Pain-Topics.org – According to an extensive review of clinical research, inadequate vitamin D intake has been linked to a long list of illnesses with chronic pain , including bone and joint pain of various types, muscle pain, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorders, osteoarthritis, and other complaints. Lack of vitamin D also has been implicated in the mood disturbances of chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.
According to Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, editor of Pain Treatment Topics and author of the review, “our examination of the research, including 22 clinical investigations of patients with various chronic pain and fatigue syndromes, found that these persons almost always had inadequate levels of vitamin D. When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, the aches, pains, weakness, and related problems in most of them either vanished or were at least helped to a significant extent.”
The report, “Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” was peer-reviewed by a panel of 8 experts and includes the following important points:
• Vitamin D is a complex nutrient that functions as a hormone to benefit numerous body tissues and organs, including bones, muscles, and nerves.
• A surprising majority of persons in many parts of the world, including the United States, do not get adequate vitamin D from sun exposure or foods. Why such deficiencies are associated with pain in some persons but not others is not always known.
• The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D – up to 600 IU per day – is outdated and too low. According to the research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain would benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol).
• Vitamin D supplements have a highly favorable safety profile. They interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless extremely high doses – such as, 50,000 IU or more – are taken daily for an extended period of time.
• Vitamin D supplements are easy for patients to self-administer, are well tolerated, and typically cost as little as 7 to 10 cents per day.
Besides the comprehensive Vitamin D Research Report (50 pages, 170 references), there is available a shorter Vitamin D Practitioner Briefing (7 pages) that summarizes the report and provides guidance for healthcare providers. Additionally, a special Patient Brochure (6 pages) explains what vitamin D is, how it works, and how it may help in relieving pain.
All 3 documents are available as free PDF downloads at:
Vitamin D and chronic musculoskeletal pain
In conclusion, Leavitt stresses that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all pain conditions and in all patients. It also is not necessarily a replacement for other pain treatments. “While further research would be helpful,” he says, “current best evidence indicates that recommending supplemental vitamin D for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorders would do no harm and could do much good at little cost. [Vitamin D] should be considered by healthcare providers for their patients early in the course of pain management.”