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Pain Management Health Center

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Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Pain

Study Shows Limited Sun Exposure Has Health Benefits

Patients Should Be Tested continued...

All of the African Americans, East Africans, Hispanics, and Native Americans who participated in the study were vitamin D deficient, as were all of the patients under the age of 30.

The researcher says it was a big surprise that the worst vitamin D deficiencies occurred in young people -- especially women of childbearing age. The findings are reported in the December issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"The message here is that unexplained pain may very well be linked to a vitamin D deficiency," Plotnikoff tells WebMD. "My hope is that patients with unexplained pain will be tested for vitamin D status, and treated, if necessary."

Food and Pills

Although it is possible to get vitamin D through foods or supplements, both researchers say it is not easy. A glass of fortified milk or fortified orange juice has about 100 international units (IU) of vitamin D and a multivitamin typically has 400 IU. Holick believes most people need about 1000 IU of vitamin D each day. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D varies with age, sex, and various medical conditions but in general is 200-600 IU per day.

Other sources of vitamin D include:

  • Cod Liver Oil. 1 tablespoon=1360 IU of vitamin D
  • Salmon. 3 ounces=425 IU of vitamin D
  • Herring. 3 ounces=765 IU of vitamin D
  • Sardines. Canned, 3 ounces=255 IU of vitamin D

Multivitamin supplements commonly provide 200-400 IU of vitamin D daily.

He says a light-skinned person wearing a swimsuit at the beach will have absorbed about 20,000 IU of vitamin D in the time it takes their skin to get lightly pink.

The amount of sun exposure needed to get the proper dose of vitamin D depends on a person's skin type, where they live, and time of year, and time of day the exposure occurs. Holick says it is difficult for people living in northern climates to get the vitamin D they need from the sun in the winter, but in the summer a light-skinned person at the beach should get all the vitamin D they need in about five minutes.

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