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Alleviate Chronic Back Pain with this Vitamin

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According to Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, editor of Pain Treatment Topics and author of the report, “our examination of the research, which included 22 clinical investigations of patients with back pain, found that those with chronic back pain almost always had inadequate levels of Vitamin D. When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, their back pain either vanished or was at least helped to a significant extent.”

The report, “Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” which was peer-reviewed by a panel of 8 experts, includes the following important points:

  • Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Inadequate Vitamin D intake can result in a softening of bone surfaces, or osteomalacia, that causes back pain. The lower back seems to be particularly vulnerable to this effect.
  • In one study of 360 patients with back pain, all of them were found to have inadequate levels of Vitamin D. After taking Vitamin D supplements for 3 months, symptoms were improved in 95% of the patients. All of them with the most severe vitamin D deficiencies experienced back-pain relief.
  • The currently recommended adequate intake of Vitamin D – up to 600 IU per day – is outdated and too low. According to the research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with chronic back pain would benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol).
  • Vitamin D supplements have a highly favorable safety profile. They interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless extremely high doses – such as 50,000 IU or more – are taken daily for an extended period of time.
  • Vitamin D supplements are easy for patients to self-administer, are well tolerated, and typically cost as little as 7 to 10 cents per day.

In conclusion, Leavitt stresses that Vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all back pain and in all patients. It also is not necessarily a replacement for other back pain treatments. “While further research would be helpful,” he says, “current best evidence indicates that recommending supplemental Vitamin D for patients with chronic back pain would do no harm and could do much good at little cost.”

Besides the comprehensive Research Report (50-pages, 170 references), there is available a shorter Practitioner Briefing (7-pages) that summarizes the report and provides guidance for health care providers. Additionally, a special Patient Brochure (6-pages) explains what Vitamin D is, how it works, and how it may help in relieving back pain.  All 3 documents are available for free access at:

More About Vitamin D

The researchers wrote in their background information that recent estimates suggested that 50 to 60 per cent of older people all over the world do not have enough vitamin D in their bodies, and the situation for younger people is not very different.  Previous research has shown that a low level of Vitamin D is linked with falls, fractures, cancer, immune system problems, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure (hypertension). These effects are thought to be due to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is made in the body and also converted from 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

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