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What is vitamin D dried blood spot testing?

Posted on: December 3, 2014   by  John Cannell, MD


The Vitamin D Council has entered into an agreement with Heartland Assays to begin offering a $50.00 in-home vitamin D blood test to measure vitamin D levels [25(OH)D] using dried blood spot (DBS) cards. This is the cheapest vitamin D in-home test kit currently available in the United States.

For those who don’t know, Heartland Assays is a company run by Drs. Ron Horst and Bruce Hollis that measures 25(OH)D levels for many large national studies of vitamin D.Heartland Assays is CLIA and CAP certified and participates in the vitamin D DEQAS proficiency testing scheme.

The dried blood spot method of measuring 25(OH)D vitamin D levels is both reliable and reproducible, according to a recent study.

Heath AK, Williamson EJ, Ebeling PR, Kvaskoff D, Eyles DW, English DR. Measurements of 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in archived dried blood spots are reliable and accurately reflect those in plasma. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Sep;99(9):3319-24.

The authors compared blood collected from the vein and compared it to DBS and found an excellent correlation (R=.82) between the two. Then they measured the same sample twice and found the DBS method was reproducible. This means the DBS method is an accurate reflection of actual 25(OH)D levels.

This is how it will work. You can go to the new page on the Vitamin D Council’s website, http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/testkit/, and select the number of test kits you want to buy. Then you will create a username and password, or use your existing membership details, and pay using a credit card or PayPal.

You will be issued a unique number that will be printed on your DBS card which will be sent to you together with everything you need to collect the sample. You mail it to Heartland Assays in a preaddressed and prepaid postage envelope. (Do not put your name on the DBS card; if you do Heartland will not process your test.)

After allowing 5 days for Heartland to get your DBS, Heartland will measure your 25(OH)D and send the result to us electronically using your unique identification number within 7-14 days. Then you will be notified by email when your results are ready and you just need to log in to view your results.

We are excited about the launch of these test kits. The price they are offered at, coupled with the research-based evidence supporting the accuracy of these types of tests, means that in-home vitamin D testing is an affordable and convenient method to measuring your levels and determining if you are vitamin D deficient.

3 Responses to What is vitamin D dried blood spot testing?

  1. Ron Carmichael

    I encourage any pharmacists to consider offering these in their stores, in order to assist those people unable to fingerstick themselves and apply the drops to the blotter. You would need to register online the person getting the test for them, but most senior citizens would probably not be able to do that, anyway (if they are like my 80+ y.o. parents 🙂 ). Dad won’t go anywhere near a smartphone or “the interthang”. Anyway, for independent pharmacies, this is right in line with the philosophy of promoting health above and beyond the big box stores…

  2. Ron Carmichael

    PS: people reading this article are able to do so because Dr. Cannell posted it “in the open”. (Only) If you are a subscribing member to the Council, you can view a large compendium of reviews and evaluations of studies regarding vitamin D and a host of disease states.
    While written so the layperson can understand the gist of the study, the level of objectivity and accuracy lends itself to healthcare professionals being able to make informed decisions regarding their own practices and attitudes about the relevance of vitamin D. This site is a form of continuing education, covering things that they never taught in pharmacy school!!

  3. Richard Lakein

    The new test kit is great, but you are competing with your friends at GrassrootsHealth.org. Their blood-spot test costs a little more ($65 or $60 plus $5 shipping), but you participate in their long-term data-gathering study on supplementation dose and blood levels. They also require participants to fill in a health survey.

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