Were you aware that there is a vitamin D fibromyalgia connection?
Most people don’t know about it, even if they do actually have fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia itself is a chronic condition that involves significant pain throughout the body. People suffering from the condition experience many issues, including challenges with mood and memory, insomnia, persistent fatigue and tender joints.
It’s a horrible condition, and these issues can make life very challenging, especially as there is no cure for the disease.
Instead, people suffering from the condition seek to reduce their symptoms wherever possible and to avoid triggers that can make the condition worse.
Many of the approaches that people end up trying are natural, especially as natural treatments can complement one another. For example, Dr. Axe has a post on 5 natural fibromyalgia treatments.
Natural treatments are often especially important because suffers can also face the issue where people (including medical professionals) simply don’t believe the patient.
Vitamin D doesn’t offer a cure for fibromyalgia, but there is an interesting relationship between vitamin D levels on fibromyalgia – suggesting the potential for vitamin D to help fibromyalgia sufferers.
The Vitamin D Fibromyalgia Relationship
Fibromyalgia is inherently difficult to diagnose, because many of its symptoms can also be attributed to other conditions. For example, fatigue is one key symptom, yet there are many potential causes of fatigue, including other conditions and just simply lifestyle choices.
After all, stress can make you sleep poorly, which contributes to fatigue.
However, a great number of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are also true for vitamin D deficiency.
This includes aches and pains, fatigue and depression (1).
In fact, the similarities between the two conditions are so strong that vitamin D deficiency is frequently misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia (2).
This can be a real issue because if people have undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency, they won’t be receiving any supplements to help correct the problem.
This also means that vitamin D supplements may be enough to resolve all of the observed symptoms if there was a misdiagnosis.
One reason behind this misdiagnosis is that interest in vitamin D is still relatively new.
Because of this, some doctors may not test vitamin D levels or may not feel that vitamin D deficiency could cause the issues.
Reducing Fibromyalgia Symptoms
In cases where vitamin D deficiency was misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, vitamin D can act like a wonder drug. After all, supplementing with vitamin D completely treats the deficiency.
But, there are many cases where misdiagnosis does not occur.
Instead, those people really do have fibromyalgia.
Even then, vitamin D deficiency often co-occurs with fibromyalgia – and supplementing vitamin D can help in these situations.
One reason for this is that fibromyalgia can often be debilitating, especially on bad days. Often this means that the condition can influence people’s ability to go out. In turn, going outside less often means that a person is going to be exposed to less sunlight, reducing their vitamin D production.
At the same time, some researchers have proposed that chronic levels of mental or physical stress can play a role in decreasing the production of vitamin D (3).
The two conditions co-occurring like this is a major problem.
It means that people can end up experiencing significantly worse symptoms of fatigue, pain and depression, because they are getting those symptoms from two different conditions.
For example, one study found that people with fibromyalgia who also had vitamin D deficiency had higher levels of depression and anxiety compared to those who only experienced fibromyalgia (4).
Research into Vitamin D Fibromyalgia
Some studies have looked into the potential of using vitamin D as a treatment for fibromyalgia.
For example, one experimental study looked at differences in pain and physical function with fibromyalgia patients who did and did not take vitamin D supplements.
The authors found that physical function was higher and pain was lower in the patients who took the supplements (5).
A second study also found that treatment with vitamin D and trazodone was able to reduce pain more than those just receiving trazodone (6).
That is true not only for fibromyalgia, but also for chronic pain in general (9).
Nevertheless, theory and the limited research that suggests that supplementation of vitamin D may play an important role for helping to treat fibromyalgia – as this supplementation can help prevent and treat vitamin D deficiency.
For people with undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency, such an approach could help to decrease their symptoms by removing those symptoms that are not the direct result of fibromyalgia.
As such, vitamin D is a powerful addition to the available approaches to help treat and reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Approaches to Take
I’m talking almost exclusively about supplementation with vitamin D, rather than going out in the sunlight – but there are reasons I’m focusing on this area.
Supplementation makes the most sense for people who are already deficient in vitamin D because they are often far below desired levels of vitamin D.
Once their level of vitamin D has been brought back up, trying to get it from the sun instead is always an alternative – and you may want to try and figure out which approach works better for you.
For fibromyalgia sufferers, supplementation may be particularly relevant because of the challenges of getting outside in the sun on a regular enough basis. Additionally, there is considerable debate surrounding what levels of vitamin D are ideal for health, and supplementation allows people to reach higher levels of vitamin D with relative ease.
Ideally, any supplementation with vitamin D should be accompanied with monitoring of the levels in your blood.
Many medical practitioners are willing to do this as part of standard treatment and may also be willing to prescribe vitamin D supplements. This practice is becoming more common as vitamin D is becoming more widely recognized as important for health.
If this is not an option, vitamin D supplements are commonly available at grocery stores and health food stores. Tests to monitor vitamin D levels in the blood are also available from a range of sources, including the Vitamin D Council.
As is the case with many approaches for lowering fibromyalgia pain, vitamin D supplementation might not work for everyone.
However, as vitamin D deficiency is a serious issue for health, it is certainly worth trying out vitamin D and finding out whether it makes a difference.