Vitamin D Supplements Could Help Pain Management

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases, according to a new analysis published in the Journal of Endocrinology (2017;234:R23-R36). The researchers specifically cited arthritis, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia and chronic back pain as conditions that can benefit from appropriate levels of vitamin D in combination with regular quality sleep.

Monica Levy Andersen, PhD, and her colleagues at Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo reviewed relevant studies examining the role of vitamin D in pain-related conditions or sleep disturbances. Their investigation of these data added to previous work showing vitamin D levels may play an important role in the relationship between pain and sleep, and highlight how important it is for health professionals to consider the interrelationship of sleep, pain and vitamin D in a variety of pain-related conditions.

“We can hypothesize that suitable vitamin D supplementation combined with sleep hygiene may optimize the therapeutic management of diseases such as fibromyalgia,” Dr. Levy Andersen said. “It is necessary to understand the possible mechanisms involved in this relationship, including immunological and neurobiological pathways related to the interrelationship among sleep, vitamin D and pain.”

“This research is very exciting and novel,” said Sof Andrikopoulos, PhD, associate professor at the University of Melbourne, in Australia, and editor of the Journal of Endocrinology. “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.”

The role of vitamin D in bone metabolism is well established, according to the study investigators, but they added there is growing debate on how vitamin D affects a variety of biological processes, including pain and sleep. Previously published studies have shown that vitamin D can affect the body’s inflammatory response.

A link between sleep disturbances and pain has long been established, but a role for vitamin D has not been fully investigated. These findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleep quality could increase the effectiveness of pain management treatments for diverse conditions. This could reduce the burden on health services and improve the lives of patients, according to the investigators.

Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Vitamin D in these foods is primarily in the form of vitamin D3 and its metabolite 25(OH)D3 . Some mushrooms provide vitamin D2 in variable amounts . Mushrooms with enhanced levels of vitamin D2 from being exposed to ultraviolet light under controlled conditions are also available.

Based on a press release from the Society for Endocrinology.

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