Early detection test for vitamin D deficiency has ‘unclear’ benefit. Who it doesn’t benefit from: People without deficiency symptoms who live alone at home. This is reported by the IGeL monitor.
Early detection test for vitamin D deficiency has ‘unclear’ benefit. Who it doesn’t benefit from: People without deficiency symptoms who live alone at home. This is reported by the IGeL monitor. Evaluates self-pay services on behalf of the Federal Medical Service.
The human body needs vitamin D. The liver and kidneys convert the vitamin into a hormone that is of great importance for the supply of calcium to the bones and thus also for bone health. Whether the risk of developing other serious diseases, such as infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, is related to vitamin D deficiency has not been proven and is a matter of debate among researchers.
People who are outdoors often produce more vitamin D
Vitamin D is absorbed from food only to a very small extent, for example when eating herring, salmon, mushrooms or egg yolk. The main source is sunlight: 80 to 90 percent of vitamin D is produced by our skin in response to UVB radiation in sunlight. In this regard, the production of vitamin D depends on various factors.
Due to longer and more intense sunlight in summer, conditions are more favorable than in the darker winter months. People who spend most of their time outdoors may produce more vitamin D than people who spend most of their time indoors. As we age, the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D decreases. In adults, a long-term lack of vitamin D can lead to disorders of the bone formation process or promote osteoporosis, in which the bone substance is reduced.
Measuring vitamin D status is a self-pay service
The individual health service “Vitamin D Deficiency Screening” is often offered or requested by patients. In the IGeL Report 2020, it was one of the 20 most common self-pay services. Medical practice also offers them in combination with other determinations of vitamins – such as the so-called “vitamin control” -, sometimes supplemented with a vitamin supplement.
Vitamin D status is determined from a blood sample. Laboratory costs for determining vitamin D range between 27.98 euros and 32.18 euros for insured persons. According to the press release, there are additional costs for medical assistance and blood sampling.
Who benefits from an early detection test for vitamin D
The scientific team at IGeL-Monitor did not find any studies directly examining whether such screening is beneficial in adults without signs of vitamin D deficiency. However, there are studies examining the effects of vitamin D intake in people with low vitamin D levels but without signs of vitamin D deficiency .
It turns out that people who live alone at home do not benefit from this. Only older individuals, such as those living in medical or nursing facilities, appear to benefit modestly from vitamin D supplementation. Therefore, you can benefit from early detection of vitamin D deficiency.
The direct harms of vitamin D screening do not exceed the risks of drawing blood. However, screening tests in general can lead to false-negative or false-positive results and overdiagnosis, causing unnecessary worry and anxiety. However, this possible damage is only considered a secondary factor when evaluating the IGeL monitor, since the diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency is not so threatening compared to other diseases.