Vitamin D May Ease Fibro Pain
Patients who think they are deficient in the nutrient should consult
their doctor first, experts say
By Randy Dotinga
FRIDAY, Jan. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from the
chronic pain of fibromyalgia might benefit from taking vitamin D
supplements if they suffer from low levels of the vitamin, a new study
from Austria suggests.
There's no cure for fibromyalgia, which can lead to pain, fatigue and
several other symptoms, the researchers said. The exact cause of the
illness remains unclear.
In the study, researchers led by Dr. Florian Wepner, of Orthopedic
Hospital Vienna Speising, sought to discover whether there is a link
between a patient's vitamin D levels and the chronic pain of
fibromyalgia. Vitamin D often is called the "sunshine vitamin" because
it is manufactured by the body through sunlight's activity on the
Wepner's team launched a randomized, controlled trial in 30 women with
fibromyalgia who also had low levels of vitamin D. Some of the women
took supplements for 25 weeks and then were tracked for another 24
Reporting in the February issue of the journal Pain, the researchers
said those who took supplements reported less pain and morning fatigue
over time than those who did not receive the supplements.
"[Vitamin D] may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical
treatment and an extremely cost-effective alternative or adjunct to
expensive pharmacological treatment," Wepner said in a journal news
Vitamin D levels should be monitored in fibromyalgia patients --
especially in the winter when levels can be lower due to less sun
exposure -- and adjusted as necessary, Wepner said.
Although the study was able to find an association between vitamin D
supplementation and an easing of fibromyalgia pain, it did not prove a
However, two experts on the illness said the findings make sense.
"Fibromyalgia patients and those with chronic pain should certainly
have their vitamin D blood levels checked and, if low, consider
supplementation under the guidance of a physician," said Dr. Kiran
Patel, a pain medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
City who often treats people with fibromyalgia.
Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount
Sinai Hospital in New York City, agreed. "Vitamin D deficiency has
been linked to chronic pain, and this study further strengthens the
argument to [replenish] vitamin D in deficient individuals," he said.
"It is important to note that these patients were under the care of a
physician during the [vitamin] repletion, and that it took months for
the benefits to be shown," Danesh said. "This is expected, as vitamin
D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in fat cells. When a patient
has low levels, those stores need to be [replenished], and this takes
weeks or months to occur."
Danesh cautioned, however, that people who worry that they are vitamin
D-deficient should always check with their doctor before taking
supplements. Taking in too much vitamin D can actually be toxic and
cause harm, he said.
"Patients should consult their doctor if they think they are deficient
or have their levels checked at their next physical," he said.