Tag: Vitamin D

Test your Vitamin D for £25 at home

As the title suggest you can now get your Vitamin D levels tested privately for £25 and you can do it at home then send it off by post for the results.

Background

I have been inundated with comments in response to my article “Vitamin D Deficiency” posted on the 21st of May and have heard from a lot about people with low Vitamin D levels and have even been sent research suggesting a link to Fibromyalgia. Within these comments someone informed me of a Vitamin D test available in the USA and I asked if there was one available for people in the UK. I would like to credit Charlene Sphon for the link she sent me for a Vitamin D test in the UK so we have her to thank for this great bit of information. In my original post I said that many people in the UK could be suffering from low Vitamin D levels due to a long dark winter and this could effect those with and without Fibromyalgia. Since then it seems like most people with Fibromyalgia that have been tested have come out low, so it is certainly something worth looking into.

Symptoms of Low Vitamin D

To recap the symptoms of low Vitamin D are:

Fatigue
General muscle pain and weakness
Muscle cramps
Joint pain
Chronic pain
Weight gain
High blood pressure
Restless sleep
Poor concentration
Headaches

However there is no clear pattern of symptoms and some people remain symptom free despite low levels. It can also be hard to distinguish between the symptoms of low levels of Vitamin D and Fibromyalgia.

The £25 Test

About the test

The test is offered by the Pathology Department at City Hospital in Birmingham which is part of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. They will send you the kit with instructions by first class post and then you return it to them in a prepaid envelope. They then use liquid chromatography mass spectrometry method to measure the Vitamin D in your blood. This will measure both Vitamin D2 and D3 levels (also known as the 25-hydroxy test) and they will provide a clear interpretation of the results all of with your D2 and D3 levels. The results are sent to the email address provided on the consent form. But if you would prefer they we can post results to you. The results are expressed as nmol/L which are the older units still used in the US and some laboratories in the UK, however you can covert them to ng/mL with the help of their Q&A Page on their website. The test is a “blood spot” test where you prick your finger and place a spot of blood onto a sheet which acts a bit like Blotting Paper and you put four drops of the sheet. They aim to process results in 5 days.

How to buy

To buy you need to ring them on 01215074278 and pay over the telephone by debit or credit card. The cost of the kit and service is £25 and for organisations that order 10 or more they offer a discount of £5 (£20 per test). You can order from overseas for £30 a test to be sent by airmail.

Alternatives

If you have a reason for believing you have low Vitamin D levels your GP can conduct a blood test on the NHS at no cost so the £25 test is for added convenience of home testing and using the postal service. If you are due routine blood test your GP could arrange to test your Vitamin D levels at the same time.

If you have low Vitamin D

If you your test comes back as low you could increase your bodies exposure to sunlight as it is your body’s main form of collecting Vitamin D. Otherwise you can take Vitamin D supplements but speak to your doctor or Pharmacist before doing so. Too much Vitamin D can be harmful too.

Buying Vitamin D Supplements

Sometimes your GP may prescribe you supplements but you can also buy them in pharmacies and Health Food Shops. You can also buy them over the Internet and for more information visit Vitamin D in our Helpful Products section which has links you can follow to purchase them from a reliable retailer.

Click here to be taken to the Vitamin D test for £25 website


Vitamin D Deficiency

I thought I would write a post about Vitamin D deficiency as it seems to be a subject on the lips of quite a few at the moment and I have also added various Vitamins & Minerals to the Helpful Products section of the website.

Firstly I would like to mention Vitamin D without Fibromyalgia or particularly without a diagnosis as I think this offers a valuable insight into why it seems to be such a talking point. A few months ago a friend came to me to ask some advice about his health. He is one of those people who works all the hours god sends (in retail) but never seems to take a sick day. However on this occasion he was feeling out of character, fatigued and rather down. I went through the usual questions to probe his situation more and assess signs of stress, anxiety and depression. It became obvious that there was nothing “situational” in his life to cause these feelings and this led me onto considering chemical factors. I had a little think about my situation and his which on the face of it are very different, more like seeing what superman has in common with someone in a coma! I realised that he has spend the last six months literally in the dark, as had I, for different reasons and one of my problems was low Vitamin D. His lifestyle involves getting to work in the dark, coming home in the dark and spending all day indoors. As we had worked out his problem probably wasn’t situational but more chemical Vitamin D seemed a good starting point so I advised him to speak to his GP. A couple of hectic weeks passed until I spoke to him again but I was pleased to hear he had been to the doctors, his doctor has said the same as me, the doctors opinion was low Vitamin D and he prescribed a Supplement. He has taken these for a week or so and felt much better.

This got me thinking as at the time I was preparing to write an article about Hay Fever and I was explaining experts belief this year is going to be a really bad year for people with the condition. The reason was because of our particular long, cold and dark winter that we have just had in the UK. Now we get out Vitamin D from sunlight so perhaps this could be responsible for more than just a Hay Fever epidemic (if you will), but may be causing low Vitamin D in people more than a typical “seasonal variance.” This got me researching the problem and discovered journalists from the Mirror had been talking about the same subject in this article on their website.

Blood tests showed that I had low Vitamin D last summer and I had read up on the problem and how similar some symptoms were to Fibromyalgia but also how more likely people with Fibromyalgia were to have low Vitamin D. Depending on the severity of Fibromyalgia it the individual patient may determine how much it effects your mobility. Some patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are lucky to be able to hold down jobs but some of us, myself included are not so fortunate. I’ve hardly seen the sun in six months as I spend 95% of my time in bed and my best times are generally in the middle of the night. Some people with Fibromyalgia are very much the same. To prove my point about how similar the symptoms are here are some symptoms of low Vitamin D listed on one website:

There is no clear pattern of symptoms
People remain asymptomatic despite low levels
Fatigue
General muscle pain and weakness
Muscle cramps
Joint pain
Chronic pain
Weight gain
High blood pressure
Restless sleep
Poor concentration
Headaches
Bladder problems
Constipation or diarrhea

To me, that looks like a very similar list to the symptoms I associate with Fibromyalgia!

I think the best thing I can do is promote awareness of low Vitamin D, its symptoms, its relationship with Fibromyalgia and its relationship with the UK 2012/2013 winter. It may be worth discussing with your doctor especially if your symptoms have worsened over winter or if you are on a path towards a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. If your scheduled for any Blood Tests it may be worth asking for a Vitamin D level if its not already on the list.

To put things in perspective supplementation is sufficient for most and if you have low Vitamin D levels make sure you get tested after being on supplements a while to ensure its working and their isn’t a different reason behind the levels that may get missed. It is also worth mentioning that Vitamin D goes hand in hand with Calcium, basically Vitamin D helps the body to absorb Calcium so keep an eye on the relationship between the two on blood tests. If you have low levels of both and think it may be more than a lack of sunshine then read up on Hyperparathyroidism (Parathyroid Disease) but obviously try and keep things in perspective and discuss things with your GP. The long term risks of low Vitamin D include an increased risk of cancers (various studies show) so as it can be solved fairly easily it might be worth your while.

Too much

I would always speak to a Doctor or Pharmacist before taking any supplements. But certainly if your taking more than 1,000 IU. It is important to be monitored while taking supplementation so what your body is absorbing can be monitored and toxicity prevented. You can’t get too much from sunlight only but you can get too much taking it by mouth, as it is fat soluble the body has a hard time getting rid of it if you do take to much. Problems are toxicity, stripping calcium from your bones, kidney problems, stones and increased risk of cardio vascular disease.

“Very high levels of 25(OH)D can develop if you: take more than 10,000 IU/day (but not equal to) everyday for 3 months or more. However, vitamin D toxicity is more likely to develop if you take 40,000 IU/day everyday for 3 months or more.” – http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/am-i-getting-too-much-vitamin-d/

“Taking 50,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity. This level is many times higher than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for most adults of 600 IU of vitamin D a day.” – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d-toxicity/AN02008

Where to buy

Our Vitamins & Minerals (Suppliments) section within our Helpful products section has more information on Vitamin D and Calcium in general as well as some good places to buy supplements from.

Further Reading

Symptoms & Diseases Associated With Vitamin D Deficiency on drfranklipman.com
Vitamin D Deficiency on webmd.com


What do they want? Blood?

Well actually yes! But just to test low serum testosterone and Vitamin D.

So blood is what they got today. It has been requested by my Pain Management Consultant to check pituitary gland function due to the amount of morphine I use. I am due to see the Specialist Pharmacist next week who will review the results with a view to getting me off the morphine. It’s Typical that my shoulder would flare up a week before as that’s the exact thing the morphine was intended for in the first place as it is probably my most serious form of breakthrough pain. It’s only been mismanagement and crazy ideas of treating breakthrough and chronic pain all with morphine that got me dependant in the first place.

My unique problem with Blood Tests

On a side note extreme pain when having blood tests was the first manifestation of the super sensitive over-reaction my body seems to be all about and if you monitor my blog regularly you will know I consider this sensitivity and over-reaction to be the underlying cause of all my problems. Having blood taken is the most painful experience I have ever had, yet I live with chronic pain, have broken bones and suffered various far more serious pain manifestations but nothing compares to a blood test. No person has ever offered me an explanation as to why, medical professionals don’t seem to understand it, realise how significant it is and some may even not believe it. Way into adult life blood tests continued to be just as painful and ten to fifteen minutes afterwards I would go white, then green and pass out, every time without fail and no-one could understand it let alone stop it, I’ve even panicked a GP into thinking he had killed me during one of these episodes. This is how stupid my body seems to be! As a child, well teenager, I explored this problem with a psychologist as it seemed to be the best theory but even he concluded it was not a psychological response but a physical one for unknown reason.

However, with the help of a friendly nurse a few years ago we finally cracked it. I now use EMLA cream (Lidocane) at least an hour before on the skin over the best vein and dress it with a Tegaderm Film dressing. I then have it taken in a private room and I remain in there for about half an hour to ensure no collapsing occurs. When this has been done I feel absolutely no pain! So this is the solution, and although it’s a pain to arrange its worth it as I can now have pain free blood tests, which was probably my number 1 life wish!

I would be very very interested to hear from anyone with a similar pain response to blood tests or indeed the same delayed collapse afterwards. I really do believe it is an example of the mechanism in my body that is behind all my chronic pain issues yet I have never met anyone with the same problem or any medical professionals that understand it. I can’t help thinking I could solve most of my problems if this mechanism could be understood, so if you can help me you MUST let me know!


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