Vitamin D and Chronic Pain

  • The relationship between vitamin D and chronic pain has been a topic of debate. Some studies have suggested that a low level of vitamin D causes chronic pain. But in a recent review about vitamin D and chronic pain soon to be published in Pain, Oxford researchers concluded that the available medical evidence "does not allow us to conclude that vitamin D is relevant to chronic pain".

     

    One of the most compelling arguments against the idea that low vitamin D causes pain is the fact that those people who are in higher latitudes (therefore, less sunlight and less natural vitamin D production in the body) did not have a higher incidence of chronic pain. Furthermore, well designed studies did not conclusively demonstrate the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for chronic pain. One of the problems in studying vitamin D supplementation is that nobody seems to know the right dose. Some recommend low intensity treatment with 1000IU per day, some recommend high intensity treatment of 5000IU per day. At this time, we do know that vitamin D is essential to bone health and has a role in treating bone pain. But, that is the extent of the current evidence in favor of vitamin D deficiency treatment.

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    In regards to dietary supplementation, one must realize that the body is capable of producing vitamin D with adequate sunlight exposure. Because of the concern about skin cancer, this society may not be getting enough sunlight exposure which may be the reason that there have been more vitamin D deficiency cases lately. Thus, dietary supplementation with vitamin D is becoming more popular. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that vitamin D is a "fat soluble" compound which means that it should be taken with a fat containing meal. Otherwise, the vitamin D is not well absorbed by the body. A common recommended amount of vitamin D is 1000IU per day (which is nearly three times the standard daily allowance seen on vitamin bottles of 400IU) for those who do not have a known deficiency. Vitamin D intoxication has been reported, so one should check with her doctor first about starting any dietary supplementation.

     

    Is vitamin D the answer to everything? No, but good nutrition with the right combination of nutritional supplements is a great step in the right direction.

Published On: April 01, 2009