According to the Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health, a normal vitamin D level is anywhere between 12 and 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
If you have lower levels than 12 ng/mL, then you are considered to be vitamin D deficient.
In addition to a deficiency, your doctor will also look to ensure that you don’t have too much vitamin D in your blood.
A level over 60 ng/mL is too much, and is considered toxicity, which can lead to some serious health issues.
What may surprise you is that many physicians don’t order the right test when testing for vitamin D deficiency.
The reason for this is that there are two tests with similar names, the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and the Dihydroxy 1,25(OH)(2)D. The correct test is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD).
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How Can I Make Sure That My Doctor Orders the Right Vitamin D Test?
Simply put, you need to ask your doctor for the 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25-OHD) test. What’s more, you have every right to follow up and review the test order to ensure it is the test that you are looking for.
Since you or your insurance company are paying for the test, you can double-check anything that you want. The problem with the optional vitamin D test is that it doesn’t test for vitamin D that is circulating in the blood.
The 25-OHD test checks for stored vitamin D. You need to know what’s actually being utilized by your body, if there isn’t enough, there is a deficiency.
Do I Have to Go to the Doctors to Get a Vitamin D Test?
In this day and age, you don’t have to go to the doctor for any kind of blood test. You can do it at home and then send your blood into a lab for results. Of course, no one expects you to draw blood the traditional way.
Finding a lab online that sells the test that you are looking for is how the at-home tests work. Again, don’t forget, you want the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) test.
You order the test kit and it is sent to you at home. You will use a lancet to prick your finger and put your blood onto a test strip, send it back to the lab and then wait for your results.
Everything that you need to conduct the test will be included in your kit. This means rubbing alcohol, lancet, test strips, and even a band-aid should be included.
A 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) test kit costs around $60. If you have insurance, it may be in your best interest to see your doctor for this test. If you don’t have medical insurance, then $60 is a lot cheaper than paying for a doctor’s visit and lab fees.
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What Should I Do If My Vitamin D Levels Are Lower Than Normal?
The answer to this question really depends on why your vitamin D levels are lower than normal. Do you have underlying health problems that prevent your body from absorbing vitamin D? If so, your first step should be taking care of that problem.
If your lack of vitamin D is due to lack of sun exposure, then you can correct that by spending 10 to 20 minutes a day out in the sun.
However, there is also the problem of places that don’t get enough sun due to their geographic location.
In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends supplementation for most people, regardless of how much sun you get. However, they may be overlooking studies that show the dangers of too much vitamin D. The bottom line is that you don’t want to exceed 60 ng/mL and risk the health problems associated with vitamin D toxicity.
What Are the Problems Associated with Too Much Vitamin D?
According to the Mayo Clinic, when you have enough vitamin D to cause a toxic response, it is called hypervitaminosis D. Too much vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which is when the calcium level in your blood is above normal.
In its early stages, hypercalcemia is easily treated by your doctor. If left untreated, you will have to go to the hospital for treatment.
Most side effects from too much vitamin D go away with treatment. Of course, you have to stop taking vitamin D supplements as well as any calcium supplements.
If left untreated, hypercalcemia can cause symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, and kidney problems.
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