A Miraculous Treatment for Chronic Pain? |

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51.6 million U.S. adults (20.9%) struggle with arthritis or other chronic pain conditions, and experts are continually searching for new, effective treatments. But what if finding relief were as simple as getting more vitamin D and sleep? That’s what recent research published in the Journal of Endocrinology suggests. 

Read on to discover the potential benefits of vitamin D for osteoarthritis and chronic pain, and how combining this nutrient with sleep hygiene may be just what the doctor ordered.

Vitamin D for osteoarthritis and other painful conditions 

Vitamin D has long been recognized for its important role in bone health, but new research suggests it can be a powerful pain reliever. 

This new study from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil found that people with sufficient vitamin D levels report milder symptoms of painful chronic conditions, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic back pain

But how does vitamin D help with pain? Its role is twofold; by reducing inflammation and boosting the health of nerves throughout the body, vitamin D helps diminish pain signals from chronic as well as neuropathic pain, which results from nerves miscommunicating pain to the brain.

Now, let’s look at another important factor in pain relief: sleep.

The link between sleep and pain

Sleep isn’t just for recharging your batteries; it’s a crucial piece of any effective pain management strategy–especially for chronic conditions like osteoarthritis. 

Studies show that sleep deprivation can exacerbate pain, increasing sensitivity and discomfort by ramping up inflammation and lowering your pain threshold. On the other hand, quality sleep helps lower inflammation in the body and boosts your pain tolerance.

The science behind this involves cytokines, protein messengers that help control inflammation and signal your immune system to work properly. Your body releases cytokines while you sleep, so if you don’t get enough rest, fewer cytokines are released, stirring up inflammation and pain. 

Sleep deprivation can also lead to an imbalance of growth hormones and melatonin, both of which are vital for tissue repair and pain control.

There are some compelling scientific reasons why combining vitamin D with quality sleep is an even more effective pain management strategy.

Vitamin D and sleep: a winning combination for pain management

Beyond reducing inflammation and improving nerve health, vitamin D further helps manage pain by positively affecting sleep quality. It does this mainly by regulating melatonin, a key hormone involved in modulating your circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle.

The relationship between vitamin D, sleep, and pain is complex, involving the body’s immunological and neurobiological pathways. These pathways involve a sophisticated exchange between your immune system and nervous system, affecting everything from how immune cells interact with your brain, to the impact of hormones and neurotransmitters on immune function. 

But in essence, higher vitamin D levels can improve your sleep and pain tolerance, and good sleep hygiene can, in turn, amplify the body’s natural ability to lower inflammation, heal and repair.

Next, let’s discuss some specific strategies for using these two natural pain-relieving powerhouses.

Getting more vitamin D and sleep for pain relief

Some of the best sources of vitamin D include:

  • Sun exposure (just make sure to practice proper sun protection, such as wearing a broad-spectrum, mineral sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, long-sleeved clothing, and wide-brimmed hat)
  • Vitamin-D-containing foods like mushrooms, salmon, and eggs
  • Vitamin D3 supplements (these are more easily absorbed than D2)

How much vitamin D you need for pain depends on several factors, so it’s best to check with your healthcare provider for a personalized recommendation. But here is a general guide:

  • Infants up to 12 months old should get 400 international units (IU).
  • People aged 1 to 70 should aim for 600 IU.
  • Adults over 70 may need as much as 800 IU.

And to harness the pain-relieving power of sleep, prioritize lifestyle habits that support quality rest, such as:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Waking up at the same time each day
  • Creating a relaxing bedroom environment that is cool and comfortable
  • Unwinding before bedtime with relaxing activities, such as drinking chamomile tea, reading, and/or meditating

Vitamin D and sleep as part of a holistic pain management strategy

The combination of vitamin D and sleep can be a powerful path to living with less pain from osteoarthritis and other conditions. And they can offer even more relief when used in conjunction with exercise–not just for pain management, but for overall health and well-being.

Here are some physical activities found to be particularly helpful for those with chronic pain: 

  • Walking, which helps maintain joint flexibility and cardiovascular health
  • Low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling, which improve endurance and joint mobility without adding stress
  • Strength training exercises (such as lifting weights), which build muscle around joints to provide better support and reduce strain
  • Yoga and Pilates, which increase flexibility, core strength, and balance, while also offering mental relaxation benefits

By adopting a vitamin-D-rich diet and supplement regimen, prioritizing restorative sleep, and engaging in pain-relieving physical activities, you’ll be well on your way toward the path of greater calm and comfort in your body. Try incorporating these strategies, and see what a difference they can make in your life and sense of well-being.


Chronic Pain Among Adults — United States, 2019–2021 | MMWR

OA Prevalence and Burden – Osteoarthritis Action Alliance.

The interfaces between vitamin D, sleep and pain in

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Vitamin D Sources, Metabolism, and Deficiency: Available Compounds and Guidelines for Its Treatment – PMC

What is Fibromyalgia? – Symptoms & Treatment | NIAMS

Vitamin D and Pain: Vitamin D and Its Role in the Aetiology and Maintenance of Chronic Pain States and Associated Comorbidities

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Vitamin D and Pain: Vitamin D and Its Role in the Aetiology and Maintenance of Chronic Pain States and Associated Comorbidities

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The interfaces between vitamin D, sleep and pain

Calculated free and bioavailable vitamin D metabolite concentrations in vitamin D-deficient hip fracture patients after supplementation with cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol


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