How Vitamin D May Help Take the Edge Off Fibromyalgia Pain
Among the various nutritional deficiencies plaguing our country, vitamin D deficiency appears to be on the rise in the United States. According to data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006, the overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency was nearly 42%.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to various negative health outcomes and chronic conditions, including elevated blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders like MS and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and more. Researches have also questioned the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia.
In a recent study of women suffering from fibromyalgia, researchers found that approximately 61% of the participants had a vitamin D deficiency. While vitamin D deficiency is not what causes fibromyalgia, researchers have noticed that many fibromyalgia sufferers have lower levels of the important vitamin, which may contribute to some of their symptoms.
For fibromyalgia patients who do have a deficiency of vitamin D, new research suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be a cost-effective way to reduce pain and fatigue. In a study last year on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on women with FMS and low levels of vitamin D, patients in the treatment group reported significant improvements in pain and morning fatigue. By comparison, the placebo group did not report any improvements.
Other Benefits of Vitamin D
Besides the potential to help reduce pain and fatigue in vitamin D deficient fibromyalgia patients, vitamin D also provides a host of other benefits related to overall health and well-being. Here are a few of the key benefits of getting enough vitamin D:
Boosts Mental Clarity
One of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia is “fibro fog”, which can manifest itself through cognitive difficulties. These difficulties often include trouble concentrating, memory loss and sometimes difficulty speaking. Vitamin D may help boost your mental performance and reduce memory loss, according to two recent studies.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge noted higher levels of cognitive function in patients with higher levels of vitamin D. A study by the University of Manchester also showed test subjects with higher levels of vitamin D performed better than other subjects in tests that measure cognitive performance.
Supports the Immune System
For anyone suffering from a chronic illness like fibromyalgia, the immune system is under constant duress. Under this constant and often intense stress, the immune system needs all the help it can get to remain strong and fight off disease. Vitamin D helps play a support role in keeping the immune system strong.
According to an article titled “Vitamin D & the Immune System” by Cynthia Aranow of Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, “Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. As immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D, the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond the effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.”
May Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Vitamin D helps may help regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes. While there is still conflicting evidence and researchers have yet to show that vitamin D can actually prevent diabetes, higher levels of vitamin D have been linked to a reduced risk of developing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
May Reduce Risk of Cancer
In an article on the role of vitamin D in cancer prevention, Cedric Garland of the University of California writes, “Strong evidence indicates that intake or synthesis of vitamin D is associated with reduced incidence and death rates of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers. More than 1000 laboratory and epidemiological studies have been published concerning the association between vitamin D and its metabolites and cancer. Long-term studies have demonstrated the efficacy of moderate intake of vitamin D in reducing cancer risk.”
While vitamin D may not reduce pain and fatigue for all fibromyalgia patients, it may prove beneficial for those suffering from a deficiency of the “sunshine vitamin”. In addition to helping reduce pain and fatigue among those with low levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream, it also promotes other healthy outcomes, including reducing the risk of cancer, regulating blood sugar levels, building strong bones, supporting the immune system and boosting mental performance.
Did a vitamin D deficiency play any role in exacerbating your fibromyalgia symptoms? If so, what effects did vitamin D supplementation have on the severity of your pain and fatigue? Join the conversation and share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page!