A finger tip can do more than point!
You may have seen or even had a blood glucose test done by pricking the finger to get a spot of blood. Advances in methods for retrieving the blood and analysing it means that we can now assess for more health factors than just glucose. Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids can now be assessed with a simple spot of blood.
Apart from the small pin-prick, the test is painless. If you've had acupuncture before, then this procedure is no more uncomfortable. The spot of blood is then applied to a special paper and sent to a laboratory for assessment. This procedure is easily and conveniently completed in clinic. Being able to have the test administered in clinic removes the need to visit your GP or other pathology provider. The results report is delivered directly back to you and your practitioner who can assess and discuss it with you. With up-to-date data at hand, the Vitamin D and Omega 3 tests can form an important part of your treatment plan and management. Let's take a closer look at Vitamin D.
Who should have their Vitamin D levels checked?
Anybody can have their levels checked, but it is certainly indicated for any person who has previously been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis, osteopenia or calcium deficiency. In fact, it is estimated that 23% of Australian adults have insufficient levels of Vitamin D. People who are at risk include:
People with naturally very dark skin
Older adults - especially the frail - who are in medium to long-term residential care, where getting enough sun exposure can be hard
People who cover their skin for cultural or religious reasons
People who deliberately avoid sun exposure for cosmetic or health reasons
People who spend long hours indoors or have jobs where there is limited sun exposure
People who live in higher or lower latitudes that have naturally shorter days in winter months.
Why is Vitamin D important?
Vitamin D (which is actually more like a hormone than a vitamin) can be created naturally by our skin when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, skeletal maintenance and has roles supporting the immune and nervous systems, skin, pancreas, muscles and cartilage. Vitamin D also plays a role with our mental health, sleep quality, and weight regulation. The majority of people can obtain sufficient Vitamin D from 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on their face and limbs (in summer). To a lesser extent, vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified foods, eggs, liver and fatty fish, however, it’s difficult to reach sufficient intake from diet alone. The exception to this is sun bathed mushrooms which are very high in Vitamin D.
What should my Vitamin D levels be?
It varies depending on gender, age, pregnancy and the risk factors noted above. Vitamin D in a blood test is assessed in its storage form, called 25-hydroxy-vitamin D or, Vitamin D 25 (OH). It is measured in nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) and generally 30 ng/ml is sufficient in the general population. However some research (here, here and here) indicates that higher levels are beneficial in some cases such as older adults at risk of fall and hip fracture.
But I take a Vitamin D supplement. Why should I test my levels?
If you have been recommended to take a Vitamin D supplement, you may already know your levels are lower than optimal. A good management plan should include monitoring of your levels to ensure that your blood levels are improving. Everybody's metabolism is different and some people may require a higher dose to see results, but if your levels are already sufficient, there is no benefit in taking extra.
How long does it take to get the test results?
Results are returned in around 5 working days.
How often should I test my Vitamin D?
It is recommended to take an initial test prior to commencing a supplement regime, and then again in 3 months.
Who is the laboratory?
OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers Omega-3 Index, Vitamin D, Prenatal DHA and Mother’s Milk DHA testing to researchers, clinicians and the public.
When can I get the test done and does it cost?
Anytime in clinic. Either as part of a wider consultation and treatment, or as a specific consultation as part of assessing your nutritional status and wellbeing plan. There is a fee for the laboratory to analyse the sample and return the results report. Don't hesitate to ask me for details.
Don't be one of the 23% of Australians with a Vitamin D deficiency. Talk to me about it clinic at your next appointment!