Vitamin D and fibromyalgia
A hormone rather than a vitamin
The importance of vitamin D is without doubt one of the hottest health topics of recent years. In Iceland we had the good fortune of enjoying the presence of Dr. Michael Holick, professor at Boston University, as the main speaker at a conference held in October 2011 on this important vitamin.
Dr. Michael Holick, has spent a large portion of his life´s work researching vitamin D. His research as well as the research of other scholars has revealed that every single cell of the human body contains a receptor for vitamin D and that the vitamin is really a hormone rather than a vitamin. The body produces vitamin D in the skin from sunlight and throughout history most people have been getting their vitamin D through their skin as well as getting some from certain types of food like oily fish, cod liver oil, eggs and mushrooms. If sunscreen is applied our ability to produce vitamin D from sun exposure is greatly diminished.
Are we not getting enough vitamin D?
With increased usage of sunscreen and less consumption of oily fish there has been an increase in vitamin D deficiency all over the world. In his book „The Vitamin D Solution“, published in 2011, Dr. Holick explains the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the consequences of such a shortage. He states that at least 50% if not 90% of the American population is suffering from a shortage of vitamin D and that the situation could be described as an outbreak. The book also states that vitamin D shortage is in deed the most serious disease in the world and is connected to disease prevention and in many cases the treatment of diseases like heart diseases, cancer, stroke, infectious diseases, diabetes, depression, insomnia, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, MS and high blood pressure. It has also been shown that those who suffer from obesity are more often than not suffering from severe vitamin D deficiency that can keep the vicious cycle of obesity going.
Vitamin D and Fibromyalgia
One of the most serious forms of vitamin D deficiency known is a disease that most people think of as a disease of the past; or rickets. In the last few years there has been an increase in confirmed cases of rickets in the US and Europe, all connected to an increase in vitamin D deficiency. Another disease but less known and also caused by vitamin D deficiency is osteomalacia. Osetomalacia has also been called rickets of adults and is characterized by undefined aches and tenderness of bones and muscles as well as a relentless lack of energy. These symptoms are almost identical to the ones of fibromyalgia and Dr. Holick asserts that osteomalacia is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or even arthritis.
In Dr. Holicks´ experience 40-60% of those who seek his help and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are in reality suffering from osteolamacia caused by vitamin D deficiency. He has been very successful in treating these individuals with high doses of vitamin D and sensible exposure to sunlight. Dr. Holick warns that if physicians do not rule out vitamin D deficiency as a possible cause for undefined aches in muscles and bones the correct treatment can be delayed significantly.