Fight Off Back Aches & Pains This Winter With Extra Vitamin D
It’s no wonder that many people feel extra soreness and aches in their backs during winter months -- they’re often not getting enough vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so it’s known as the sunshine vitamin. However, even in the sunniest parts of America, this essential vitamin for keeping bones healthy is in short supply during late fall and winter.
Up to 8 out of 10 persons will have back pain in their lifetimes. In many cases, there is no evidence of any injury, disease, or bone problem like a slipped disk. An extensive review of clinical research in a report from Pain Treatment Topics found that help may be available from a surprising champion of pain relief – Vitamin D.
According to Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Executive Director of Pain Treatment Topics and author of the report, “our examination of the research, which included numerous clinical studies, found that patients with chronic back pain usually had inadequate levels of vitamin D. When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, their pain either vanished or was at least helped to a significant extent.”
The report, “Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” which was peer-reviewed by a panel of experts, includes the following important points:
> Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Among other things,inadequate vitamin D intake can result in a softening of bone surfaces, called osteomalacia, which causes pain. The lower back seems to be particularly vulnerable.
> In one study of 360 patients with chronic back pain, all of them were found to have inadequate levels of vitamin D. After taking vitamin D supplements for 3 months, symptoms were improved in 95% of the patients.
> The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D – up to 600 IU per day – is outdated and too low. According to newer research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with chronic back pain would benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol).
> Vitamin D supplements interact with very few medicines or other agents, and are generally safe unless very high doses – such as 10,000 IU or more – are taken daily for a long period of time. However, it is always wise to check with a healthcare professional before starting a new dietary supplement.
> Vitamin D supplements are easy to take, usually have no side effects, and typically cost as little as 7 to 10 cents per day.
In conclusion, Leavitt stresses that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all back pain conditions, and it is not necessarily a replacement for other pain-relief treatments. “While further research would be helpful,” he says, “extra vitamin D should be considered for all persons during winter months, and especially for those who have back aches and pains.”