Is a Vitamin D Test Necessary?
Vitamin D tests are blood tests that check the levels of vitamin D in your blood. While vitamin D is a very important component of our physiology, it can be difficult to moderate as we only get around 10% of our vitamin D through our diet - the other 90% our bodies produce after safely exposing our skin to sunlight.
This means that in winter months and locations when there is less sunlight and less strong sun, it can be difficult for us to get enough sunlight to convert to vitamin D and we should take supplements or alter our diets to increase our vitamin D intake. To know if you need to change your diet or take vitamin D supplements, you’ll need to have a vitamin D test to check your levels. Why vitamin D is important, who should take a test and how, you’re about to find out.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Like all vitamins, vitamin D is a crucial element of a healthy body, and those who are deficient in vitamin D may suffer from various symptoms and illnesses. Vitamin D regulates the body’s levels of calcium and phosphate - two important components of healthy bones - so a lack of vitamin D in children can cause growth issues, like Rickets, and Osteomalacia in adults, characterised by weak bones and muscle pain.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is the lack of a sufficient supply of vitamin D in the blood, usually over a prolonged period. Around 1 in 6 adults in the UK have vitamin D deficiency, partially due to poor diets, and partially due to the UK’s lack of strong sunshine during autumn and winter. The UK government advises everyone in the UK over the age of 1 to take 10 μg - or micrograms - of vitamin D daily through supplements from September to March to ensure their health. Babies under 1 are recommended 5 μg daily over the same period.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is a serious condition, that largely affects bones, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.
- Fragile or painful bones
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Low mood
If you experience any of these symptoms, you can check your vitamin D levels yourself with an instant vitamin D test, or visit your doctor.
Who is More at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency?
In Britain, winter can be dreadfully dreary at times, so we’re all at risk of having insufficient vitamin D levels in these dark and cold months, which is why the UK government recommends everyone over 1 year old take vitamin D supplements from September to March. However, some groups of people are more at risk of being vitamin D deficient than others.
Moreover, people with darker skin have increased pigment in their skin which prevents the absorption of sunlight. So people with dark skin may be less likely to experience sunburn, but their bodies are also less proficient at producing vitamin D. Since most of our vitamin D is a result of sun exposure, people who are unable to spend much time outdoors or cover their skin are also more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
- Older people
- Immobile people
- People of certain religions or cultures who require conservative or modest clothing
These groups of people can benefit greatly from taking instant vitamin D tests to monitor their vitamin D levels throughout the year and ensure they maintain a healthy level. But others can also benefit from vitamin D testing.
Why Take a Vitamin D Test?
Since the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can often be mistaken for other conditions or dismissed by doctors as symptoms of a low mood, it’s important to take a vitamin D test when suffering from symptoms of deficiency to quickly highlight the problem, or dismiss the idea if it’s not the case so further tests can be taken and the cause identified.
What’s more, vitamin D deficiency can cause serious health problems, especially in babies and older people who are also more at risk of being vitamin D deficient due to spending more time indoors, particularly in hot weather. So, it’s crucial that some people who are more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency stay on top of their healthcare and take regular vitamin D tests to ensure that they have healthy levels - and increase their vitamin D intake where necessary.
At-Home Vitamin D Tests
If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, you should visit a doctor to have a vitamin D test, but that’s easier said than done. It’s very hard to obtain a doctor’s appointment in the UK, so people are starting to take their health into their own hands, and - while self-diagnosis should be avoided - there are now many helpful ways that you can stay on top of your health, without needing to wait for a doctor’s appointment.
At-home vitamin D tests are a simple way of quickly checking your vitamin D levels so you can make the appropriate lifestyle changes or start taking supplements as necessary. Just order yours online, take the finger-prick test and send your blood sample back in the post; in less than 24 hours, you’ll have your vitamin D test results back either via secure email, or available to view in the medical laboratory’s app.
If your vitamin D levels are within the normal ranges of 20 - 50 ng/mL, you have nothing to be worried about, however, if your vitamin D levels are lower than 20 ng/mL, you should consider eating more oily fish, dairy products and fortified foods, or start taking supplements. You can then continue to use instant vitamin D tests at home to monitor your vitamin D levels.
Increasing Vitamin D
If you’ve taken a test and found out you have low levels of vitamin D, there are a few ways of increasing your vitamin D levels. The best way is to absorb more sunlight in your skin, however, you should also be wary not to spend too long in the sun, especially during the middle of the day, as this can cause your skin to burn. Moderate how long you spend in the sun and make sure you protect your skin with 30 SPF sun cream.
Sun exposure is not always suitable for everyone; babies, older people and people who cover their skin for cultural or religious reasons may find it difficult to get direct sunlight to convert to vitamin D, so these groups of people, and others who are still vitamin D deficient should also ensure that their diet has a sufficient supply of vitamin D.
The following foods have a great supply of vitamin D:
- Oily fish such as salmon and sardines
- Red meat including liver
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified fruit juices
As animal products are one of the best natural supplies of vitamin D, it’s more difficult for vegetarians and vegans to obtain vitamin D through their diet, so for certain groups of people, vitamin D supplements are the easiest option for maintaining a regular supply of vitamin D during winter when there is less sun.
Instant Vitamin D Test - Official Rapid Testing
Taking control of your healthcare has never been easier, and at Official Rapid Testing, we’re proud to be helping people in Britain get their medical test results back quicker than ever! Our state-of-the-art medical laboratory management software allows us to securely process personal information and send results back swiftly and securely, while our NFC tracking chips allow us to track samples and ensure the speedy testing of each of our rapid tests.