Topeka (WIBW) - Something our bodies get from the sun is the focus of a lot of buzz right now.
New research has vitamin D playing a role in a whole host of health issues. It's no wonder, then, that more doctors want patients tested to see if they have enough.
Stormont-Vail HealthCare Lab Manager Shelley D'Attilio estimates a four-fold increase in requests for vitamin D tests in the past two years. Until recently, they all had to be sent to an outside lab. But now, Stormont has the Evolese, a machine to do the testing right on site.
D'Attilio says vitamin D is often done as part of regular lab work, so it makes sense to be able to do all the work at once, plus, get all the results in a more timely fashion by not having to wait for results to come back from an outside lab.
The test involves taking blood, which is then dropped into a special tray with several small wells, coated with an antibody. The antigen, vitamin D, will react with the antibody to create a color change, indicating the vitamin D level present.
The main way we produce vitamin D is through sun exposure. Doctors recommend ten to fifteen minutes a day on unprotected arms or your neck. Foods like milk are fortified with it.
Doctors have long known its importance for strong bones, but now are learning its role in healthy cell function. Some researchers have found a link between low vitamin D, heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
Low vitamin D is common, so being able to test on-site can give an answer more quickly that can give people a piece of the picture of their overall health. If it's low, D'Attilio says, a person can take a supplement and hopefull reap the benefits reasearch is touting.