The early detection test for vitamin D deficiency has an “unclear” benefit. Who does not benefit from it: People without deficiency symptoms who live independently at home. The IGeL monitor reports this.
The early detection examination on a Vitamin D Deficiency has an “unclear” utility. Who does not benefit from it: People without deficiency symptoms who live independently at home. The IGeL monitor reports this. He evaluates self-payer 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 for bone health. Whether the risk of developing other serious diseases, such as infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, is related to a vitamin D deficiency has not been proven and is a matter of debate among researchers.
People who are often outdoors produce more vitamin D
Vitamin D is only ingested to a very small extent through food, 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 respect, the production of vitamin D depends on various factors.
Due to longer and more intense solar radiation in summer, the conditions are more favorable than in the darker winter months. People who spend most of their time outdoors can 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. A lack of vitamin D over a long period of time can lead to disorders in the bone formation process in adults or promote osteoporosis, in which the bone substance is reduced.
Measuring vitamin D status is a self-pay service
The individual health service “Early detection examination for vitamin D deficiency” is often offered or requested by patients. In the IGeL Report 2020, it was one of the 20 most common self-payer services. Medical practices also offer them in combination with other vitamin determinations – as a so-called “vitamin check” -, sometimes supplemented by a vitamin supplement afterwards.
The vitamin D status is determined from a blood sample. The laboratory costs for a vitamin D determination are between 27.98 euros and 32.18 euros for insured persons. In addition, there are costs for the medical consultation and the blood test, according to a press release.
Who benefits from the early detection test for vitamin D
The scientific team at the IGeL-Monitor did not find any studies that directly examined whether such screening is beneficial in adults with no signs of vitamin D deficiency. However, there are studies examining the effects of vitamin D intake in people with low vitamin D levels but no signs of vitamin D deficiency.
It turned out that people living independently at home did not benefit from this. Only older individuals, such as those living in medical or nursing facilities, appear to benefit slightly from vitamin D supplementation. You may therefore benefit from the early detection examination for vitamin D deficiency.
The direct harms of vitamin D screening do not go beyond the risks of a blood draw. Nevertheless, 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 as a secondary factor in the assessment of the IGeL monitor, because the diagnosis of a vitamin D deficiency is not as threatening compared to other diseases.