Vitamin D for Pain

Look­ing for more input on how you can man­age back pain or chron­ic pain?  I’ll get right to the point – con­sid­er your vit­a­min-D lev­els.

Four Facts About Vitamin D for Pain

FACT 1: Many peo­ple in the US are vit­a­min-D defi­cient or have bor­der­line lev­els

Per­haps half of the adults in the US have blood lev­els of vit­a­min D that are sub-opti­mal, if not down­right defi­cient.

Tech­ni­cal­ly, a blood lev­el of 25 (OH)D (that’s the chem­i­cal sym­bol for the major cir­cu­lat­ing form of the vit­a­min) below 30 ng/mL would be con­sid­ered bor­der­line, with any­thing below 20 ng/mL con­sid­ered “D-ficient.”

FACT 2: Low lev­els of vit­a­min D have been cor­re­lat­ed with back pain (and oth­er mus­cle aches and pains too)

Numer­ous sur­veys of patients with back pain and chron­ic pain have turned up the fact that low vit­a­min D lev­els are more like­ly to occur in peo­ple with back pain or oth­er forms of chron­ic mus­cu­loskele­tal pain.

We don’t know the exact rea­sons why vit­a­min D defi­cien­cy cor­re­lates with back pain.  That’s because the role of vit­a­min D in the body is quite com­plex and the vit­a­min plays a part in many inter­nal chem­i­cal process­es.

In fact, most phys­i­ol­o­gists now would pre­fer to rename vit­a­min D and call it a hor­mone (or a pre-hor­mone) rather than a vit­a­min.  But it’s too late for that — we’re stuck with the name “vit­a­min”- D.

One spe­cif­ic role of vit­a­min D we know about is its role in cal­ci­um absorp­tion.  It’s not only good for your back pain, it can also help you main­tain bone mass.

FACT 3: Pro­vid­ing patients with vit­a­min D sup­ple­ments can often reverse back pain

Here’s one exam­ple.  In a study of 360 women with pain, vit­a­min D ther­a­py reduced symp­toms in 96%.

There are oth­er sim­i­lar research stud­ies, too.

FACT4: Sup­ple­men­ta­tion with extra vit­a­min D for pain is safe

Vit­a­min D is stored in your fat cells and you can’t get rid of it in your urine.  So doc­tors were afraid that with heavy-duty sup­ple­men­ta­tion, vit­a­min D lev­els could rise too high.

That’s hypo­thet­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble.  But the gen­er­al lev­el of alarm about over­do­ing vit­a­min D sup­ple­ments has qui­et­ed con­sid­er­ably.  Very few cas­es of vit­a­min D tox­i­c­i­ty are ever report­ed.

On the oth­er hand, don’t go nuts with the vit­a­min bot­tle.  Rea­son­able Vit­a­min D sup­ple­men­ta­tion is often a good thing.  But twice as much of a good thing isn’t twice as good.

What You Should Do Now

You have two choic­es.

  1. The first is to see your doc­tor and have your vit­a­min D lev­els checked.  Then base your strat­e­gy on what the blood tests show.
  2. A sec­ond strat­e­gy might also make sense.  You can just start tak­ing a rea­son­able dose of vit­a­min D and see if your symp­toms improve.  Don’t be impa­tient though.  Vit­a­min sup­ple­ments don’t usu­al­ly cre­ate a dra­mat­ic bang right off the bat.  You’ll have to stick with it for a month or two before you eval­u­ate your results.

If I decide to take a vit­a­min D sup­ple­ment with­out hav­ing my blood lev­els test­ed first, how much is safe to take?

If you’re known to be defi­cient, many doc­tors rec­om­mend a dai­ly dose of up to 10,000 IU (Inter­na­tion­al Units) of vit­a­min D.   Once the blood lev­els rise to an accept­able lev­el, the plan is to switch to per­haps 2,000 units per day for long-term main­te­nance.

So if you want to try vit­a­min D sup­ple­ments with­out hav­ing your blood test­ed first, one rea­son­able approach is to try a sup­ple­ment of 2,000 IU dai­ly.  It would be unusu­al to accu­mu­late too much tis­sue vit­a­min D with this approach.

It might take quite a while for you to see results, par­tic­u­lar­ly if your sys­tem was sig­nif­i­cant­ly deplet­ed of vit­a­min D to begin with.  If you’re impa­tient to see results, per­haps you should try choice #1 and see your doc­tor.

What type of vit­a­min D sup­ple­ment should I take?

There are two forms of vit­a­min D com­mon­ly found in our diet – D2 (ergo­cal­cif­er­ol) and D3 (chole­cal­cif­er­ol).  D3 is the type of vit­a­min D your body man­u­fac­tures when you expose your skin to sun­light.

Though it’s hard to prove that such fine-tun­ing is impor­tant, many health author­i­ties rec­om­mend that you use a sup­ple­ment con­tain­ing the vit­a­min in the D3 form, since the body process­es it into the active form of the vit­a­min more effi­cient­ly.



Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Exten­sive med­ical sum­ma­ry of the cur­rent state of our vit­a­min D knowl­edge

Nutri­tion sup­ple­ments vs. phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for low back pain

Vit­a­min D2 vs D3

New research: low vit­a­min D may be the result of poor health, not the cause of it



About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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2 Responses to Vitamin D for Pain

  1. Pingback: Vitamin D2 Vs D3

  2. George Blomme says:

    Good sim­ple rem­e­dy Ron.

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