Well, here is another curious possibility for chronic pain treatment, Vitamin D. While many research studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to muscle weakness and pain, more research is needed to support treating it with the “sunshine” vitamin. It does seem based on the studies, however, that many people who do suffer from chronic pain do have a Vitamin D deficiency. And the Mayo Clinic has recognized that patients were taking higher doses of prescription pain medication if they also had insufficient Vitamin D levels. Unfortunately again, as with most back pain treatments, whether supplementing Vitamin D will help your pain will basically be hit or miss.
If you are concerned, your doctor can run a simple blood test to determine if you are deficient and help you with an appropriate solution based on your particular levels. Because vitamins, including D, can interact with prescription drugs, also check with your medical provider before using any supplements. Even though this site specifically addresses back pain issues, it is important to note that inadequate Vitamin D levels is linked to many very serious conditions including rickets or severe asthma in children as well as osteomalacia (bone softening), cardiovascular disease and even cancer, among many others, in adults.
Did You Know?
- You may be especially at risk if your exposure to sunlight is insufficient, you’re of a dark-skinned race, you are obese, you are unable to absorb the vitamin due to age or other medical problems (like cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s or celiac disease) or you are not consuming enough from the foods you eat.
- The Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily intake of 400 IUs for babies under 12 months, 600 IUs for children and adults (including pregnant and breast-feeding women) up to age 70, 800 IUs for 71 and above. However, many medical experts believe the adult dosage should be 1000 IUs daily.
- If you are found to be considerably deficient, your doctor might prescribe something like 50,000 IUs to be taken once per week or every other week for 6-12 weeks.
- Vitamin D helps us: maintain strong bones; absorb calcium; protect older adults from osteoporosis; send nerve messages to the brain; muscle movement; and to fight off harmful bacteria that can effect our immune systems.
- Either Vitamin D2 or D3 can be used to achieve sufficient levels. We get exposure to D2 through natural sunlight (see the graphic below) but only the only food source is certain mushrooms that have been exposed to ultra-violet light.
- D3 is found in only a handful of foods. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna and cod liver oil but it can also be found in smaller amounts in fortified milk, cereal or orange juice, egg yolks, some soy beverages, certain cheeses, margarine or beef liver.
- You cannot overdose on Vitamin D through sun exposure but you can through overuse of supplements which can lead to life-threatening toxicity in some cases.
Image Credit: By OpenStax College [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
What are your thoughts about Vitamin D and Back Pain?