Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, April 2018

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 38 Vitamins APRIL 2018 VITAMIN D FOR PAIN Studies show vitamin D can be part of an alternative approach to pain therapy. BY IRFAN QURESHI, ND A signif cant percentage of the gen- eral population suf ers from chronic pain due to adverse health issues. Chronic widespread pain (CWP), for in- stance, can be caused by f bromyalgia and other musculoskeletal conditions. A recent meta-analysis looking at the prevalence of CWP in the general population estimated that 10%-15% of individuals population- wide experience CWP 1 . Other estimates put the prevalence of chronic pain among older adults at over 40%. 2 CWP includes dif use musculoskeletal pain that is longstanding in nature and often accompanied by other symptoms, including psychological distress, fatigue, and poor concentration. Standard treatment of CWP and other pain syndromes has largely focused on the use of analgesic and anti-inf ammatory drugs, including opioids, which are com- monly prescribed 3 but which have limited ef ectiveness and can lead to serious long- term abuse and addiction. Opioids are now the most commonly prescribed class of med- ications in the United States; however, over a third of drug overdose deaths reported in 2013 were attributable to pharmaceutical opioids. T e rate of opioid addiction has also skyrocketed in recent years, with estimates even as far back as 2014 suggesting that ad- diction impacts upwards of 2.5 million U.S. adults. 2 T ese staggering f gures attest to the urgency of better identifying root causes of chronic pain conditions. It also highlights the general appeal of developing pain thera- pies that are ef cacious, yet safe and with reduced potential for abuse. Mechanisms of Vitamin D in Chronic Pain Several recent studies have looked at the relationship between pain and vitamin D status. A number of research groups have found that vitamin D def ciency could be linked to higher levels of perceived pain in those suf ering from various types of chronic pain conditions. Others are looking to see whether supplementation with vitamin D SHUTTERSTOCK.COM/ TRIOCEAN

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