Vitamin D for pain

by | Jun 28, 2011 | Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain | 1 comment

Looking for more input on how you can manage back pain or chronic pain?  I’ll get right to the point – consider your vitamin-D levels.

Four Facts About Vitamin D for Pain

FACT 1: Many people in the US are vitamin-D deficient or have borderline levels

Perhaps half of the adults in the US have blood levels of vitamin D that are sub-optimal, if not downright deficient.

Technically, a blood level of 25 (OH)D (that’s the chemical symbol for the major circulating form of the vitamin) below 30 ng/mL would be considered borderline, with anything below 20 ng/mL considered “D-ficient.”

FACT 2: Low levels of vitamin D have been correlated with back pain (and other muscle aches and pains too)

Numerous surveys of patients with back pain and chronic pain have turned up the fact that low vitamin D levels are more likely to occur in people with back pain or other forms of chronic musculoskeletal pain.

We don’t know the exact reasons why vitamin D deficiency correlates with back pain.  That’s because the role of vitamin D in the body is quite complex and the vitamin plays a part in many internal chemical processes.

In fact, most physiologists now would prefer to rename vitamin D and call it a hormone (or a pre-hormone) rather than a vitamin.  But it’s too late for that – we’re stuck with the name “vitamin”- D.

One specific role of vitamin D we know about is its role in calcium absorption.  It’s not only good for your back pain, it can also help you maintain bone mass.

FACT 3: Providing patients with vitamin D supplements can often reverse back pain

Here’s one example.  In a study of 360 women with pain, vitamin D therapy reduced symptoms in 96%.

There are other similar research studies, too.

FACT4: Supplementation with extra vitamin D for pain is safe

Vitamin D is stored in your fat cells and you can’t get rid of it in your urine.  So doctors were afraid that with heavy-duty supplementation, vitamin D levels could rise too high.

That’s hypothetically possible.  But the general level of alarm about overdoing vitamin D supplements has quieted considerably.  Very few cases of vitamin D toxicity are ever reported.

On the other hand, don’t go nuts with the vitamin bottle.  Reasonable Vitamin D supplementation is often a good thing.  But twice as much of a good thing isn’t twice as good.

What You Should Do Now

You have two choices.

  1. The first is to see your doctor and have your vitamin D levels checked.  Then base your strategy on what the blood tests show.
  2. A second strategy might also make sense.  You can just start taking a reasonable dose of vitamin D and see if your symptoms improve.  Don’t be impatient though.  Vitamin supplements don’t usually create a dramatic bang right off the bat.  You’ll have to stick with it for a month or two before you evaluate your results.

If I decide to take a vitamin D supplement without having my blood levels tested first, how much is safe to take?

If you’re known to be deficient, many doctors recommend a daily dose of up to 10,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D.   Once the blood levels rise to an acceptable level, the plan is to switch to perhaps 2,000 units per day for long-term maintenance.

So if you want to try vitamin D supplements without having your blood tested first, one reasonable approach is to try a supplement of 2,000 IU daily.  It would be unusual to accumulate too much tissue vitamin D with this approach.

It might take quite a while for you to see results, particularly if your system was significantly depleted of vitamin D to begin with.  If you’re impatient to see results, perhaps you should try choice #1 and see your doctor.

What type of vitamin D supplement should I take?

There are two forms of vitamin D commonly found in our diet – D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).  D3 is the type of vitamin D your body manufactures when you expose your skin to sunlight.

Though it’s hard to prove that such fine-tuning is important, many health authorities recommend that you use a supplement containing the vitamin in the D3 form, since the body processes it into the active form of the vitamin more efficiently.



Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Extensive medical summary of the current state of our vitamin D knowledge

Nutrition supplements vs. pharmaceuticals for low back pain

Vitamin D2 vs D3

New research: low vitamin D may be the result of poor health, not the cause of it


1 Comment

  1. George Blomme

    Good simple remedy Ron.


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