Vitamin D Deficiency Linked To Chronic Pain


Paul McCabe et al from the University of Manchester analysed data from the European Male Ageing Study and found that men with vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to experience ongoing widespread pain over the next 4 years as those with high levels of vitamin D. It was noted that the men with chronic widespread pain were more likely to be physically active, obese, depressed and to have other health problems. Once these other factors were taken into account the link between vitamin D and pain disappeared.

However, John McBeth et al analysed data from the same study and found that even after adjusting for other health factors, pain remained moderately associated with increased odds of having low vitamin D levels. This is supported by a 5-year longitudinal study published last year by Laura Laslett et al in which vitamin D deficiency was found to predict incidence or worsening of knee pain and hip pain.

There seems to be a link between a deficiency of vitamin D and pain but could supplementation with vitamin D help to decrease pain? Between 2008 and 2010, Shreuder et al conducted a study in Holland and they did indeed find a small positive benefit (less pain and better function) after taking a high dose of vitamin D for 6 weeks.

What could the mechanism behind vitamin D and pain be? Tague et al found that vitamin D deficiency in rats can lead to a hyperinnervation of skeletal muscle which is likely to contribute to muscle hypersensitivity and pain.

Vitamin D is naturally present in a few dietary sources such as fish oils, mushrooms, eggs and liver. Other than supplements, sunlight exposure is the best source of vitamin D for most of people.