D Deficiency Linked to Chronic Pain

Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency.

Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency.

Some reports suggest nearly half the world’s population suffers from vitamin D deficiency, which is unsettling news given that a lack of vitamin D has been associated with a host of serious conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis and even depression, not to mention brittle bones and the common cold.

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods, including fish-liver oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks and liver. In the US, however, vitamin D is commonly added to food products, including milk. Another way to get vitamin D in the body is through sunlight. The best way to increase vitamin D levels is through supplementation.

The latest data suggests that vitamin D deficiency may also be linked with chronic pain. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 76.2 million, one in every four Americans, have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours and millions more suffer from acute pain. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability.

A new study found that subjects with a vitamin D deficiency were more than twice as likely to experience chronic widespread pain, compared with those who had the highest levels. After following up with subjects an average of 4.3 years later, the researchers found that 1 in 15 men who had no symptoms at the start of the study developed chronic widespread pain, and these men were more likely to be obese, physically inactive, depressed and experience other health conditions.

“Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency,” said lead researcher Paul McCabe. “What is less clear is whether vitamin D deficiency has a role in explaining more common chronic pain symptoms including chronic widespread pain.”

McCabe notes that, though their study uncovers the relationship between vitamin D and the development of chronic widespread pain, further research is needed to determine whether treating vitamin d deficiency could prevent chronic pain from even developing.