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Vitamin D Screening

You need vitamin D because it helps you to maintain strong bones, and because it helps your muscles move, helps your nerves carry messages, and bolsters your immune system so you can fight bacteria and viruses.

Having said that, some people are just not getting enough of the important vitamin. One survey, reported by the Centers for Disease Control, said that in the period from 2001 to 2006 about a quarter of the population had vitamin D levels that put them at risk of inadequacy . Other reports put that figure even higher, perhaps as much as 50 percent.

Sunshine, food and supplements all figure into the equation to maintain healthy levels of D.

A common, and accurate, way to see what your vitamin D level is through a simple blood test called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.

Unlike some blood tests for other conditions, you probably do not have to fast for this one.

A simple finger stick blood test will do the trick.

When it’s time for the results, look for a number between 30.0 and 74.0 nanograms per milliliter, which you may see listed as ng/mL.

If your results are lower than normal, here are some possible reasons:

  • Not enough sun
  • Eating foods that do not contain sufficient vitamin D
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Poor food absorption
  • Some medications, including phenytoin, phenobarbital and rifampin

In the end, you’ll find out if you need to change your diet, spend more time in the sun or take a supplement.

Some people may be more prone that others to have the deficiency, including:

  • Dark skinned people who have to get more sun than people with fair skin to get the vitamin D benefit.
  • People who spend most of their time indoors, for reasons of health or work, for instance.
  • Sunscreen and clothing to protect yourself from the bad effects of the sun can also limit the amount of sun your body gets.
  • You live in an area where the sun doesn’t shine as much as in, say, the southern states.
  • Older people absorb less of the sun.
  • Overweight people

You should also pay attention to your own body, whether you’re more tired than you used to be, feel pain in your bones, or feel weak.

If any of those things sound familiar to you, get tested.

Read More About Vitamin D Deficiency

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