People who have low blood levels of vitamin D require nearly twice as much pain medication as those with adequate levels of this "sunshine vitamin", say researchers from the Mayo Comprehensive Pain Rehab Center.
In this study, 267 people admitted to the pain rehabilitation center had their blood levels of vitamin D recorded along with self-reports of reported levels of pain, emotional distress, physical functioning and overall well-being. Use of pain medications such as morphine were also tracked.
The researchers found that patients who had inadequate vitamin-D levels and required narcotic pain medication were taking much higher doses - nearly twice as much - as those with adequate levels. These patients also reported worse physical functioning and worse overall well-being.
(People with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL were considered to have inadequate amounts.)
It appears that inadequate vitamin D may play a role in creating or sustaining chronic pain, says the lead researcher.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily during the fall and winter months - and all year round if you're over 50 or you don't expose your skin to sunlight (without sunscreen) in the summer months.
Supplements are an important source of vitamin D as it's impossible to get the recommended amount from food alone.
To determine the dose of vitamin D you need to take, add up how much you're already getting from your multivitamin and calcium supplements. Choose a vitamin D supplement that contains vitamin D-3, instead of vitamin D-2, which is less potent.
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