Raleigh NC, Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and vitamin D2, ergocalciferol. Cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol can be ingested from the diet and from supplements.
The best way the body can synthesize vitamin D in the skin from cholesterol when sun exposure is adequate, hence the nickname, “The sunshine vitamin.”
Synthesis from exposure to sunlight and intake from the diet generally attributes to the maintenance of the adequate serum vitamin D concentrations. That’s vitamin D in the blood. A particularly interesting study published in the journal Spine in January, 2003, looked at vitamin D deficiency in chronic lower back pain in Saudi Arabia. Believe it or not, a good percentage of the population, specifically women who wear burkas, do not get enough sunlight, which is your body’s main source of getting vitamin D. The study involved 360 patients, 90% women and 10% men, attending spinal and internal medicine clinics over a six-year period who have experienced lower back pain that had no obvious cause for more than six months.
The patients ranged in age from age 15 to 52 years old. The researchers used lab results to determine if the patients were deficient in vitamin D. Findings showed that 83% of the studied patients had an abnormally low level of vitamin D before treatment with vitamin D supplements. After treatment, clinical improvements in all symptoms were seen in all groups that had a low level of vitamin D.
The study concluded that in 95% of all the patients, vitamin D deficiency is a major contributor to chronic lower back pain in areas where vitamin D deficiency is endemic.
Screening for vitamin D deficiency for those who have chronic back pain should be mandatory.
How much vitamin D should you be getting? By getting small amounts of sunlight daily one can raise their vitamin D levels in the blood, otherwise consider supplementing with 1,000 to 5,000 IUs a day.
Dr. Jeffrey Gerdes, D.C.