Although called a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone which is activated by sunshine on your skin. Vitamin D is essential for bone strength as it helps your intestines absorb calcium. However, it is thought that vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function, as well as in many chronic diseases and mental health.
Many people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D with symptoms including muscle weakness, mood swings and fatigue. People who have dark skin, as well as those who don't spend much time outdoors are particularly at risk of low vitamin D.
Small amounts of vitamin D can be obtained from food, especially oily fish, eggs and any food which has been fortified with vitamin D. If you are deficient in vitamin D you are unlikely to be able to improve your levels by food alone.
What might a low result mean?
If you are found to have insufficient or deficient vitamin D then you are not alone; many people in the UK do not produce enough Vitamin D, especially in the winter months when there are fewer daylight hours. Low levels of vitamin D are almost always due to insufficient exposure to sunlight although lack of vitamin D rich foods may play a role.
What might a high result mean?
Too much vitamin D is toxic and almost always caused by over-supplementation. Toxic levels can cause hyerpcalcaemia and hyperphosphataemia which can cause fatigue, constipation, back pain, forgetfulness, nausea, vomiting and in extreme cases even kidney or heart issues.
If this is the case then supplementation should be immediately reduced. If supplements are not the cause then further investigation will be warranted.
How might I improve my result?
If your Vitamin D levels are low, implementing a few easy lifestyle changes such as getting out more in the sunshine, increasing the amount of oily fish you eat and taking a vitamin D supplement, can improve your vitamin D levels for the better.
Supplementation is a simple and safe way to boost your vitamin D levels and our doctors can advise what's best for you based on your results.