What is the Vitamin D test? When is it recommended?

by Dr. Ajay Phadke
9 minutes
What is the Vitamin D test? When is it recommended?

Vitamin D: All you wanted to know about it. Are you deficient in it? What is the test like?

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is vital for strong bones. It also has important, emerging roles in immune function and cancer prevention. Deficiencies at any stage of life can have devastating consequences. Similarly, vitamin D toxicity resulting from overmedication can cause serious hypercalcemia. Vitamin D consists of 2 bioequivalent forms:

  • Vitamin D2: obtained from vegetable sources (dietary sources, supplements);
  • Vitamin D3: derived from both endogenous (synthesized from cholesterol through sun exposure) and exogenous (animal diet) sources.

Why do we need Vitamin D?

Sources of Vitamin D

How is Vitamin D Synthesized?

Deficiency of Vitamin D

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:

  • Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive impairment in older adults

Causes of Vitamin Deficiency:-

If you are a pure vegetarian, then you are likely to suffer from vitamin d deficiency since most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk.

If your exposure to sunlight is limited then your body makes less vitamin D.

If your Kidneys cannot convert Vitamin D to its active form then you will be Vitamin D deficient.

As people age, their kidneys are able to convert less vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.

If your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D.

Certain medical problems, including Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine's ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.

Hypervitaminosis D:- Hypervitaminosis means excessive intake of vitamin D

Symptoms of Hypervitaminosis D:-

Excessive amounts of vitamin D in the body can cause calcium levels in the blood to rise. This can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia (too much calcium in your blood), which can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive urination
  • dehydration
  • constipation
  • irritability, nervousness
  • ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea, vomiting
  • dizziness
  • confusion, disorientation
  • high blood pressure
  • heart arrhythmias
  • Longer-term complications of untreated
    hypervitaminosis D include:
  • kidney stones
  • kidney damage
  • kidney failure
  • excess bone loss
  • calcification (hardening) or arteries and soft tissues
  • increase blood calcium which can cause abnormal heart rhythms

Causes of Hypervitaminosis:-

It is unlikely that you would take in too much vitamin D from the foods you eat or from exposure to the sun. In most cases, this condition is caused by taking more than the recommended daily value of vitamin D supplements.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, then please consult your doctor and get yourself tested for Vitamin D.

In short, a Vitamin D test will help you to determine & monitor

  • If bone weakness, bone malformation, or abnormal metabolism of calcium (reflected by abnormal calcium, phosphorus, PTH) is occurring as a result of a deficiency or excess of vitamin D
  • People who are at high risk of deficiency, as recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Institute of Medicine, and the Endocrine Society
  • The effectiveness of the treatment when vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and/or magnesium supplementation is prescribed.