Globally headaches are the most prevalent neurological disorders with around 50% of the general population reporting headaches during any given year with a tension-type headache being the most common.
Vitamin D is a hot topic in medicine today. We know that vitamin D plays a role in bone health and there is some evidence that Vitamin D nutritional supplements may also have a role cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain and cancer to name but a few. There have been several Apple A Day RX blogs on the latest Complementary and Alternative Medicine research studies on Vitamin D such as:
Vitamin D and Pain
A number of studies by Prakash et al suggested a link between a headache and Vitamin D insufficiency.Prakash’s findings showed that there was increased frequency of headache attacks in autumn–winter and least attacks in summer.
Another key Complementary and Alternative Medicine research study by Knutsen KV et al in 2010carried out in a health centre in Oslo, Norway, with a multi-ethnic population showed a link between headaches and low Vitamin D levels in both men and women; frequency of headaches decreased with an increasing level of vitamin D. The Complementary and Alternative Medicine study also revealed:
- Hypovitaminosis D was found in over half of the patients.
- 35% of ethnic Norwegians had hypovitaminosis D
- 83% of patients from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia had hypovitaminosis D with minimal seasonal variation of levels.
- Patients with headaches had the lowest mean vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D and chronic headache
Now a recentComplementary and Alternative MMedicine study from the University of Eastern Finland published in Nature analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headaches in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years.In 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l i.e. vitamin D deficient and chronic headache (at least one per week) occurring at least on a weekly basis was reported by 250 men, and men reporting chronic headache had lower serum vitamin D levels than others.
Furthermore, Vitamin D deficiency is a key issue in Nordic countries such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, where there is limited year-round UVB sunlight exposure. Besides the issue of latitude other risk factors of Vitamin D insufficiency include dark skin pigmentation, use of sunscreen, clothing, air pollution, cloud cover.
How can low levels of Vitamin D cause headaches?
At present, we can only speculate about the proposed mechanism of action of Vitamin D and head pain. Possible roles include Vitamin D anti-inflammatory effect through regulation of interleukin, tumour necrosis factor, and the macrophage activity. Some Complementary and Alternative Medicine researchers such as Prakash have speculated that the presence of vitamin D receptor, 1a-hydroxylase and vitamin D-binding protein in the hypothalamus may cause head pain.
If you do suffer from chronic headaches and pharmaceuticals have not resolved the problem, it is recommended to have your blood tested to determine if you do require Vitamin D Nutritional Supplements.