For people suffering from chronic pain, an extra dose of vitamin D may offer a better treatment option, according to a new research report.
An extensive review by Stewart B. Leavitt, author of the report, suggests that inadequate vitamin D intake leads to chronic painful maladies, including bone and joint pain of various types, muscle pain, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorders, osteoarthritis, and other complaints.
Moreover, lack of vitamin D also has been associated with the mood disturbances of chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.
"Our examination of the research, including 22 clinical investigations of patients with various chronic pain and fatigue syndromes, found that these persons almost always had inadequate levels of vitamin D," said Leavitt.
"When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, the aches, pains, weakness, and related problems in most of them either vanished or were at least helped to a significant extent," he added.
A majority of persons do not get adequate vitamin D from sun exposure or foods.
The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D - up to 600 IU per day - is outdated and too low. According to the research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain would benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D supplements interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless extremely high doses are taken. An extra dose of the vitamin D may provide relief from pain.
Leavitt said that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all pain conditions and in all patients. It also is not necessarily a replacement for other pain treatments.
"While further research would be helpful current best evidence indicates that recommending supplemental vitamin D for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorders would do no harm and could do much good at little cost," he said.
"It should be considered by healthcare providers for their patients early in the course of pain management," he added.