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Fibromyalgia and Vitamin D

Have you had your vitamin D level checked lately? The reason I ask is that I just did and found out quite a lot as a result.

vit_DWhat I found out has propelled me to explore vitamin D and why it is so important to the body. My vitamin D level is low, and my doctor recommended supplementation of D³ 5,000 that is a softgel “solubalized in oil to support absorption in the intestinal tract.” I quote from the bottle label to emphasize the importance of quality in supplementation. The doctor recommended this particular brand and type.

I found this vitamin D graphic at the left on the RAWBINA Website, which “pirated” it from this Website: http://www.DrKehres.com, being the site of a chiropractor in Saginaw, Michigan. One thing in particular caught my attention. It says “Up to 60% of people with fibromyalgia have vitamin D deficiency.” In view of the fact that 8 to 10 million people in this country and similar concentrations worldwide have fibromyalgia, that is a whole lot of people with deficient vitamin D. The thing that bothers me nearly as much as this fact is that I am sure most of these people don’t know it. I am equally sure that their doctors don’t know it either. Just think, if people around the world had sufficient vitamin D in their systems, what would that do to eliminate their risk of getting fibromyalgia and numerous other diseases? Do I dare suggest that the pharmaceutical industry might feel threatened if everyone had this information. After all, vitamin supplementation, good nutrition, and healthier living are much cheaper and easier than risking our health and living on drugs. Think about it.

Granted, we do not know the cause of fibromyalgia nor the cure, but if these statements are correct, it seems likely that sufficient vitamin D might ward off this illness. I am not a doctor nor a biochemist, so I cannot state this with certainty. However, in my efforts to inform and help those fighting this disease every day, it is my imperative to tell you what I learn in my research.

In addition, this vitamin D grahic picture states these facts:

  • The elderly are 11 times more likely to have depression with low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also
  • reduces the risk of heart attacks in men by up to 30%,
  • reduces the risk of Type 1 diabetes by up to 66%,
  • reduces the risk of Multiple Sclerosis by up to 54%, and
  • reduces the risk of fractures by 50%.

We all know that vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin, and the most natural way to get your D is to get plenty of sunshine. However, with the current scare of skin cancer, many of us are lathering ourselves with sunscreen to the point that it also eliminates the absorption from the sun of vitamin D. We in northern climates are subject to decreased sunshine during the winter months, and that also puts us at risk. So, if you are at risk for either of these reasons, do yourself a favor and have your vitamin D level checked and do whatever your doctor suggests, which will probably be supplementation if you are low. A friend of mine who has M.S. supplements to 10,000 I.U. a day. Unless you have your vitamin D level checked, you don’t really know how to supplement. The test is a simple blood test and can be done as part of your annual physical exam or at any other time. The one thing you should not do is to assume that your daily multivitamin contains enough vitamin D to eliminate your risk of the above conditions.

Since first publishing this post, I have found more information on appropriate supplementation of vitamin D, and I will post this verbatim, from the WebMD website:

  • [In November 2010, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) expert committee set a new “dietary reference intake” for vitamin D.
Assuming that a person gets virtually no vitamin D from sunshine — and that this person gets adequate amounts of calcium — the IOM committee recommends getting the following amounts of vitamin D from diet or supplements (Note that the IOM’s upper limit is not a recommended intake, but what the IOM considers the highest safe level):
  • Infants age 0 to 6 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,000 IU/day
  • Infants age 6 to 12 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,500 IU/day
  • Age 1-3 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 2,500 IU/day
  • Age 4-8 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 3,000 IU/day
  • Age 9-70: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
  • Age 71+ years: adequate intake, 800 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
That’s not enough, says Boston University vitamin D expert Michael Holick, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics, Boston University Medical Center. Holick recommends a dose of 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D for both infants and adults — unless they’re getting plenty of safe sun exposure.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that breastfed infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D every day until they are weaned. This doubled the AAP’s previous recommendation.
The AAP also recommends 400 IU/day of vitamin D for children and teens who drink less than a quart of vitamin D-fortified milk per day.
The Vitamin D Council recommends that healthy adults take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily — more if they get little or no sun exposure.
There’s evidence that people with a lot of body fat need more vitamin D than lean people. But it’s clear that the IOM’s conservative recommendations will stir debate in the scientific and medical communities. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you’re considering taking more vitamin D than the IOM committee recommends, first check with your doctor or pediatrician.]

Get your vitamin D level checked, and encourage your friends to do the same. By upping this nutrient, perhaps we can also alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. I am certainly going to keep track of this phenomenon and discuss it with my doctor. I am also going to make an appointment with a nutritionist to see what she or he has to say about this. If I learn more, I will pass it along.