Vitamins are an important part of our daily nutrition to maintain overall health. Deficits in vitamins can cause deterioration of health, which can be manifested by a number of symptoms. Initially, the symptoms may go unnoticed. So, people with a high risk of vitamin deficiency or symptoms of vitamin deficiency should regularly check their vitamin levels.
The best way to check vitamin levels is to consult your doctor regarding your symptoms or risks and get the vitamin levels checked in a laboratory. However, if you do not have access to health care or are unable to go to the lab, you can get your vitamin levels tested at home. If you are diagnosed with vitamin deficiency, you should consult your doctor, and they might prescribe you supplements or advise a specialist referral.
In the article, we have explained some home-based tests that can be performed in 2022 for the diagnosis of vitamin deficiency.
Who Should Consider At-Home Vitamin Deficiency Tests?
Home-based vitamin deficiency tests cannot be considered an alternative to lab-based tests done with a doctor's advice. However, if you do not have access to health facilities or if you are not able to go to the hospital, you can get your vitamin level tests done at home. The test is generally required when you have symptoms associated with vitamin deficiency or risks associated with vitamin deficiency.
Some of the risk factors for vitamin deficiency are:
- Lack of proper nutrition
- People at the extremes of age
- Pregnant women
- Lack of access to proper sunlight
- Institutionalized people
- People with chronic diseases
- People with diseases affecting gastrointestinal absorption
How to Determine the Suitable Test?
There are certain things to consider before buying the test online, to find the most suitable test for you.
The specific vitamin that the test is used for: Most of the tests measure a panel of vitamins that are commonly deficient. However, there are certain tests that only measure specific vitamins. In such a situation, you should confirm which vitamin you want to test for.
The procedure involved: Some tests involve pricking to measure vitamin levels in the blood, and other tests measure vitamin levels in non-invasive ways. So, if you have a needle phobia, you can search for an alternative procedure for the test.
Reliability of the test: You can confirm the reliability of the test results by checking the quality certifications of the test and whether the test results are further checked by an independent professional.
Time required for a test result: The time required for the test to give results might differ, and you can choose a test type according to your urgency. However, there might be a higher price for faster and more reliable results.
- Affordability: The price of the tests varies according to various factors like quality and timing. So, you can choose a test according to your requirements. However, at-home tests are usually more expensive than conventional lab-based tests.
At-home vitamin deficiency tests
Here is the list of some at-home vitamin deficiency tests, explained on the basis of the type of nutrients they are used for.
Test for B Vitamins
- EverlyWell B Vitamins Test: The test is done by taking a small amount of blood from your fingertip through the available lancet. The test measures commonly deficient vitamins such as vitamin B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12.
These vitamins are deficient in people consuming a plant-based diet, and the common symptoms associated with them are fatigue, tingling or burning sensations, and mood changes.
After you send your sample for the test, it is processed in certified labs, and the results are further verified by an independent medical doctor for accuracy, The independent doctor is board certified and from your state of residence. Then, your results are provided to you through your confidential account. Hence, these are ways through which the test maintains its quality and confidentiality.
- LetsGetChecked Vitamin B12 Test: The test measures the level of vitamin B12 by taking a sample of your blood through a finger prick. They also provide a guide video for taking the sample. After the sample is sent, you will get your results within 2 to 5 days, through a confidential route. The results are also checked by an independent medical doctor.
People consuming a vegan diet without adequate vitamin B12 supplementation are at risk of deficiency. The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are fatigue, a burning or tingling sensation, mood changes, and palpitations. There is also a subscription service to test every 3 months if you fall under the risk group for vitamin B12 deficiency.
Test for vitamin D
- EverlyWell Vitamin D and Inflammation Test: The test kit measures the level of vitamin D and C-reactive protein, which is associated with inflammatory disorders and indicates the risk of heart disease.
A blood sample is collected by a finger prick and the sample is sent for processing to the certified lab. The results are cross-checked by an independent doctor as in the EverlyWell B vitamin test. The company also offers free webinars, which you can assess according to your test results, to get a better understanding of your condition.
The results of the test may take days to weeks. So, it is not a suitable test if you need your results urgently.
Test for multiple vitamins and nutrients
- LetsGetChecked Micronutrient Test: The kit offers tests for multiple vitamins and micronutrients, which are listed below:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium
The test is useful if the symptoms involve multiple systems and cannot be explained by a specific vitamin deficiency. Some of the symptoms associated with these micronutrient deficiencies are skin lesions, mood changes, hair loss, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain.
The test is done by a fingerprick and sent to the lab for evaluation. The process is similar to that of the LetsGetChecked vitamin B12 test, but the LetsGetChecked Micronutrient Test does not check vitamin B12 levels in people of an age group of fewer than 22 years. Additionally, the test is expensive in comparison to other alternatives.
- Rootine Blood Vitamin Test: It is an affordable alternative to get checked for multiple vitamin deficiencies. Furthermore, it also provides results within 3 days and can be a better alternative if you need your results urgently. The kit offers tests for the following vitamins and nutrients:
- Vitamin B2, B6, B9, and B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Alpha-lipoic acid
The sample is taken from the fingertip by pricking with the available kits and sent to the lab, The results are processed within 3 days. The results are shared through a confidential account.
What to do after you get your results?
If the test results are negative and you continue to have symptoms of vitamin deficiency, then you need to see your doctor. Your doctor might order further tests to diagnose the cause of the symptoms or may reorder the tests in the appropriate lab facility.
If the test results come out positive, you should talk to your doctor before taking supplements on your own. There might be various causes of vitamin deficiencies, and the cause must also be treated along with the deficiency. Additionally, some deficiencies can be treated by oral supplements, but some deficiencies, like vitamin B12 deficiency due to intrinsic factor deficiency, require injectable vitamin supplements.
Therefore, you should not start treatment on your own and always consider seeing a doctor. If a nutritional deficiency is identified as the cause of vitamin deficiency, you might also be referred to a nutritionist to fulfill the nutritional requirement.
Pros and Cons of At-home Vitamin Deficiency Tests
If you are considering using a home-based vitamin deficiency test, you also should understand the pros and cons of using the test.
- It is more convenient to get the test results from home.
- The results are confidential.
- You can do the test if there are no labs or health practices near your residence.
- It is easy to use, and finger pricks are less painful.
- You can choose the tests according to your requirements.
- An at-home test is more expensive.
- You should still visit your doctor if the tests come positive or if you have symptoms, despite negative results.
- Some test results take more time.
Vitamins are important micronutrients with multiple health benefits, and their deficiencies are associated with certain symptoms that indicate the need for healthcare consultation. However, if you are unable to go to the health care facility, there are home-based vitamin deficiency tests that are accurate and reliable.
The tests are convenient and easy to perform, but they can be expensive. Also, you need to see your doctor if the tests come back positive. So, you need to consider your situation and find out whether you should go for a home-based vitamin deficiency test.
- CDC’s second nutrition report: A comprehensive biochemical assessment of the nutrition status of the U.S. population. (n.d.).https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/4page_%202nd%20nutrition%20report_508_032912.pdf
- Find all FDA-approved home and lab tests. (2017). https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/tests-used-clinical-care/find-all-fda-approved-home-and-lab-tests
- Okan, F., Okan, S., & Zincir, H. (2020). Effect of sunlight exposure on vitamin D status of individuals living in a nursing home and their own homes. Journal of Clinical Densitometry, 23(1), 21-28.