About the vitamins tested
GetTested’s vitamin test covers a wide range of vitamins. Below are stated the vitamins that are analysed, what their functions are and what causes a deficiency.
- Vitamin A (retinol): a nutrient that is important to vision. It helps the immune system work properly to fight against infections and illnesses. It also keeps the skin healthy. A Vitamin A deficiency causes you to have trouble seeing in low light (this is also referred to as night blindness). Your eyes and skin may become dry. In a worse case, vitamin A deficiency can cause infertility. Deficiency is caused mainly by an inadequate diet or chronic diarrhoea.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): a nutrient which processes food and turns it into energy for the body. A Vitamin B3 deficiency can lead to severe skin rash and cause diarrhoea, headaches and even depression. A diet low in tryptophans causes a deficiency.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): a nutrient that breaks down fats and carbohydrates and turns it into energy. It has an important function in the production of red blood cells and sex and stress-related hormones. It’s also known for lessening acne and keeping the skin clean and smooth. A Vitamin B5 deficiency, although rare, can cause insomnia, depression and stomach pains. Alcoholics and women who are on oral contraceptives are at risk for a vitamin B5 deficiency.
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): biotin metabolises carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids (protein). It is often found in cosmetics, because it strengthens the hair and nails. A Vitamin B7 deficiency causes thinning hair, skin rashes around the eyes, nose and mouth and brittle nails. Crohn’s disease or Colitis can cause a Vitamin B7 deficiency.
- Folate (vitamin B9): folate is necessary for the body to make DNA and other genetic material. It also plays a role in cell division. During periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy, it is a critical vitamin. A Folate deficiency causes fatigue, general weakness and neurological problems. A lack of folic acid in the diet results in a Folate deficiency.
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12): cobalamin plays an important role in energy metabolism. It is necessary to produce red blood cells and DNA. A Cobalamin deficiency causes feelings of tiredness and weakness and lightheadedness. People who don’t eat meat, eggs or milk are at risk of having a Cobalamin deficiency.
- Vitamin D3 (25OH): a nutrient that supports the immune system. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus and contributes to maintaining strong bones. A vitamin D3 deficiency can lead to the loss of bone strength and result in bone fractures. A low exposure to sunlight is the main cause of vitamin D3 deficiency.
- Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): vitamin E serves as an antioxidant. It protects the cells, organs, eyes and tissue. A vitamin E deficiency can cause damage to the nerves and muscles and weaken the immune system. A vitamin E deficiency is not very common, but is caused by an inadequate diet.
- Coenzyme Q10: an antioxidant that helps convert food into energy. As an antioxidant, it fights damaging particles in the body that could cause cancer. A Q10 deficiency is mostly the result of genetic defects and causes neurological issues.
Common symptoms of vitamin deficiency
In the case of a vitamin deficiency, it can take a while before you start to notice any symptoms. In some cases, the deficiency may have been going on for a long time before the symptoms appear. Some general examples of symptoms that can occur with a vitamin deficiency are:
- Fatigue, low energy
- Dry skin and dry hair
The symptoms can vary depending on what vitamin your body is lacking. Different vitamins have different functions and a deficiency can result in different symptoms.
What affects vitamin deficiency?
Stress, pregnancy, dietary intake/diet and age are some factors that can affect our vitamin status.
Who should test for vitamin deficiency?
The vitamin deficiency is suitable for anyone who worries they may not be getting enough nutrients and/or are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with a vitamin deficiency. In such a case it may be wise to consult a doctor and get a vitamin deficiency test.
For people planning to become pregnant, it is important to check their nutritional status, as certain vitamin deficiencies can affect the foetus.
How do you test for vitamin deficiency?
Testing yourself to measure a possible vitamin deficiency is easily done from home via a blood test. The sample is analysed at an ISO-certified and accredited laboratory.
Is vitamin deficiency common?
Vitamin deficiencies are relatively common in the UK, especially folate/folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D in the winter. Deficiency can be affected by factors such as diet, age, medications, pregnancy and sun exposure.
How does the test work?
The test is a blood test that is collected at home via a prick in the finger and then you squeeze out blood which you drip into two different tubes, a tube with a yellow cap and a tube with a red cap. The test must be taken on an empty stomach in the morning. The sample is then sent to the lab for analysis and you will receive your answer digitally as soon as the lab has analysed your sample. Shipping to the lab is included in the price.
How long does it take to get the results?
As soon as the samples have arrived, they will immediately be tested at the lab, so you can expect the test results should be back to you within a week.
When should I take the test?
It is recommended to take the test on an empty stomach in the morning. This way your level has not been influenced by the time of day or intake of food and you can get a better understanding of your vitamin levels.
Where can I test for minerals?
If you also want to test your mineral levels, you can do so via our nutritional test which you can find here.
How can I treat a vitamin deficiency?
Your doctor may prescribe you supplements to get your nutrient levels up again, but there are also different foods you can add to your diet to naturally increase your vitamin levels. Here’s what you can do:
- Vitamin A (retinol): consume vitamin A–rich foods, such as liver, beef, chicken, eggs, fortified milk, tomatoes, and green and orange vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin).
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): consume vitamin B3–rich foods, such as red meat, fish, brown rice, cereals, seeds, bananas, avocados.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): adopt a diet rich in vegetables, meat, fortified cereals, legumes and dairy. Examples include: mushroom, chicken liver or breast, dairy, beef avocados , nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): consume vitamin B7-rich foods such as meat (beef liver, pork), eggs, salmon, avocados, bananas, raspberries, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds. If you have a genetic disorder, you may need biotin supplements.
- Folate (vitamin B9): adopt a diet with lots of green vegetables like turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, and also beans and fresh fruits. Oranges are especially high in folate. To help raise your folate levels, it is also important to reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12): include vitamin b12-fortified grains in your diet, as well as animal products like meat, eggs, dairy and seafood (clams, sardines, tuna).
- Vitamin D3 (25OH): increase your sun exposure and take in foods containing vitamin D3 such as fatty fish, spinach, bananas, mushrooms, and (soy)milk.
- Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): adopt a diet rich in leafy vegetables (like spinach), fortified cereals, whole grains, nuts and seeds, sunflower (seeds), peanuts and almonds.
- Coenzyme Q10: adopt a diet rich in vegetables, fruits (strawberries, oranges), legumes (soybeans). Especially fatty fish, (organ) meats, nuts and seeds contain high levels of CoQ10.
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