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A large percentage of the population would benefit from higher levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the prevention of some 20 common cancers, the prevention of bone problems, modulation of neuromuscular and immune function, reduction of inflammation, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Vitamin D also seems to improve infertility, weight control and memory.

The D story

Vitamin D Testing: Too Much or Not Enough?

Vitamin D testing is on the rise as more and more people find out about all the various diseases and conditions to which vitamin D has been associated. While there is still much work to be done to determine that exact nature of the relationship between vitamin D and optimal health, people around the world have caught on – vitamin D is an important enough nutrient to justify finding out what your levels are and what to do about if you find yourself in the deficiency or insufficiency range.

One recent study has determined that the surge in vitamin D deficiency being reported around the world might be largely due to the fact that it is being tested for more frequently. And to that, we say, “Great!” All the more reason to encourage even more testing, in our opinion. How else are we really going to know just how serious the global pandemic in vitamin D deficiency is? And yet, just because so much about vitamin D is merely correlational, there are many in the medical community who decry all this recent vitamin D testing. The way this argument goes is like this quote from an article on the study: “Still, several prominent health organizations such as The Endocrine Society and The Institute of Medicine only recommend patients undergo vitamin D deficiency testing if they're at risk [for weak bones] as there is no evidence that testing everyone is beneficial, Huang said.” But the link between vitamin D and bone health has been so well established that testing everyone is beneficial because being deficient in vitamin D can so easily lead to known problems in bone health!

One of the biggest barriers to further advances in vitamin D testing is the fact that many insurance companies will not cover routine testing for vitamin D levels. As an example, look at what the new policy (as of 2011) was at Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon. It states: “The value of vitamin D testing in many clinical circumstances is not established in the scientific literature - especially for routine screening purposes. We are therefore implementing a new Vitamin D Testing (Laboratory #52) medical policy, effective July 1, 2011. This policy, which provides detailed rationale, finds vitamin D testing not medically necessary for routine screening purposes and will be denied as a provider write-off.” It goes on to question whether the testing is reliable and also notes that optimal levels have not been established or that testing would lead to any kind of improved health outcomes. This strikes us as incredibly shortsighted.

We can only hope that critical new vitamin D research is undertaken that will prove what vitamin D can do, for everyone’s sake.

Sources for Further Reading:

Tags: health
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