Vitamin D guidance by Public Health England has highlighted the UK-wide issue of vitamin D deficiency, but how do you know if you are one of the estimated 10 million people with low vitamin D levels? A simple test can put your mind at rest.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Vitamin D is essential for enabling calcium to enter the bones, as well as ensure a robust immune system.
Common symptoms include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Low mood and depression
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle and bone pain
Long term deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including osteoporosis – a condition that weakens the bones, leaving them more susceptible to breaking.
Who’s at risk?
The UK government considers the following groups to be at risk with year-round supplementation advised.
- Infants and children under 5 years
- Over 65’s
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People who have no or low exposure to sunlight
- People who have darker skin
As little as 10% of our required vitamin D is available through diet alone, with most of our vitamin D needing to come from the skin’s exposure to the sun.
However, a report by Public Health England shows that the suns UVB rays during the months October to March are not strong enough to maintain sufficient levels.
This report led to the UK Government expanding its recommendations from at-risk groups to everyone supplementing vitamin D through the winter months.
With increasingly indoor lifestyles now the norm and fears of skin cancer leading to high use of sun creams, people are not being sufficiently exposed to the sun and may not synthesise sufficient vitamin D to meet physiological requirements, even during the summer months.
Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise in the UK with 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 children estimated to have low vitamin D levels.
Testing can be done through your local GP, though many doctors are reluctant to offer this service unless patients are within at-risk groups, due to cost. However, there are a number of at-home testing kits available if you aren't able to go through your GP.
We've partnered with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to give an affordable and accurate option at-home testing service.
The kit uses a simple finger-prick test which you can pop in the post. Testing is carried out by an NHS laboratory using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry to measure the Vitamin D in the blood. The blood spot measures 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which reflects the bodies vitamin D stores for vitamin both D2 and D3.
A clear interpretation of the vitamin D level is sent by email, this usually takes around 5-8 working days, along with an individual supplementation plan and a coupon code to redeem a complimentary Vitamin D Oral Spray (at a dosage relevant to their results), to help start the journey to optimum vitamin D levels.
We now know that vitamin D deficiency is reaching epidemic proportions. This home testing kit allows people to take control of their own needs. It is easy to do from the comfort of your own home and results are back in a few days.