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25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-high-DROX-ee-VIE-tuh-min D), 25(OH)D
Vitamin D is mainly found in fortified dairy foods, juice, breakfast cereal, and certain fish. This vitamin plays many roles in the body. But because it helps the body absorb calcium from foods and supplements, it's particularly important for bone health. Vitamin D has many additional roles in the body.
Vitamin D comes in several forms. When ultraviolet light, such as sunlight, hits your skin, it creates vitamin D3. D2 is used to fortify dairy foods. Both of these are further processed by your liver and kidneys into a form your body can use. Most tests for vitamin D check the level of a form circulating in the body called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, also called 25(OH)D.
You may need this test if your healthcare provider wants to check your vitamin D levels to find out if you have any risks to bone health. These might be:
Soft bones caused by low vitamin D or problems using it (osteomalacia)
Rickets, in children
You may also need this test if you are at risk for low vitamin D levels. Risks include:
Being an older adult
Having difficulty absorbing fat from your diet
Having chronic kidney disease
Have dark skin pigmentation
Being a breastfed baby
Vitamin D has many effects in the body. You may need this test to help your healthcare provider diagnose or treat:
Problems with the parathyroid gland
Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease
Weakness or falls
A healthcare provider may also want to check your parathyroid hormone levels and your calcium levels.
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Children and adults need more than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of vitamin D. The optimal level of 25(OH)D is usually between 30 and 60 ng/mL. Recommended daily amounts range from 400 to 800 international units (IU) per day based on your age.
Levels lower than normal can mean you are:
Not making enough vitamin D on your own
Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet
Not absorbing vitamin D from your food as you should
Lower levels may also mean that your body is not converting the vitamin as it should. This might be because of kidney or liver disease.
Above-normal levels may be a sign that you're taking too much in supplement form.
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand.
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
The amount of time you spend in the sunlight, your diet, and whether you take vitamin D in supplement form can affect your vitamin D levels. Ask your healthcare provider if any health conditions you have or medicines you take could affect your results.
Tell your healthcare provider if you take vitamin D supplements. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
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