Here in Scotland the darker season is definitely upon us. So it’s time to check your vitamin D now! My experience is that GP’s don’t do the test often. But you can do an at-home test. I’ll tell you where and how below.
I just ordered our own tests – we take them every year in April/May and November. We do that so we know our levels and can adjust supplementation. I don’t want to be deficient, but also make sure I’m not overdosing – as I did at some point.
Sunlight and food
Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and it also protects bone, muscle and heart health. There is a suggestion that higher levels vitamin D are connected to lower severity of COVID.
You can get it from food and your body can produce it when sunlight hits your skin. But it can be hard – impossible here in Scotland in winter – to get enough vitamin D each day through sun exposure and food. That’s why I ask all clients to get tested, even when they already take a vitamin D supplement. When the results come back more often than not they show that they’re deficient.
D2 or D3?
So finding the right dosage and form of vitamin D is important. You will find both vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 in the shops. Vitamin D3 has been found to increase blood levels significantly more than D2. Studies have shown that every 100 IU of vitamin D3 you consume per day will raise your blood vitamin D levels by an average 1 ng/ml (2.5 nmol/l). IU is the standard unit for this vitamin, so look for that on the label.
D and K work as a team
When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. One of the main functions of vitamin D is to make sure there is enough calcium in the blood.
However, vitamin D does not fully control where in your body the calcium ends up. That’s where vitamin K steps in.
Vitamin K makes sure the calcium gets stored in your bones and teeth and makes sure it doesn’t go into other tissues, like your kidneys and blood vessels.
Blood vessel calcification is not a good thing and is connected to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart and kidney disease. Yikes! So make sure you take a supplement with both D3 and K2.
Taking very high doses of vitamin D3 over a long period can lead to excessive buildup in your body. Because the vitamin is stored in body fat and is released into the bloodstream slowly, the effects may last for several months after you stop taking supplements . So don’t continiously take a high dose because you want to make sure you get enough. And do the testing twice a year.
Test your vitamin D at home
You can actually test your vitamin D levels at home via the NHS lab. It’s a simple test with a fingerprick and you usually have the results in 3 days. Costs are £29.
Now what to do when you get your results back? I like Vitamin D levels between 80 – 200 nmol/L, preferably closer to the 200. If your levels are on the low side, start supplementing now or up the dosage you’re already taking.
Any questions about your results? Send me a message or schedule a call here.