Rediscovery of Vitamin D3

The Rediscovery of Vitamin D3

by Dr. Greg Fors, DC – Board Certified Neurologist DIBCN Posted On: 08/01/2007

One very vital component of a patient’s metabolic tune-up, to heal chronic pain and promote wellness, is Vitamin D3. Many clinicians commonly overlook the newly rediscovered role in health and disease that this lowly hormone-like vitamin plays today. This is very troubling for those who suffer from chronic muscle and joint pain problems, for recent studies have shown clearly how low serum levels of Vitamin D are associated with chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. However, Vitamin D deficiencies were something that was never considered a problem in Western nations. In years past there was more concern that people may be getting too much Vitamin D, though recent studies are now showing that Vitamin D deficiencies are much more prevalent than once was thought.

In recent data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-94 (NHANES III), blood serum levels of Vitamin D3 were found to be below the recommended levels for a large portion of the general adult population and for most minorities. The prevalence of moderate and severe deficiencies of Vitamin D was found to be much higher among women and minority populations; however, one-third of all white men were also found to have low Vitamin D levels.(1) The researchers in this study concluded; “Need exists for a critical review and probable revision of current recommendations for adult Vitamin D intake to maintain adequate 25(OH) D3 levels”.

The findings of this comprehensive research become even more significant in light of a recent study on individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain. In this study, blood serum levels of Vitamin D were tested on 150 individuals, males and females, aged 10 to 65 years, and from 6 broad ethnic groups. All 150 of these individuals suffered with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. Amazingly, in these muscle and joint pain patients, 93% (140/ 150) had deficient serum levels of Vitamin D. This means that if your patient suffers with nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, their chances would be greater than 9 out of 10 of having of a Vitamin D deficiency. In this study, 100% of all African American, East African, Hispanic, and American Indian patients, had deficient levels of Vitamin D.(2)

The conclusion of these researchers was straightforward; “All patients with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain are at high risk for the consequences of unrecognized and untreated severe hypovitaminosis D.” “Persistent nonspecific musculoskeletal pain” is another name for a myofascial pain syndrome, and they are nonspecific because these individuals did not have an underlying diagnosable bone or muscle pathology to account for their pain. Therefore, if your patient has regional myofascial pain or the global myofascial pain of fibromyalgia, you will want to have their Vitamin D3 levels measured, and/or consider supplementing with Vitamin D3. Specifically, run a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test on them to see how deficient they might be. Not long ago, normal was considered 7-46 ng/mL of serum Vitamin D., however, this level has recently been raised to 32-100 ng/mL. Many experts now believe that 40 to 100 ng/mL of serum of Vitamin D is the ideal range for optimal health. Serum Vitamin D levels over 100 to 150 ng/mL suggests toxicity and must be investigated by your physician.

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It is important to remember that numerous different studies have now found a correlation between many modern health problems and Vitamin D deficiencies, including osteoporosis, chronic muscle pain, fibromyalgia, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis,(3) and even depression.(4) Always supplement with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), not Vitamin D2. The dosage of various conditions runs from 500 to 2000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 daily; even though there is limited toxicity, never exceed 2000 I.U. per day. Do not take with Vitamin A, as in cod liver oil, because Vitamin A competes with the absorption of Vitamin D. Recent research has suggested that Vitamin D helps to lower systemic chronic inflammation and insulin resistance in tissues throughout the body. This may explain its wide spread health effects and its ability to combat chronic myofascial pain disorders. For the sake of your patients, do not ignore Vitamin D3 in optimizing their health.

  1. Zadshir A., Tareen N., Pan D., Norris K., Martins D. The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D among US adults: data from the NHANES III. Ethn Dis. 2005 Autumn; 15(4 Suppl 5):S5-97-101
  2. Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis D in patients with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Dec; 78(12):1463-70.
  3. Munger KL., Levin L.I., Hollis B.W., Howard N.S., Ascherio A. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis. JAMA. 2006 Dec 20; 296(23):2832-8.
  4. Wilkins C.H., Sheline Y.I., Roe C.M., Birge S.J., Morris J.C. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006 Dec; 14(12):1032-40.