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Vitamin D Test

British Columbia Specific Information

Calcium is important to building strong, healthy bones and your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. The amount of calcium and Vitamin D you need each day depends on your age and if you are male or female. Fortified food is the best source of vitamin D and calcium.

For more information about vitamin D, including a list of what foods contain vitamin D, see HealthLinkBC File #68n Vitamin D and Your Health. To learn more about calcium and foods that contain calcium, see HealthLinkBC File #68e Calcium and Your Health. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.

Test Overview

A vitamin D test measures the amount of vitamin D in the blood. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Calcium keeps your bones and muscles healthy and strong.

If your muscles don't get enough calcium, they can cramp, hurt, or feel weak. You may have long-term (chronic) muscle aches and pains. If you don't get enough vitamin D throughout life, you are more likely to have thin and brittle bones (osteoporosis) in your later years.

Children who don't get enough vitamin D may not grow as much as others their age. They also have a chance of getting a rare disease called rickets.

Your body uses sunshine to make its own vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, and saltwater fish. It is also added to many food products, such as milk, orange juices, yogurts, margarines, and soy beverages. You can also get it as a natural health product, often combined with calcium.

Vitamin D recommendations vary from province to province. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin D you need. Health Canada and Osteoporosis Canada recommend that Canadian adults take daily vitamin D supplements.

The vitamin D test is also called the 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or 25(OH)D, test.

Why It Is Done

You may need this test if you:

How To Prepare

There is nothing to do to prepare for this test.

How It Is Done

Your health professional drawing blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.


There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.


A vitamin D test measures the amount of vitamin D in the blood.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Vitamin Dfootnote 1


50–150 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) or 30–80 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL)

High values

High levels of vitamin D can be caused by:

  • William's syndrome. This is a genetic problem that causes growth delays before and after birth.
  • Taking too many vitamin D supplements.

Low values

Low levels of vitamin D can be caused by:

  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver disease.
  • Not getting enough sunlight.
  • Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet.

What Affects the Test

Medicines that may decrease vitamin D levels include:

  • Orlistat. Examples include Xenical. This is a weight-loss medicine.
  • Cholestyramine. Examples include Olestyr. This medicine lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Phenytoin. Examples include Dilantin. This medicine prevents seizures.

What To Think About

  • Vitamin D levels may change from spring and summer to fall and winter. Less sunlight in the fall and winter may cause lower vitamin D levels.
  • A test with a similar name is the 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D test. This test does not give a good measurement of vitamin D levels.



  1. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2011). Vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D). In Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed., pp. 543–547. St. Louis: Mosby.


Current as of:
May 27, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine