Last time, we talked about the benefits of magnesium for holistic pain relief. Today we’ll discuss the role Vitamin D plays in pain and pain relief.
According to Medicine.net, there are two forms of vitamin D, known as D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, comes from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, comes from fortified foods, animal foods (fish, eggs, and liver), and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Also what makes vitamin D unique compared to other vitamins, says the Vitamin D Council, is that when your body gets its vitamin D, it turns vitamin D into a hormone. This hormone is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.”
In general, Americans are quite deficient in Vitamin D, as levels have plummeted over the last two decades. Part of this is due to our consciousness about skin cancer and sunscreen use. And it’s also because we just aren’t outside as much as a society. We’ve begun to exercise inside, drive instead of walk, and to spend hours in front of computers. These habits have all changed our natural exposure to sunlight and thus, our bodies’ ability to make more Vitamin D.
In a study published in 2003, 150 people with chronic pain-related symptoms were tested for Vitamin D levels. 93% of them had barely detectable amounts of Vitamin D in their bodies.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that Vitamin D “deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning.”
What does this mean for you? It means that increasing your body’s vitamin D levels may help manage or relieve your chronic pain. The best ways to increase vitamin D are supplementation and some time in the sun.
You may want to ask your health care provider to test your vitamin D3 levels before you start, so you have a baseline (and just in case you may have enough already).
According to the Vitamin D Council, the amount of vitamin D you get from exposing your bare skin to the sun depends on:
- The time of day – your skin produces more vitamin D if you expose it during the middle of the day.
- Where you live – the closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for you to produce vitamin D from sunlight all year round.
- The color of your skin – pale skins make vitamin D more quickly than darker skins.
- The amount of skin you expose – the more skin your expose the more vitamin D your body will produce.
In terms of supplementation, the recommended amounts vary depending on who’s setting the standards. For adults, they vary from 600 IU (international units) to 5,000 IU each day. Some experimentation and testing along the way can help you determine what works for you.
When you do take vitamin D supplements, be sure to buy D3 not D2. And you may want to get a capsule with oil or even just drops in oil. When the vitamin D is taken with a higher-fat meal or with oils, your body will absorb it more effectively.
Here’s to holistic pain relief!
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