Vitamin D and Chronic Pain

Some recent studies are showing that how much Vitamin D you have in your system may be connected to certain types of chronic pain, notably osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture supported a study that indicates if you’re not getting adequate Vitamin D in your diet, you may be at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, which affects nearly 28 million Americans. It is a degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common from middle age onward. It causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

The scientists looked at a subset of data collected during a longitudinal study called the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), which is a large study of individuals with, or at risk of, knee osteoarthritis. The researchers focused on 418 volunteers for whom blood serum concentrations of vitamin D were available and for who radiographs to assess knee osteoarthritis progression were available. The volunteers were followed for 4 years and monitored for knee osteoarthritis progression and vitamin D levels in their blood.

Compared to volunteers with healthy levels, participants with low vitamin D levels had more than doubled the risk of their knee osteoarthritis worsening during the study. The scientists concluded that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for increased knee osteoarthritis progression and that increased, adequate dietary intake may be beneficial for those with knee osteoarthritis.

The same may be true for sufferers of fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas.

A group of Korean researchers shared their results that found low levels of Vitamin D may be common in fibromyalgia patients. They injected cholecalciferol (vitamin d3) in the muscles every four weeks for three times and found pain and fatigue decreased.

The paper was presented at the European League against Rheumatism Annual European Congress in Rome.

Low levels of vitamin D have been reported in patients with inflammatory rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Vitamin D is acquired either from dietary sources of from exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which converts the precursors in the skin into cholecalciferol.

If you are looking for ways to increase your Vitamin D intake, the best source is sunlight. That makes some dermatologists nervous given the risk for skin cancer, but it’s by far the best source of Vitamin D.

In addition, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, fortified milk and egg yolks are other sources of Vitamin D.

And of course, you may also buy Vitamin D supplements to augment your intake.

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