What if that backache pain that you feel is easily fixed by increasing your intake of one vitamin? You may not realize it, but it’s easy to mistake lower back pain as a sign of an injury. Joint pain can also mimic symptoms of this vitamin deficiency.
In the winter, most of the northern hemisphere gets less sun than it will during the Spring, Summer and Fall. The temperatures are also lower, so we cover up and stay inside our heated homes and workplaces as much as possible.
As a result, we leave our homes bundled up, get into our transportation, enter our workplaces, and return home having rarely had any skin exposed to the sun. We lose the benefit of direct sunlight on exposed skin which produces our Vitamin D quota for the day.
We have been told that skin cancer is such a high risk that we should cover up or apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. But it that really necessary? The risk of sunscreen versus the benefit of naturally absorbed Vitamin D in one health decision where we tend to err on the side of caution.
Since we would rather avoid skin cancer from too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun, we lose the benefit of Vitamin D that natural sunlight provides.
When we lack adequate Vitamin D, we reduce our body’s ability to absorb calcium which strengthens our bones. Something as correctible as a Vitamin D deficiency can cause back and joint pain to such a degree that we might seek the help of a medical professional.
This Common Vitamin Deficiency Causes Back and Joint Pain
Pain and Vitamin deficiency
In a study of 360 patients (90% women and 10% men) who reported lower back pain and visited a spinal and internal medicine clinic over a 6-year period, 83% of the study patients had an abnormally low level of vitamin D.
These were patients, ages 15 to 52, who had low back pain with no obvious cause for longer than 6 months. After treatment with Vitamin D supplements, measurable improvement in symptoms was seen in all the groups that had a low level of vitamin D, and in 95% of all the patients.
Bone and joint pain as a result of Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is important for the absorption of dietary calcium. When someone is deficient in vitamin D, the amount of calcium absorbed is less than what is needed to satisfy the body’s calcium requirement. This results in an increase in the production of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Parathyroid hormone conserves calcium by increasing the reabsorption of calcium by the kidneys. The kidneys then produce a hormonally active form of vitamin D.
When we are deficient in vitamin D, not of the hormonally active form of Vitamin D is produced to maintain calcium absorption. When this happens, the skeleton becomes the source of calcium for the body. This results in osteopenia and osteoporosis.
When we lack enough Vitamin C to properly mineralize our bones and help them be solid, there is an effect of outward pressure on the membrane that covers our bones which has sensory pain fibers. This explains why patients with a Vitamin D deficiency often experience dull. aching pain in their bones.
Many patients with this general bone pain are misdiagnosed by their doctors as having fibromyalgia. The symptom of generalized whole-body bone and joint pain as a result of vitamin deficiency is easily correctible.
In a study of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, one of the typical treatments (with aromatase inhibitors) led to reports of severe joint pain to the point that the women felt disabled. Supplementing with 50,000 units of Vitamin D per week reduced the frequency of women reporting this severe joint pain.
Prevention of back and joint pain from Vitamin D deficiency
The amount of sun exposure needed to correct this deficiency in Vitamin D is minimal. It is estimated that as little as 10 minutes in the sun, with skin exposed on the face, arms, and legs is enough for a fair-skinned person in the summer months to produce 10,000 units of Vitamin D.
However, if you live north of Atlanta, GA in the winter, you aren’t getting enough sunlight. Darker skinned people are less able to absorb UVB radiation form the sun which is required to produce Vitamin D. Elderly people are also at higher risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
Treatment of Vitamin D deficiency
A Vitamin D deficiency can be treated easily by giving the patient a dose of 50,000 units of vitamin D once a week for 8 weeks. Long-term treatment of vitamin D deficiency can be accomplished by giving 50,000 units of vitamin D once or twice a month.
Many of our grocery items are fortified with additional Vitamin D. Adding a supplement in the winter of 2,000 units per day may be required to maintain bone and joint health.