One cold and dreary Tuesday, I stroked my finger to encourage blood flow to the tip and pricked it with a lancet. I then put droplets of my crimson – God it was crimson – blood onto a piece of paper and proceeded to feel extremely woozy, before electing to take myself to a carpeted area where fainting would not be fatal.
Prone though I am to a case of the faints, I was determined to go through with extracting enough blood for the purpose of determining whether I was vitamin D deficient. And, unfortunately for me, the only way to do it was to prick my finger and dot my blood above the marks before sending the sample off to get my results.
Vitamin D deficiency, you see, is becoming something of an issue in the UK where the sun’s rays are too weak between September and May to allow effective vitamin D production. The result? Anything from muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headaches, poor immune system to a variety of more serious conditions such as bone disease.
So concerned is the NHS about the strain vitamin D deficiency associated symptoms is having on the NHS (which is estimated to cost up to £29 billion annually), that the UK NHS Trust has teamed up with health supplement pioneer BetterYou to develop the kit I tested out.
Fainting aside, it really is quite a simple process – everything you need to determine your levels comes in the pack. Once you’ve sent off your blood sample, City Assays (part of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust) use liquid chromatography mass spectrometry to measure the Vitamin D in the blood. In layman’s terms: you are sent back a piece of paper that tells you where you sit on the scale.
From there you are advised, depending on your result, to supplement to make up a deficit. The recommended way to supplement vitamin D is with a sublingual spray; due to vagaries of the digestive system, the vascular system in our mouth is a far superior vehicle for vitamin D absorption, allowing a greater volume to be processed far more quickly than a pill form might. Thankfully, the recommended BetterYou DLux daily Vitamin D supplement is not the unhappy sour experience you might remember from childhood medicines but is instead a sweet and tasty spray that I rather looked forward to.
I know this because despite my ‘adequate’ 68.7nmol/l reading falling into the healthy vitamin D bracket (though still below the ideal range of 75nmol/l to 100nmol/l), maintaining this level with three months to go before the weather will offer assistance is, however, still a challenge. ‘With around 70-80 days before the sun is high enough in the sky to allow vitamin D production within the skin I would strongly recommend a daily intake of a single spray of DLux3000 to effectively maintain levels,’ said BetterYou founder Andrew Thomas of my reading.
To ensure I stayed topped up, I started using the DLux spray that is provided as part of the testing kit. I have been on the supplement for a month now and haven’t yet contracted the cough that seems to have plagued each member of my household. In fact, I feel perkier than ever. A little like I’ve had a dose of sunshine.
Vitamin D home testing kits are priced at £25 and available from http://www.betteryou.uk.com or by calling 0114 220 2229.
The DLux range retails from £6.25 and is available from Holland & Barratt, independent retailers across the UK and http://www.betteryou.uk.com