Increased levels of vitamin D may help reduce alcohol-related myopathy

Vitamin D deficiency is often linked to myopathy, a muscle disease characterized by inflammation and chronic weakness. Recent research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research noted that chronic alcohol intake can lead to low levels of vitamin D, which may be the cause of myopathy that is common in alcoholics.

“It seems that 40 to 60 percent of alcoholics suffer from alcohol-related myopathy,” said Frits A. J. Muskiet, Ph.D., a professor of pathophysiology and clinical chemical analysis at the University Medical Center Groningen. “Many subjects with chronic alcoholism have low vitamin D, which prompted the authors to raise the question whether the well-known muscle weakness might be caused by vitamin D deficiency.”

Muskiet went on to report that the symptoms that someone has who is vitamin D deficient and those experienced by someone who drinks excessively are notably similar, which caused the researchers to make a link between the two. He noted that this correlation could possibly be explained by the fact that people who abuse alcohol tend to have skewed diets and less money to spend on nutritious food.  While this may result in mineral and vitamin deficiencies, there is no concrete evidence to back up these ties. Furthermore, the investigators saw some variations between alcohol-related myopathy and vitamin D deficiency-related myopathy.

During the research, the authors analyzed articles on vitamin D deficiency-related myopathy and alcoholic-related myopathy published between 1985 and 2011. They noted that this is one of the first studies to look at a link between the two causal factors, whereas past studies have not reported a correlation between dietary deficiencies and alcoholism in regard to muscle disease. Muskiet reported that the next step is to start research trials to lend credence to these findings.

Another one of the study authors, Jan W. Wijnia, M.D., also suggested further research to explore the benefits of vitamin D and how much people need for maximum beneficial results.

Vitamin D deficiency
Other at-risk groups for vitamin D deficiency include people who live in cold climates who do not get a lot of exposure to sunlight and people who work indoors during the daytime, reports the National Institutes of Health. Some detrimental side effects include pain and tenderness in the arms, legs, pelvis and spine, dental deformities, impaired growth, muscle cramps and skeletal deformities.

People can get vitamin D from fortified cereals and milks as well as a Skinny D supplement from Dr. Newton’s Natural’s.

Myopathy facts
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the muscle inflammation that causes myopathy may be caused by allergic reactions, exposure to a toxic substance or another disease such as cancer or a virus. Some scientists believe that the disorder is an autoimmune condition caused by the white blood cells attacking the blood vessels, normal muscle fibers, tissues, organs, bones and joints.

To diagnose myopathy, a healthcare professional may look at a patient’s medical history, conduct a muscle strength test or analyze a person’s enzymes and antibodies via a blood test. A healthcare provider may also utilize ultrasound and MRI technology to look for inflammation and muscle disease.

The NINDS notes that chronic inflammatory myopathy cannot be cured, but there are therapies for adults to alleviate the symptoms. These include medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat therapy, orthotics and other assistive devices. The myopathic conditions that result from exposure to toxins or allergens usually subside when the patient is no longer exposed to them. A corticosteroid may be used to combat the two forms of myopathy: polymyositis and dermatomyositis, while azathioprine and methotrexate may also be administered to quell the inflammation.

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