Vitamin D, the superfood for muscles and bones, performs many vital functions in our body. It strengthens bones by helping our bowel absorb calcium, phosphorus and key minerals that are crucial for the health of bones. Popular among people as the sunshine vitamin, it helps muscles produce movements and nerves carry messages throughout our body.
Deficiency of vitamin D gives rise to many health issues like softening of bones, weak and fatty muscles and adverse alterations in immune system functioning. Deficiency in children can cause a specific bone condition called rickets. In this condition, children suffer from bone weakness, deformed limbs, and other skeletal deformities. In adults, lack of adequate amount of vitamin D results in fragile bones and muscular weakness.
What Exactly Is Vitamin D?
Like all other vitamins, vitamin D is essential for the well-being of our body. But vitamin D is a particularly important nutrient that body can’t produce itself and relies on external sources, like food and sunlight.
Since the body fulfills most of its vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, it is also known as a sunshine vitamin. Just 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight without sunscreen will give enough dose of this essential vitamin to your body. Remember, 10-20 minutes only!
Food is generally a minor source of this vitamin. The major food sources of vitamin D include milk, green vegetables, egg yolk, dairy products, fatty fish and some cereals. However, even these food sources contain only small quantities of Vitamin D. The bulk is obtained from sunlight.
How Much Vitamin D We Need?
The amount of vitamin D required by our body varies according to age and physical circumstances:
- 600 IU (International units per day for people ages between 1 to 70 years. It also includes pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- 800 IU for people who are above 70 years.
These levels are actually very hard to obtain unless you get sunlight every day.
Impact of Vitamin D Deficiency on Chronic Back Pain and Sciatica
Sciatica is a collection of symptoms that are caused by an injury/irritation and subsequent inflammation that occurs in the sciatica nerve, the largest nerve in our body. This nerve roots in the spinal cord near the lower back and extend through the buttock area, stretching the nerve down the lower limbs.
Sciatic pain begins as chronic lower back pain and radiates through the thigh and down below the knees. Chronic inflammation or irritation in this spinal cord nerve causes this pain and lack of mobility.
Low vitamin D levels are strongly associated with chronic back pain, which leads to disability and negatively affects the quality of life. Up to 80% individuals suffering from sciatica are unable to identify the exact cause of the problem, making it challenging to address it properly.
The research published in the Journal of Endocrinology found that the sunshine vitamin can help patients struggling chronic back pain and sciatica. The researchers discovered that there is evidence that suggests that vitamin D in its biologically active form stimulates anti-inflammatory response generated by the immune system, which results in reduced pain sensory signals and improves sleep quality.
Moreover, studies have reported that people suffering from back pain and sciatica are found to have lower levels of Vitamin D in their bodies compared to people without back pain; further strengthening the link between vitamin D and sciatica.
Overall, current clinical guidelines suggest that a good level of vitamin D in the body is very beneficial to dealing with chronic back pain and associated sciatica. Backing up your body with this muscle- and bone-healthy nutrient also reduces the risk of osteoporosis as we grow older. Unless you get 10-20 minutes of sunlight per day (on most areas of your body) regularly, you should opt for a quality vitamin D supplement.
P.S. Two Things You NEED to KNOW when selecting a Vitamin D Supplement
If you opt for vitamin D supplements, keep these two points in mind (or ask your pharmacist/doctor if in doubt):
1. Never take Vitamin D Without Vitamin K2
Just as important as vitamin D is taking vitamin K2! Taking Vitamin D without vitamin K could actually be harmful to your health.
When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. Vitamin D gets calcium into your blood and Vitamin K gets it to the bones and prevents the calcium from accumulating in your arteries, kidneys or heart.
You don’t want rogue calcium going to the wrong places, causing joint stiffness or arterial plaque. Vitamin K2 insures that your body uses calcium properly.
2. Get a clinically absorbable form of Vitamin D
A number of cheaper brands of Vitamin D on the market are not absorbable to significant levels. When vitamin D cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate and you will not get the benefits.
There are a number of good brands out there and your pharmacist or doctor will be able to recommend a suitable one. Personally I am using PuraTHRIVE Vitamin D3 + Vitamin K2as it ticks all the boxes – it contains vitamin D at the best absorbable form (liposomal D3), is combined with vitamin K2 at the optimal ratio, and is produced in an FDA-Registered Facility. Both me and my family have been using 8 pumps of this daily for over a year and our blood vitamin D levels always come up at the optimal level.
Author: Johnson, Glen