Fibromyalgia and Vitamin-D

Dr. Chaney is a great resource for us Shaklee folks. I am posting this because of research I did for friends that have fibromyalgia and because of my own need for supplemental vitamin D. Vitamin D is not only for strong bones. It is also involved in preventing cancer, autoimmune disease, respiratory infections, colds and the flu. There is much more about it on the web.

Dr. Stephen Chaney

Dr. Chaney is a professor of biochemistry, biophysics and nutrition at UNC Medical School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is also a prominent cancer researcher with a well established research lab he directs at UNC.

This week I am covering an aspect of “The Vitamin D Solution” by Dr. Michael Holick.

There was an interesting chapter of the book in which he discussed fibromyalgia as a possible symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

Fibromyalgia is the diagnosis often given to people who experience chronic pain (bone and muscle pain) and weakness with no apparent cause.

Now to understand why Dr. Holick considers fibromyalgia as a possible symptom of vitamin D deficiency we need to first review the known conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Practically everyone has heard of rickets. It is a childhood disease that is known to be associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Because there is not enough vitamin D present for the growing child to properly mineralize the new bones as they form, the child ends up with soft, pliable bones.  These, in turn, leads to bowed legs and several other skeletal deformities associated with rickets.

Similarly, practically everyone has heard about osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a demineralization of the bones that occurs in older adults (women past menopause and men over 50). The bones become very fragile and easily break.

Much research over the past decade has shown that we can think of osteoporosis as a lifelong deficiency of calcium and vitamin D (although several other factors are also involved).

However, there is a third consequence of vitamin D deficiency that most people are unaware of – a condition called osteomalacia.

Osteomalacia most often occurs in young adults and it is associated with a softening of the bone. The most common symptom of osteomalacia is chronic bone and muscle pain.

Most doctors have been trained to identify rickets or osteoporosis, but they haven’t been trained in how to identify osteomalacia (our medical school is just as guilty of this as the other schools). Primarily, this is because most experts considered osteomalacia to be almost nonexistent because of food fortification with vitamin D.

However, now that we are starting to learn that 30-80% of the US population may be vitamin D deficient, it may be time to re-think this assumption.

Dr. Holick reports that 40-60% of the patients who are referred to his office with symptoms of fibromyalgia are vitamin D deficient, and those patients who are vitamin D deficient respond well to vitamin D supplementation.

Dr. Holick also referred to a study by Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff of the University of Minnesota that said that 93% of children and adults who come to his emergency room with nonspecific muscle aches and pain were found to be vitamin D deficient.

So, what is the bottom line if you or someone that you know has fibromyalgia?

I would not recommend that you think of vitamin D as a magic bullet. There are many other things involved in fibromyalgia, such as inflammation and possible autoimmune responses. Your holistic approaches to managing a disease should cover all the bases.

However, vitamin D supplements are cheap, easy to use and practically risk free (You would have to take huge amounts on a daily basis to develop vitamin D toxicity). If you are experiencing bone and muscle pain for no apparent reason, it would make good sense to add some vitamin D to your daily regimen.

To Your Health!

Dr. Stephen G Chaney

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