Vitamin D Deficiency Test

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because the body naturally produces it when the skin is directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get the necessary daily amount through your diet or supplements. Vitamin D-rich foods include milk, cheese and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Certain foods such as cereals, orange juice, soy products, yogurt and margarines are sometimes fortified with vitamin D.

In the kidney, 25-hydroxy vitamin D changes into an active form of the vitamin. The active form of vitamin D helps control calcium and phosphate levels in the body.

The vitamin D deficiency test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.

What are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Some people may not have any symptoms and still be deficient.

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are sometimes vague and can include fatigue and general aches and pains.

If you have a severe vitamin D deficiency you may have pain in your bones and weakness. You may also have frequent infections.

The following symptoms have been noted:

  • muscle weakness, feeling too easily fatigued.
  • excess daytime sleepiness.
  • general aches and pains, particularly bone ache.
  • have discomfort from placing firm pressure on your breastbone or shin bone.
  • a sweaty head. Strange as it may seem, excess sweating in the head vs. the rest of the body has been associated with low Vitamin D levels.

Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to several serious diseases such as:
  • Dementia. Dementia is a decline in thinking, behavior, and memory that negatively affects daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for as many as 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Prostate cancer. A link has been noted between low blood levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer in European-American and African-American men.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Studies have found that men with severe erectile dysfunction had significantly lower vitamin D levels than men with mild dysfunction.
  • Schizophrenia. People who are vitamin D deficient are twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as compared to people with sufficient vitamin D levels according to a recent study.
  • Heart disease. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to more severe cases of heart disease.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to determine if you have too much or too little vitamin D in your blood. This vitamin deficiency test may be ordered by your Cardio-Med physician on the basis of the results of a complete physical exam or a comprehensive metabolic panel.

Normal Results

The normal range of vitamin D is measured as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Many experts recommend a level between 20 and 40 ng/mL. Others recommend a level between 30 and 50 ng/mL.

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Talk to your physician about the meaning of your specific test results, and whether you may need vitamin D supplements.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Lower-than-normal levels can be due to a vitamin D deficiency, which can result from:
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight
  • Lack of enough vitamin D in the diet
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Poor food absorption
  • Use of certain medicines, including phenytoin, phenobarbital, and rifampin

Low vitamin D levels are more common in African-American children (especially in the winter), as well as in infants who are breast-fed only. Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with the diseases listed above.

Higher-than-normal levels may be due to excess vitamin D, a condition called hypervitaminosis D.

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Adapted from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health