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Could vitamin D help manage pain?

2 min read

A review of existing research published in the 'Journal of Endocrinology' has looked at the relationship between vitamin D levels, sleep and pain managements and has concluded that levels of vitamin D combined with good quality sleep could help manage pain related conditions such as arthritis, menstrual cramps and chronic back pain.

Vitamin D works to help many pain-related conditions by tackling inflammation in the body

Inflammation is the body's immune response to illness, the process triggers the release of more proteins which make people more sensitive to pain and allow it to last longer. Vitamin D works to help many pain-related conditions by tackling inflammation in the body.

Lead author of the review, Dr Monica Levy Andersen, said: "We can hypothesise that suitable vitamin D supplementation combined with sleep hygiene may optimise the therapeutic management of pain-related diseases, such as fibromyalgia."

The editor of the paper Dr Sof Andrikopoulos, added: "This research is very exciting and novel. We are unraveling the possible mechanisms of how vitamin D is involved in many complex processes, including what this review shows – that a good night's sleep and normal levels of vitamin D could be an effective way to manage pain."

Nearly a third of the British population are vitamins D deficient

It is now well documented that vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent problem - nearly a third of the British population are deficient in fact. This is down to a number of factors including a lack of time spent outdoors, not enough sunny weather and poor diet.

During the spring and summer months its relatively easy to top up your vitamin D levels - it takes just 10-15 minutes of sunshine per day on your skin to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D. This is almost impossible to achieve in the autumn and winter months so the shortfall needs to be made up by eating food high in the vitamin such as liver, eggs, red meat and oily fish.

Taking supplements instead can help with musculoskeletal pain, such as chronic back pain

The review refers to a number of studies showing that taking supplements instead can help with musculoskeletal pain, such as chronic back pain. A meta-analysis from 2016 found people in hospital reduced their pain after 12 weeks of vitamin D pills.

Dr Brian Hammond, chairman of UK charity Backcare, said: 'This exciting review of the research involving vitamin D, sleep and pain will hopefully help the millions of sufferers of low back and neck pain, as well as patients suffering from chronic pain from other conditions like fibromyalgia.

Vitamin D works for autoimmune diseases by disrupting making as less sensitive to pain

A study from two years previously assessed the effect of vitamin D supplements on pain experienced by sufferers of fibromyalgia - participants ranked their 'pain score' lower over the weeks after starting taking supplements. People with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis also saw their pain reduced. It is claimed by the authors that vitamin D works for these autoimmune diseases by disrupting the pathways within the immune system which make us sensitive to pain, ultimately raising our pain threshold.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.