I’ve written several blog posts this year on the importance of vitamin D in our diets. Often called the “sunshine vitamin,” because sunlight is required for our bodies to produce it, vitamin D is best known for maintaining bone and muscle mass. More recent research has suggested that it may have numerous other benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of some cancers, improving mood and even offering protection from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It also is particularly beneficial for menopausal women, as Dr. James Dowd, author of “The Vitamin D Cure” explained to me in an interview earlier this year;
“In the absence of estrogen, vitamin D is one of the last members of our body’s ‘maintenance crew’ and one that never has to retire. So it’s essential to make sure that your vitamin D levels are normal through sun and supplement.”
After my conversation with Dr. Dowd, I had my own vitamin D level checked. As an active person who plays tennis several times a week, I thought I’d score an easy “A” on my test, since I clearly get a lot of sun exposure. Was I ever wrong! My test result was 50 percent below the ideal range and after several months of taking 5000 IU of a vitamin D supplement daily, I’m almost where I should be. So, even if you’re an “outdoor type,” I highly recommend getting your own 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, and now it’s possible to do-it-yourself and save some money.
There’s a new in-home, vitamin D test kit that you can order from Portland, OR – based ZRT Labs, which has partnered with the Vitamin D Council to make this test kit available directly to consumers. It can be ordered online or by phone and costs $65 – far less than the $150 to $200 that a commercial or hospital lab charges. For every test ordered, ZRT Labs says that it will donate $10 to the Vitamin D Council.
In the council’s email newsletterthat I just received, they stated that “we verified..that ZRT provides accurate and reliable vitamin D tests and that their method corresponds very well to the gold standard of vitamin D blood tests.”
The test involves a finger stick. You send the blotter paper back to ZRT in a postage-paid envelope provided with the kit. A week later you get results back in the mail. You can learn more about the test on ZRT’s website. where you can also download a patient handout on vitamin D.