Vitamin D Deficiency: A Serious Epidemic

Vitamin D plays an important role in our health and wellbeing. This particular vitamin is necessary for healthy bones, joints, muscles, immune system, and so much more. Abnormalities in vitamin D levels are common, which is why it’s important to track them.

25-hydroxyvitamin D test

Before the body uses vitamin D, it is converted to a chemical 25-hydroxyvitamin D or calcidiol by your liver. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D test is used to assess the concentration of this micronutrient in the body. Basically, this is a typical blood test which means you shouldn’t eat about 4-8 hours before it’s done.

The vitamin D test is used to determine whether bone weakness and fractures and joint pain are associated with a deficiency in this micronutrient. It can also help monitor parathyroid gland function, aid management of malabsorption disorders such as Crohn’s disease, osteoporosis, and other health conditions.

The 25-hydroxyvitamin test can yield the following results:

  • Normal levels: between 50nmol/l (20ng/ml) and 125nmol/l (50ng/ml)
  • Potential deficiency: between 30nmol/l (12ng/ml) and 50nmol/l
  • Deficiency: less than 30nmol/l
  • High levels: over 125nmol/l

Managing Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is considered a major public health problem worldwide in all age groups. It is estimated that over 41.6% Americans are deficient in this vitamin. Almost half of all Americans don’t have sufficient concentration of sunshine vitamin in their body, which is a major reason for concern. The importance of managing vitamin D deficiency lies in the fact it is associated with numerous health consequences such as osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome. If left unmanaged, vitamin D deficiency can make management of these conditions much harder.

Here are some useful tips to manage low vitamin D levels:

  • Get some sun, strive to spend 5-30 minutes in the sun between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week (without sunscreen)
  • Exercise regularly to lose weight
  • Eat vitamin D-rich foods such as cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, caviar, eggs, mushrooms
  • Look for fortified foods containing vitamin D
  • Take vitamin D supplements
  • Don’t ditch egg yolks
  • Consume beef or calf liver

Excessive Vitamin D

Excessive vitamin D is referred to as hypervitaminosis D and it is a rare condition whose official statistics are still lacking. Although rare, high vitamin D is a serious condition with severe consequences. You’re not likely to get hypervitaminosis D from sunlight and nutrition. The primary cause of this problem is an excessive intake of vitamin D supplements. Tracking and managing vitamin D is particularly important if we bear in mind excessive levels are associated with hypercalcemia (high calcium), kidney damage, excess bone loss, and hardening of the arteries.

Management of excess vitamin D requires the following measures:

  • Reduce or stop taking vitamin D supplements
  • Decrease intake of calcium-rich foods for now
  • Drink more water to urinate more frequently in order to excrete excess calcium
  • Lower intake of vitamin D-rich foods until levels of this vitamin normalise

 

Monitoring vitamin D levels is a practical and effective way to prevent deficiency and excessive levels of this vitamin. To avoid these problems, strive to consume recommended daily value of 15mcg vitamin D a day. Consult your doctor if you have problems with bones, kidneys, joints, muscles, and fatigue to do 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. This test is particularly important if you already have a condition that is influenced by abnormalities in vitamin D.


If you’re interested in learning more about Vitamin D and why it is essential to your body, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!

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