(NaturalNews) Vitamin D insufficiency may increase a woman's risk of chronic pain, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Child Health in London and published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
"If I had chronic pain I would certainly check I was getting enough vitamin D," researcher Elina Hyppönen said.
The researchers measured the vitamin D levels of 7,000 British men and women of the average age of 45 and surveyed them about lifestyle factors and chronic pain. They found that women who had insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood were significantly more likely to suffer from chronic pain than women who had higher levels.
Among women whose vitamin D levels fell between 75 and 99 millimoles per liter, only 8 percent experienced chronic pain. In contrast, 14.4 percent of women who had vitamin D levels lower than 25 millimoles per liter suffered from chronic pain.
Ninety-nine millimoles per liter is the vitamin D level considered necessary to maintain proper bone health. Deficiency can lead to a painful bone softening disease known as osteomalacia, and can increase the risk of osteoporosis. The researchers noted that higher osteomalacia rates were not responsible for the elevated incidence of chronic pain seen in the study, however.
No connection was found between vitamin D status and chronic pain in men. Among both women and men, being overweight or underweight, smoking, and abstaining from alcohol were all correlated with a higher risk of chronic pain.
Because of the sex difference, the researchers speculated that some interaction between vitamin D and hormones might be involved in chronic pain risk.
Vitamin D is synthesized naturally by the body upon exposure to sunlight, and is also regularly added to many staples such as grain and dairy products. For those who choose to up their vitamin D levels with dietary supplements, Kate MacIver of the Pain Research Institute at Liverpool University warned that the vitamin can be dangerous in very high doses.