The best way to determine whether or not you have a low vitamin D level is to have your vitamin D blood levels measured and then decide whether or not to increase your exposure to the sun or even to supplement as the most neglected source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun's UVB rays. This allows the human skin to perform it's natural, intended, most effective way of creating Vitamin D.
When it comes to being outdoors and exposed to sunshine, a UV paranoia has been created that is contributing to what some people are calling "a silent epidemic" - the Vitamin D deficiency. Silent because it is not that easy to determine whether or not you have a low vitamin D level and so many people are just not aware of their issue.
If you do have a deficiency, it could lead to a multitude of other diseases. The best thing to do is to de-demonize the sun and reverse the brainwashing into believing that small amounts of sunshine in the middle of the day will NOT harm us but rather will provide a fabulous life enhancing property.
So, embrace the sunshine whenever possible and wear sunscreen and protective clothing after you have allowed a little time in the sun completely unprotected.
Diet supplements can help boost your low vitamin D level, but not as efficiently as sunlight can.
Studies have shown that as many as three out of four Americans suffer from low vitamin D. One specific study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine (a leading scientific journal), found the following low Vitamin D levels in their blood:
Some medical practitioners even think it's the most common medical condition in the world, affecting over one billion people and research is piling up to show just how essential Vitamin D is to our optimum health.
Of great interest and concern to me is that some of these health experts are saying that this epidemic of low Vitamin D levels can be passed on to the next generation! This is due to some recent studies showing that low Vitamin D levels are capable of being imprinted on infants and then affecting them their whole lives. eg. Infants deficient at birth can remain so for several months after birth, which may put them at risk of developing many chronic diseases much later in life.
Vitamin D needs vary with every individual and the following factors influence this:
U.S. and Norwegian researchers have found that people who live in higher latitudes are more prone to low Vitamin D levels as well as being more prone to developing common cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and depression.
The blood test you require to diagnose if you have a low vitamin D level is called a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D or 25 OH vitamin D) test.
There is another test that tends to confuse many people and is actually the wrong test - called a 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D test. In fact a common cause of high 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D is a low vitamin D level or vitamin D deficiency. ie. low 25(OH)D. So when doctors see the 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D is normal or high and tell their patients that they are OK, they are most often vitamin D deficient!
Optional Home Test
Another option is the Vitamin D Council's Home Test. This enables a blood spot test that you can order online without going through a doctor. You can see how this is done in the video below.