A study led by Dr Elina Hyppönen at ICH has shown that low levels of
the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, may contribute to chronic pain among
The link does not apply to men, suggesting hormones may be
involved, according to the study which was published this week in the
Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. The team from ICH said studies were now
needed to see if vitamin D supplements can guard against chronic pain.
one in 10 people are affected by chronic pain at any one time in the
UK. The causes are not well understood and much of the focus to date has
been on emotional factors.
Among the 7,000 men and women aged 45
from across England, Scotland and Wales who were involved in the study,
those who were smokers, non-drinkers, overweight and underweight all
reported higher rates of chronic pain. Among the women, vitamin D levels
also appeared to be important.
This finding was not explained by
gender differences in lifestyle or social factors, such as levels of
physical activity and time spent outdoors, say the research team. Women
with vitamin D levels between 75 and 99 mmol/litre - a level deemed
necessary for bone health - had the lowest rates of this type of pain,
at just over eight per cent.
Women with levels of less than 25
mmol/litre had the highest rates, at 14.4%. Severe lack of vitamin D in
adults can lead to the painful bone disease osteomalacia but the team
said osteomalacia did not account for their findings.
said: “Further work is now needed to evaluate whether vitamin D
supplements can help prevent chronic pain. If I had chronic pain, I
would certainly check I was getting enough vitamin D. That said, our
earlier work has shown that the problem with hypovitaminosis D is very
common in northern latitudes, such as the UK, especially during winter
and spring. Now that the sunny season is about to end, and given the
suggested influences of vitamin D deficiency on other diseases including
cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, ensuring adequate levels
of vitamin D intake would be beneficial for most of us."
For further information on hypovitaminosis D please visit: http://www.ich.ucl.ac.uk/pressoffice/pressrelease_00510
Hayley Dodman, GOSH-ICH press office: 020 7239 3126
For genuine and urgent out of hours call speak to switchboard on 020 7405 9200