Attention, fibromyalgia patients: at your last doctor’s visit, did your physician check your vitamin D levels? If not, you need to trot right back to his or her office, and ask (politely, of course) for a vitamin D level blood test.
Why? Because new research is indicating low levels of vitamin D in fibromyalgia patients, and raising the blood level of vitamin D provides pain relief.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is defined as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). To patients, it’s more commonly known as the Curse. Fibromyalgia is marked by chronic pain, with spikes of severe pain thrown in; by fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and mental fog. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. At least the allopathic world acknowledges it’s a real medical condition now – before the 1980s, patients were routinely told the pain was all in their heads, and referred for psychiatric treatment. The allopathic medical world offers little help for the condition: NSAIDs are offered as pain relievers; when they no longer do the job, you start up the prescription pain med ladder, and trust me – that’s not a ladder you want to be climbing. Lyrica (pregabaline) is offered as a treatment, but the side effects are worse than the disease (at least if you have a mild to moderate case) itself.
Vitamin D is broken down into five subcategories: D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. Vitamins D2 and D3 are the most commonly known D vitamins, and vitamin D3 is the one you should be most concerned about. Vitamin D3 is known as cholecalciferol, and is used by the liver to form calcidiol. Calcidiol is then used by the kidneys to form calcitriol. The body uses calcittriol as a prehormone to regulate levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. Calcitriol promotes the healthy growth of bone and muscle tissue, and also affects neuromuscular and immune functions. As fibromyalgia is a neuromuscular and painful disorder , and is thought by many to be an autoimmune disorder, it is logical to assume low vitamin D levels will have an impact on the condition.
What is a Safe Dose of Vitamin D?
Depends on whom you’re asking. In general, a dose of 4000 iu is considered to be a safe amount, for people nine years of age or older. Vitamin D can be toxic, although cases of Vitamin D toxicity are rare. If your vitamin D levels are low, your physician may put you on a dose of 50,000 iu once a week until your levels rise to normal, and then may keep you on a maintenance dose of 7,000 to 10,000 iu a day. Alternatively, the doctor may put you on a daily dose of 10,000 iu long-term, until your levels come back to the normal range. If you are a fibromyalgia patient, or one with MS or Lupus, you may want to take a 7,000 – 10,000 iu dose a day anyway, as chronic pain will deplete your vitamin D levels.
What Does the Allopathic World Say?
There is very little science to support claims of vitamin D’s effects. If you research the Internet, you will find reference after reference saying little or no evidence exists to support vitamin D as a treatment for any specific condition. There is a new study, done in Vienna, Austria, however, that supports vitamin D as a therapy for pain relief in fibromyalgia patients. The doctors followed thirty women with fibromyalgia and broke them into two groups. One group was given vitamin D over the course of twenty-four weeks, and the other group was given a placebo. Pain levels were compared between the two groups, and those receiving the vitamin D showed significant pain reduction and less early morning stiffness than the placebo group. The study is promising, as vitamin D is a known quantity, and it’s cheap. If it holds up, fibromyalgia patients will be able to find pain relief – at least some, anyway – without nasty side effects, and without breaking their budgets.
Vitamin D is showing promise as a pain relief therapy for fibromyalgia patients. It is cheap, it’s a well-known quantity, and it’s widely available. As vitamin D can be toxic when your levels rise beyond a certain point, vitamin D levels need to be monitored by periodic blood tests. This is not a therapy a patient should undertake on their own – if your vitamin D levels are already in the normal range, increasing the level of your intake on your own is inadvisable. It is a subject you should discuss with your fibromyalgia doctor, and soon – raising your vitamin D level has other benefits, research notwithstanding – so getting started on the therapy is a good idea.
By Stevan Mcgrath
The Role of Vitamin D in Fibromyalgia stevanmcgrath.kinja.com