Vitamin D is known to build strong bones. Research has now shown its effectiveness in reducing back pain as well as in preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important in maintaining the healthy calcium and phosphorus levels that are needed to build healthy bones and teeth. Known as “the sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in the body when exposed to sun, new evidence shows that vitamin D has an analgesic effect on chronic musculoskeletal pain, functioning as a hormone in various tissues.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient. It is available in some foods, but one of the best ways to obtain vitamin D is via exposure to ultraviolet rays (UVB) in sunlight, absorbed through the skin. Many people are deficient in this nutrient. Sun exposure north of New York and San Francisco, even in the summer months, is not effective in producing vitamin D in the skin because the rays are not strong enough, so supplementation is required.
Though it is called a vitamin, its function is actually a prohormone. Food sources of vitamin D are small boned fish and grains. Deficiency of vitamin D causes rickets.
In 22 studies of vitamin D, conducted with 3,670 participants, 48% to 100% of those with musculoskeletal pain displayed vitamin D deficiencies. With supplementation, almost all reported a lessening or complete elimination of bone and muscle pain. Another study of 360 participants with back pain showed that all had insufficient levels of vitamin D, and 95% showed relief after three months of supplementation, assuming there was no injury, such as a slipped disc. A study at the University of Minnesota noted that the majority of those with severe deficiency were under the age of 30. Studies of over 40,000 participants taking vitamin D showed a reduction in hip fractures by 18%.
Most researches agree that the current guideline for vitamin D consumption (600 IU) is insufficient. New guidelines suggest 2400 IU to 2800 IU daily. Others suggest intake of up to 4,000 IU a day along with 1,000 mg of calcium, to help build bones. There are few drug interactions, and few instances of overdosing. Dosages of 50,000 over an extended period of time are not recommended.
Vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive, costing pennies a day. With eight out of ten people reporting back pain in their lifetimes, vitamin D supplementation is a must. This simple nutritional supplement can inexpensively prevent and maintain healthy bones and muscle tone.
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