The review notes that reductions in pain were most significant in those intaking dosages over 50,000 IU a week. Pain levels were still found to be reduced with lower dosages of vitamin D, but the statistical significance could not be determined.
“In the current SRMA study, we pooled nine relevant RCTs. SRMA results showed that vit. D supplementation in women with primary dysmenorrhea and vit. D deficiency reduced the severity of dysmenorrhea-related pain,” the ‘Nutrients’ published study concluded.
Vitamin D and pain
Primary dysmenorrhea is defined as being the discomfort and pain experienced during menstruation, including spasmodic cramping occurring in the lower abdomen, often extending to the lower back or thighs. Such symptoms can significantly impact quality of life for those suffering.
The current treatment methods available for dysmenorrhea includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and oral contraceptive pills; both of which can cause significant side effects including peptic ulcers, hormonal issues and pregnancy issues.
It has been well communicated that natural non-drug methods for the alleviation of symptoms can be effective, such as exercise, and the consumption of ginger, cinnamon, curcumin, fish oils, vitamins, and minerals.
Vitamin D has been observed to have significant anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting its potential as an additional treatment method for dysmenorrhea. In addition, the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene is noted to be involved in the menstrual dysfunction pathogenesis, suggesting its potential efficacy.
Thus, the following systematic review and meta-analysis of available RCTs was conducted to conclude on the effectiveness of vitamin D for the relief of primary dysmenorrhoeal pain.
Utilising seven databases including PubMed, Medline, Web of Science, the researchers conducted a literature search utilising strict inclusion criterion and associated key words. Nine suitable RCTs were obtained, published in the last ten years.
It was reported that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced symptoms of dysmenorrhea-related pain.
The pain levels were significantly lower when the average weekly dose of vitamin D was over 50,000 IU. In addition, if over 50,000 IU was consumed per week, the symptoms were relieved regardless of the dose duration and interval.
Lower dosages of vitamin D resulted in pain-relief effects, yet the statistical significance was unable to be determined due to significant heterogeneity with regards to dosage across studies.
The findings suggest an association between vitamin D and dysmenorrhea-associated pain. Paired with the high prevalence of women suffering from such symptoms, as well as those with vitamin D deficiencies, the study highlights the potential for supplementation as an effective clinical treatment option.
“Based on the current SRMA study, vit. D is effective for the relief of primary dysmenorrhea symptoms (positive significant results) using a weekly dose of up to 50,000 IU for 8 weeks,” the researchers conclude.
Explaining the possible mechanism of action, the report hypothesises: “Muscle hypercontraction is related to calcium influx. Calcium, as a stabilizing agent, could regulate nerve signals and the related dysmenorrhea symptoms. Vit. D, also known as calciferol, can modulate the levels of PG and calcium homeostasis, so it may alleviate the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.”
“Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials”
by Yi-Chun Chen, Yi-Fen Chiang, Ying-Jiun Lin, Ko-Chieh Huang, Hsin-Yuan Chen, Nadia M. Hamdy, Tsui-Chin Huang, Hsin-Yi Chang, Tzong-Ming Shieh, Yun-Ju Huang 7 and Shih-Min Hsia