illnesses that can cause vitamin deficiencies, like liver disease or multiple sclerosis.
For healthy individuals, if youre tired and weak, but its nondescript, this is a really tempting thing to do: measure vitamin D and then treat, Dr. Rosen, who is based at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, warned. But there just isnt enough evidence it does anything.
So, for example, if you were feeling a little low this winter and you ask for a vitamin D test, then find out your levels are hovering around 20 or 30 ng/mL, you can go on supplements. And theres no doubt that those supplements will raise your vitamin D levels, since researchers have found they are absorbed by the body very efficiently. Doctors just dont know whether that change actually has any health benefit.
Rosen also cautioned that the biggest misconception about vitamin D is the association between low vitamin D levels and disease risk. Theres this idea, if we treat you, not only will some of your symptoms get better but also your long-term health benefit will be enhanced, he said. Again, theres no good evidence that thats the case.
Do Home Vitamin D Blood Tests Work
If you go with a reputable home blood test brand that sends out good testing kit, clear instructions, and 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 the most important bit to get right!
How Do Home Vitamin D Blood Tests Work
It depends on the brand, but generally a home vitamin D level test will work a little like this:
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What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:
- The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
- The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
- Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
- The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
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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Testing For A Vitamin D Deficiency
As you can probably imagine, your Vitamin D levels can fluctuate depending on the time of year, the food you eat or the amount of time you spend outside. Obviously, most people spend less time out of the house during the colder months. That can lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
As we explored above, low levels of this vitamin can be hazardous to your health. It can even contribute to the development of major illnesses such as cancer. For this reason, myLAB Box offers a test for Vitamin D deficiency that you can take from the comfort of home.
Is Fortifying Milk And Cereals With Vitamin D A Good Practice
Yes. The amount of vitamin D produced by the body may be insufficient, especially when there is limited exposure to sunlight and routine use of sunscreens. Since dietary vitamin D is found naturally only in a few foods, such as cod liver oil, dietary intake would not be sufficient for most people. However, in the United States, vitamin D is routinely added to milk, fortified cereals, and fruit juices to ensure adequate dietary availability. Fortification of milk and infant formula has been a real success story in the United States, drastically reducing the rate of juvenile rickets and making it a relatively rare occurrence.
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Which Foods Contain Vitamin D
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, egg yolks, red meat, liver and certain mushrooms that have been grown in sunlight or UV light all contain vitamin D.
Other foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as some breakfast cereals, yoghurt drinks and fat-based spreads.
But its hard to get enough from food alone a salmon fillet contains around 13mcg vitamin D , boiled eggs only have 1.6mcg, and a bowl of fortified cereal around 2.5mcg.
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Treatment For Vitamin D Deficiency
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D — through diet and supplements. Although there is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for optimal health — and it likely differs depending on age and health conditions — a concentration of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter is generally considered inadequate, requiring treatment.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D to 600 international units for everyone ages 1-70, and raised it to 800 IU for adults older than age 70 to optimize bone health. The safe upper limit was also raised to 4,000 IU. Doctors may prescribe more than 4,000 IU to correct a vitamin D deficiency.
If you don’t spend much time in the sun or always are careful to cover your skin , you should speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly if you have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
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What Role Is Played By Calcium Nutrition
Maintenance of normal serum calcium levels results from an array of interrelated processes, including intestinal calcium absorption, calcium uptake and release from the skeleton, and renal calcium handling. As previously noted, vitamin D plays a critical role in each of these processes. Hypovitaminosis D impairs intestinal calcium absorption and leads to secondary HPT and risk of bone loss. Heaney et al found that maximal calcium absorption in men occurs when 25D levels are in the range of 30 to 40 ng/mL, consistent with vitamin D levels needed to suppress PTH. However, even in the presence of vitamin D sufficiency, inadequate oral calcium intake may cause secondary HPT. The National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines recommend that men and women younger than 50 years ingest 1000 mg/d of elemental calcium, and those older than 50 years ingest 1200 mg/d .
Clinicians should be mindful of several important caveats when considering calcium supplementation.
First, up to 500 to 600 mg of elemental calcium can be efficiently absorbed in any single dose, with excess calcium passing unabsorbed through the gut.
What Does The Test Result Mean
Although there are differences among vitamin D methods, most laboratories utilize similar reference intervals. Because toxicity is rare, the focus has been on the lower limit and what cut-off for total 25-hydroxyvitamin D indicates deficiency.
- The Endocrine Society defines vitamin D deficiency as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level below 20 ng/mL and vitamin D insufficiency as a level between 21â29 ng/mL .
- The U.S. Institute of Medicine has concluded that a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 20 ng/mL or above is adequate for bone health, and that levels greater than 30 ng/mL do not offer significantly better effects. However, it is fair to say that the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D associated with protection from the many other disorders recently associated with a lack of vitamin D is controversial.
25-hydroxyvitamin DA low blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D may mean that a person is not getting enough exposure to sunlight or enough dietary vitamin D to meet his or her bodyâs demand or that there is a problem with its absorption from the intestines. Occasionally, drugs used to treat seizures, particularly phenytoin , can interfere with the production of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the liver.
There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of some cancers, immune diseases, and cardiovascular disease.
A high level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D usually reflects excess supplementation from vitamin pills or other nutritional supplements.
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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.
Extra Tests Lead To Extra Treatments And Costs
Getting tests that you dont need often leads to treatments you dont need, or treatments that can even be harmful. For example, if you take too much vitamin D, it can damage your kidneys and other organs.
One blood test for vitamin D does not cost much. But doctors are ordering tests more often than ever, and the vitamin D test is now the fifth most popular lab test for older adults. All of these tests add up. In 2015, Medicare spent $337 million on vitamin D tests for seniors, up from $323 million the year before.
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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.
Balances Blood Sugar Levels
Healthy levels of vitamin D help make sure were producing adequate levels of insulin, one of our blood sugar regulating hormones . Low vitamin D levels are associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, vitamin D deficiency in children seems to increase a persons risk of developing type 1 diabetes later on. One study even found that women with low vitamin D intake during pregnancy had babies with a higher risk of type 1 diabetes.
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What Is A Vitamin D Test
A vitamin D test tells you how much vitamin D is in your bloodstream. These tests can tell you if theres too much or too little vitamin D in your body.
Both the vitamin D you eat and naturally produce from sun exposure start as an inactive form. Later, the liver and kidneys convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D into the biologically active form, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D.
Most vitamin D tests measure the total amount of 25-OH D in your blood. This is because 25-OH D has a longer half-life than that of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D.
Reduce Risk Of Diabetes
Diabetes is a global health problem that affects millions of people. Scientists are always looking for ways not only to treat the condition but also to prevent the development of diabetes.
One possibility is by looking at the role that vitamin D may play in diabetes. Studies show that there are vitamin D receptors on pancreatic cells these pancreatic cells produce insulin, the hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation.
Also, vitamin D may be linked to insulin sensitivity and inflammation, both of which are affected by diabetes. Some observational studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels increase the risk of developing diabetes.
However, a nationwide survey of over 25,000 people showed that people who took vitamin D supplements did not have a lower risk of diabetes than those who took placebo pills .
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Some Perspective On What Is And Isnt Vitamin D Deficiency
I spoke with osteoporosis expert Dr. Joel Finkelstein, associate director of the Bone Density Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, whose research in this field spans over three decades. He agreed with the authors of the NEJM article that we are currently over-screening for vitamin D deficiency, and overtreating people who are getting enough vitamin D through diet and sun exposure. “Vitamin D has been hyped massively,” he states. “We do not need to be checking the vitamin D levels of most healthy individuals.”
He points out that from an evolutionary standpoint, it doesnt make sense that higher vitamin D levels would be beneficial to humans. “Vitamin D is actually quite hard to find in naturally occurring food sources,” he points out. “Yes, we can get vitamin D from the sun, but our bodies evolved to create darker skin in the parts of the world that get the most sun. If vitamin D is so critical to humans, why would we evolve in this way, to require something that is hard to come by, and then evolve in such a way as to make it harder to absorb?”
Supports Gut Bacteria In Producing Vitamin B5
We are still discovering the power of gut bacteria and what helps and what destroys them. This study showed that low levels of vitamin D changed the intestinal microbiome reducing vitamin B5 production in the gut.
If you interested in the connection between vitamin Bs and your hormones, check out this article.
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Where To Get More Vitamin D
Now that you realize how important Vitamin D can be, its time to figure out where it comes from. There are two forms of Vitamin D that are important for nutrition. These are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.
One of the primary sources of these life-giving nutrients is sunlight. Thats right, simply standing in the sun can help your body create Vitamin D. It is fat-soluble, so it is stored within the bodys fatty tissues. When youre not in direct sunlight, your body knows to release the vitamin D to keep you healthy and happy.
Beyond sunlight, there is another key area where people can build Vitamin D food! Your diet can be very important. For the best results, try eating D2 and D3 rich foods, such as fatty fish, dairy and eggs!
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Ridges In Your Nails
Our nails naturally develop slight vertical ridges as we age. However, severe and raised ridges can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin B12 or keratin can result in fingernail ridges. Hormonal changes can also cause ridges to appear.
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Is There A Home Test For Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamins and minerals are vital for energy production, blood clotting, boosting the immune system and our overall health and wellbeing. So when vitamin levels are low, it can result in a number of unfavorable signs and symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, or irregular heartbeats. Its worth noting that these symptoms may be subtle at first, and will escalate as the deficiency progresses – which is why its so important to keep an eye on your levels.
A vitamin deficiency test is typically a blood test and can be carried out by your healthcare provider. This test can check if your vitamin levels are within a healthy range and can potentially rule out any underlying health conditions or explain any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you would prefer to take a test from home, this can be done with an at-home test.
LetsGetCheckeds range of at-home Vitamin Tests can help identify key deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, or both with online results available within 5 days.
If you cant make the visit to your local doctor, you can check your vitamin levels from the comfort of your own home with an at-home vitamin deficiency lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds range of at-home Vitamin Deficiency Tests identify key deficiencies in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D or both with online results in just 5 days. Our range of at-home Micronutrient Tests can also provide insights into your diet and identify any deficiencies in other key vitamins and minerals.