What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two forms:
- Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3): derived from ultraviolet light penetrating the skin and present in oily fish, such as salmon and tuna.
- Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2): derived from the fungal sterol, ergosterol, and found naturally in sun-dried, shiitake mushrooms. Both forms of vitamin D are used in the fortification of foods and in vitamin D supplements.
When individuals are vitamin D deficient, parathyroid hormone levels in the body increase, causing calcium to be leeched from the bones. This leads to bone weakening, causing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults — patients with osteomalacia have diffuse bone and muscle pain and weakness. When physicians check vitamin D status, they measure 25-hydroxyvitamin D level.
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
A number of medical conditions can predispose individuals to vitamin D deficiency, including malnutrition, kidney or liver disease and gut malabsorption, as in celiac disease.
Low sunlight exposure is also a concern for vitamin D deficiency, especially those who reside in nursing homes or who live in geographical regions with little daylight.
Vitamin D and Head Pain
There may be a link between headaches and vitamin D deficiency, according to the article. In 2009, two researchers in India published a paper in "Headache" — a study on eight patients with both vitamin D deficiency and chronic tension-type headaches, according to the article.
All the patients in the study had very low vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D levels -10ng/mL), and had little to no relief of their headache with conventional medications. The patients were supplemented with daily vitamin D (1000- 1500IU) and calcium (1000mg), and obtained headache relief within a few weeks of therapy.
The researchers felt that the vitamin D — not the calcium — was more essential to headache relief because of the timing of the relief. They explained that calcium levels typically return to normal within a week, but the patients did not feel relief of their headaches for four to six weeks, which is when their vitamin D levels started returning to normal.
In another study in The Journal of Headache Pain, researchers found that with increasing latitude (moving closer to the North and South Pole and farther away from the equator), the prevalence of headaches, both migraines and tension-type headaches, increased.
The increase in latitude (or the farther you get from the equator) correlates with less intense and a shorter duration of sunlight. With less sunlight, there is less vitamin D absorption, so presumably lower levels overall.
What Is a Sufficient Vitamin D Level?
There is no consensus on the optimal level of vitamin D, but most experts believe that a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level under 20 nanograms per milliliter or ng/mL is deficient.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that a link or association does not mean that one causes the other, according to the article. The big picture here is that low vitamin D may contribute to head pain. In other words, headaches may be more common in people who live farther from the equator where there is less sunlight. But this is certainly not a hard and fast rule and more studies — especially large randomized controlled trials — are needed to better articulate this relationship. Joe Petrey Amsoil Dealer 218-349-94487