Could vitamin D help pain management?

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock/NatchaS
Photo: iStock/NatchaS

Related tags Vitamin d supplementation Vitamin d Pain

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits might help manage chronic pain, menstrual cramps and arthritis, new research suggests.

Published in the Journal of Endocrinology​, a new review of existing research on the relationship between vitamin D levels, sleep and pain management, reports that levels of vitamin D combined with good quality sleep could help manage pain-related conditions including arthritis, menstrual cramps and chronic back pain.

Led by Dr Monica Levy Andersen and colleagues at Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, the review pulls together previous studies that have examined the role of vitamin D in pain-related conditions or sleep disturbances – finding that vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleep quality could increase the effectiveness of pain management treatments, for diverse conditions.

“We can hypothesize that suitable vitamin D supplementation combined with sleep hygiene may optimize the therapeutic management of pain-related diseases, such as fibromyalgia,”​ said Andersen – who added that it is necessary to understand the possible mechanisms involved in this relationship, “including immunological and neurobiological pathways related to inter-relationship among sleep, vitamin D and pain.”

Vitamin D

The team noted that while the role of vitamin D in osteo-mineral metabolism gains a lot of attention and research focus, several studies have also suggested the sunshine vitamin may have action on different biological mechanisms including pain (nociceptive sensitivity) and sleep-wake cycle modulation.

“Studies have demonstrated a possible action of vitamin D in the regulatory mechanisms of both sleep and pain,”​ said the team.

“Poor sleep efficiency and sleep disorders have been shown to have an important role in hyperalgesia, and be associated with different vitamin D values,”​ they added.

Vitamin D has also been inversely correlated with painful manifestations, such as fibromyalgia and rheumatic diseases, said the team.

“Supplementation of vitamin D associated with good sleep hygiene may have a therapeutic role, not only in sleep disorders but also in the prevention and treatment of chronic pain conditions,” ​said Andersen and colleagues.

They added that it is important for researchers to consider the sleep-pain-vitamin D inter-relationship in a variety of pain-related conditions, such as arthritis, chronic back pain and menstrual cramps.

Assistant Professor Sof Andrikopoulos from University of Melbourne, editor of the Journal of Endocrinology​ commented: “This research is very exciting and novel. We are unravelling the possible mechanisms of how vitamin D is involved in many complex processes, including what this review shows - that a good night's sleep and normal levels of vitamin D could be an effective way to manage pain."

Source: Journal of Endocrinology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1530/JOE-16-0514
“The interfaces between vitamin D, sleep and pain”
Authors: Daniela Leite de Oliveira, et al

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