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FAQs

Vitamin D Hydroxy Test

What is a vitamin D hydroxy test?

A vitamin D 25-hydroxy test is a simple blood test used by doctors to measure vitamin D levels in the blood. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 41% of American adults have vitamin D deficiency. This can lead to bone and muscle pain, increased risk of infection, and fatigue. Additionally, vitamin D plays a crucial role in protecting the body from conditions such as:


  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Bone loss

Your doctor may recommend a vitamin D 25-hydroxy test if you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. People at risk of a vitamin D deficiency include:


  • Older adults
  • Individuals with dark skin
  • Individuals who do not receive much sun exposure
  • Individuals managing obesity
  • Individuals with osteoporosis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease
  • Individuals who have had gastric bypass surgery

What are the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency?

A vitamin D 25-hydroxy test may be ordered by your doctor if you exhibit symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Common symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include:


  • Frequent illness or infection
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss

While these symptoms may not be a definitive sign of a vitamin D deficiency, they are common indicators that you may lack this vital nutrient. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms such as those above, talk to your doctor about a vitamin D 25-hydroxy test.

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D is a naturally occurring substance that plays multiple roles in overall health. Your body produces vitamin D when it has exposure to sunlight, as well as through food sources such as:


  • Fish (especially salmon, tuna, and sardines)
  • Orange juice
  • Fortified dairy products (such as milk and yogurt)
  • Egg yolks

Even 15-20 minutes of sun, 3-4 times a week is enough to supply your body with adequate vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is crucial in building and maintaining strong bones. This can help prevent bone loss, injury, chronic pain, and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D can also help improve mood. A common symptom of a vitamin D deficiency is mood changes that include anxiety and depression.

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of fatigue, depression, bone pain, and muscle weakness, talk to your doctor about whether or not a vitamin D 25-hydroxy test is right for you.

What should I expect during my vitamin D test?

Vitamin D 25-hydroxy tests are simple procedures that can be performed at your primary care provider’s clinic.

Before the test, you will be asked to fast for 4-8 hours. This is all the preparation that is required.

During the test, your blood will be drawn via a small prick of your finger or a needle inserted into your arm. This may cause a brief moment of pinching or stinging, but this discomfort will subside after a few seconds. Your blood will be deposited into a small vial for testing. After the appropriate amount of blood has been drawn, your finger or arm will be cleaned and bandaged. The vial containing your blood will be sent to the lab for testing.

After your test, you are free to resume your daily activities as normal. No sedation or medication is needed for a vitamin D 25-hydroxy test, so you will not be required to stick around the clinic for monitoring.

In most cases, you should get the results of your test within 1-3 business days of your appointment.

How do I interpret the results of my vitamin D test?

Vitamin D levels in the blood are measured in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl).

In general, 25-50 ng/dl of vitamin D in the blood is considered healthy and normal. Vitamin D levels below 25 ng/dl are considered deficient.

Low levels of vitamin D in the blood may indicate that you are either not absorbing the mineral properly, are not eating a diet with enough vitamin D, or are not getting enough exposure to the sun. This is usually treatable with supplementation or lifestyle changes.

Excessive levels of vitamin D (over 50 ng/dl) usually indicate the overuse of vitamin D supplements. It is nearly impossible to have excessive levels of vitamin D in the blood from sun exposure or diet. An excess of vitamin D can lead to vitamin D toxicity, which may cause nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, and kidney failure. Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you if it is found that you have too much vitamin D in your blood.

How do increase my vitamin D intake?

Lifestyle changes are the primary treatment option for a vitamin D deficiency. Moderate sun exposure, like UV light, can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. A healthy diet is one of the first methods for increasing vitamin D intake. Foods rich in vitamin D include:


  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified milk and juices (such as orange juice)
  • Yogurt
  • Mushrooms
  • Beef liver
  • Fortified cereals

In addition to dietary changes, your doctor may recommend or prescribe vitamin D supplements. Talk to your doctor before beginning treatment with vitamin supplements, as well as recommended dosage. Overuse of vitamin D can lead to vitamin toxicity - which can lead to potentially serious side effects.

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