You have been identified as having a low level of vitamin D on your latest blood test. This is a common vitamin deficiency in the UK, particularly during the winter months, due to lack of sunlight. Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to muscle aches and bone pain, or it may not cause any symptoms at all. It is important to correct the deficiency as Vitamin D plays an important part in regulating levels of calcium and phosphate in the body, which helps keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
The treatment is very simple but there are two treatment options, depending on how low your vitamin D level is. One of our receptionists will advise you (following direction from one of our doctors or clinical pharmacists) which treatment category you fall into.
Treatment Option One
If your vitamin D level is particularly low, or you have symptoms, you will be advised to collect a prescription of high dose vitamin D tablets (20,000 international units per tablet). You should only take one of these tablets per week for six weeks in total (do not take daily).
Once you have completed the six-week course, you will need to have a blood test to check your calcium level (please arrange this with reception).
The high dose tablets will top up your levels rapidly. However, in order to maintain a normal level of vitamin D in the blood and prevent further deficiency, you will then need to take 800 international units of vitamin D (colecalciferol) daily on an indefinite basis. You can buy these over the counter in any pharmacy.
If the results of your six-week blood test were normal, then you do not need any further blood tests or monitoring in the future. The national guidance is to continue taking a low dose vitamin D supplement long term.
Treatment Option Two
If your vitamin D level is only mildly low or you don’t have any symptoms, then you do not need to take high dose vitamin D. All you need to do is buy a vitamin D supplement over the counter at a pharmacy. You should take colecalciferol (vitamin D) 800 international units once daily, on an indefinite basis, to maintain a normal level and prevent future deficiency.
Please arrange a blood test six weeks after you start taking the tablets to make sure your calcium level is normal. You can arrange this with reception.
Important for all patients
Please note the following:
- If you are taking Digoxin, then you may need a blood test to monitor your Digoxin levels while taking vitamin D supplements. This is very important. Please ask for a telephone appointment with a GP to discuss this.
- Vitamin D should not be taken by patients with high levels of calcium in the blood. If you have been told that you have a high level of calcium, then please arrange a routine telephone appointment with a GP before taking vitamin D tablets.
- Vitamin D deficiency is common and does not usually need discussion with a GP. If you do have any further questions, then please look at the nhs.uk website which has an excellent webpage on Vitamin D deficiency. If you still have further questions or concerns, then please ask reception to book you a routine telephone appointment with our Clinical Pharmacist, Mr Shafiq Mohamedtaqi, who will be happy to assist you.