In Parts One and Two of this mini-series on the importance of vitamin D, we have explored two major problems:
Quite a few comments and questions have been posted asking how to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized.
This is a tough question because each of you reading this will likely have different vitamin D levels to begin with. It’s therefore reasonable to expect that you all need a different strategy in order to bring your vitamin D levels to a healthy or optimum level.
This concept is explained by the three lab test results, below:
Example Vitamin D Test Results
The first result is actually my own (Dave Hompes) result from a test I did last month – August 2011. You can see that my levels are actually quite good, at 76 ng/mL.
The second result is from a client of mine – aged 49 – who is Greek-Cypriot but lives in the UK (where there is much less sun than in Cyprus!) You can see that his levels are too low at 28 ng/mL.
The third result is from a female client of mine – aged in her fifties. I used a different lab (both labs we use are excellent) for this test and you can see that her vitamin D level is almost non-existent at 5 ng/mL!
This client reported a 40% improvement in symptoms (energy, mental clarity, mood) in only 60-days simply by using sublingual a vitamin D supplement. We will shortly re-test her levels to see what progress she has made.
Wouldn’t you agree that knowing your own vitamin D levels is important? The three examples above show you that you can’t really use a standard vitamin D therapy because individual needs will vary greatly.
I will discuss options for improving vitamin D levels using supplementation in Part Four of this mini series, in a few days time.
What Should Vitamin D Your Levels Be?
Although there will always be individual variations in optimal vitamin D levels from person-to-person, here are the ranges that are provided as guidelines for clinicians and patients (we usually measure in Ng/mL):
|25 Hydroxy Vitamin D Recommended Levels in Serum|
|25-Hydroxy Vitamin D||Indication|
Although 30ng/mL is given as a cut off for Sufficient or Insufficient, as clinicians we believe that vitamin D levels should be into the 40s or 50s before we can really consider them optimal. A skilled clinician will take a thorough health history and symptom profile from a client or patient to determine subjectively how vitamin D levels may be contributing to health challenges.
Getting Yourself Tested
I personally feel that everyone should run a vitamin D test because it is such an important nutrient, it’s easy to do and research clearly shows that it can reduce risk for so many of today’s common diseases.
Your total vitamin D status can be measured using a blood sample for a compound called 25-OH-Vitamin D or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin-D.
Your doctor can run this test for you, though some doctors may be reluctant to cooperate unless your symptoms are severe enough for the testing to be warranted.
This is a problem because we know that vitamin D status is so important in “silent” disease processes such as osteoporosis and cancer, even when obvious symptoms of deficiency may not present. Also, symptoms of deficiency tend not to be attributed to nutritional deficiencies.
Vitamin D testing generally requires a full blood draw and clinic visit, which can be inconvenient and stressful. But there are ways round this.
Home Testing For Vitamin D Levels
I personally use a lab that has developed a very accurate vitamin D test using a simple finger-prick blood test that you can do at home.
You simply take a few drops of blood, drop into onto a special card, let the card dry and send it off to the lab for analysis!
(see the video)
I also use a lab that analyses for all the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and Coenzyme Q10) in a single blood sample, although this test does require a full blood draw.
Who Can Use The Finger Prick Test?
This is a very convenient and relatively inexpensive means of checking your levels and the testing is accessible to you, wherever you are in the world (we use it for our clients in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and many other countries).
Another major advantage of the test is that it is excellent for use with children who, according to the US Center for Disease Control, are at risk of vitamin D deficiency as a result of feeding on breast milk from mothers who are also deficient in vitamin D!
Guidelines on the CDC website state:
“Human milk typically contains a vitamin D concentration of 25 IU per liter or less. Therefore, a supplement of 400 IU per day of vitamin D is recommended for all breastfed infants.”
As well, misguided fears over skin damage from sun exposure often lead parents to shield young children from the sun using creams and sunblock.
As mentioned above, I will discuss vitamin D supplementation and whether/how vitamin D can be replenished with sun exposure in Part Four of this mini-series and I do not recommend that you dash out and buy a bunch of vitamin D until you have read Part Four as there are some crucial safety considerations and practical tips to stop you wasting your money.
What I will say is that supplementation with vitamin D is very hit and miss unless you know your initial levels. If your levels are very low, you may need higher doses than are usually recommended and you may also need a little vitamin K2 to support the proper metabolism of the vitamin D. It really is important to know your starting point.
Vitamin D Testing – Summary
As you’ve seen, 25-OH-Vitamin D levels can vary widely from person-to-person.
If you really want to optimize your levels, the starting point – i.e. your initial vitamin D levels – may govern the recommendations for optimizing your vitamin D status and it is also very important to track changes in vitamin D levels (and, in some people, calcium and vitamin K2 status) to ensure that the protocol is working!
My personal view is that because it is so easy to perform and reasonably priced and because vitamin D is such a vital nutrient, testing ought to be compulsory in clinics around the world. Unfortunately this is not the case, but we are fortunate to have such excellent and accessible technology available to us!
As always I hope you have enjoyed – and gained benefit – from reading this information and I look forward to Part Four when I will share with you the recommendations for vitamin D supplementation.
P.S. Please do feel free to comment or ask questions, below!