This past Sunday marked the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere.
This event heralds the arrival of increased sunshine and warmer temperatures. Which is much anticipated after a long, dark winter!
It also marks the arrival of stronger ultraviolet rays.
So, exposing your skin to the springtime (and summertime) sun can once again trigger your skin’s natural production of the all-important vitamin D. And that’s always a good thing!
For one, vitamin D helps protect you against almost every chronic disease on the planet—including cancer, dementia, heart disease, and Type II diabetes.
Plus, two new studies show it can even help prevent—and reverse—the No. 1 cause of pain and disability in the U.S.
Let me explain…
This neglected area of health is finally getting its due
As I often report, mainstream medicine pours most of its attention and funding into the research and treatment of “fatal” diseases—such as cancer and heart disease.
But it woefully neglects non-fatal, chronic conditions like lower back pain. And that’s a shame, because lower back pain causes 2.6 million visits to hospital emergency rooms each year! And it leaves millions of others suffering at home in silence.
Granted, 15 years ago, when I directed the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, we tried to focus some attention onto this neglected area in health…
In fact, as part of my final, federal, medical research grant, I helped organize and lead a team of scientists charged with investigating thousands of international studies on lower back pain treatments.
Our research found clear evidence that drugs and surgery were—by FAR—the worst approaches for this type of pain. Meanwhile, many safe, non-invasive alternatives—including spinal manual therapy, acupuncture, and massage—were far more effective.
Of course, had we known then about the effectiveness of vitamin D for back pain, we would have shared that information, too. But the truth is, the science didn’t exist until recently…
New developments in the treatment and prevention of back pain
Two new studies recently looked at the effect of vitamin D on back pain.
In the first study, researchers followed 65 overweight or obese men and women who were D deficient.
At the outset, the researchers randomly divided the deficient participants into two groups. The first group took an initial oral dose of 2,500 mcg (100,000 IU) of vitamin D followed by 100 mcg (4,000 IU) daily for 16 weeks. (For once, a study actually used a reasonable dose of vitamin D!)
The second group took a placebo.
After 16 weeks, even the men and women with the lowest vitamin D blood levels at the beginning of the study had a “significantly greater reduction” in back pain scores compared to the placebo group.
In the second study, researchers turned their attention to more than 200 postmenopausal women.
To start, they measured vitamin D blood levels. Then, they grouped the women into two broad categories:
- Those who had a “severe” vitamin D deficiency—with blood levels below 10 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL).
- Those who had “normal status”—with levels above 30 ng/mL. (Although, as I’ll explain, recent studies suggest you need MUCH higher blood levels to achieve optimal health.)
Of course, vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in postmenopausal women. Plus, as the researchers found, it relates closely to a number of other serious problems…
In fact, compared with the women in the normal group, the women in the “severe deficiency” group had:
- Lower bone mineral-density scores
- Higher back pain scores
- More severe lumbar disc degeneration
Plus, when it came to disc degeneration, the lower a woman’s vitamin D levels, the greater the problem.
It seems to work by helping to reduce chronic, systemic inflammation and supporting healthy nerves and muscles.
Keep up with supplementation all year round
In the end, these two studies make the case that you can avoid—and even reverse—lower back pain by achieving and maintaining optimal vitamin D blood levels. And, of course, an easy way to do this is through proper supplementation.
Here’s how you can start optimizing your vitamin D levels—starting TODAY—in three simple steps:
- Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels twice a year—once toward the end of winter and again toward the end of summer. It’s a simple blood test called the 25(OH)D (25-hydroxy vitamin D) test. (Optimal blood levels are between 50 and 75 ng/mL.)
- Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen, especially during this time of year. You can gradually add more time each day. If you plan on being outside for an extended period of time, wear some protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Supplement with 250 mcg (10,000 IU) of vitamin D3 daily. You can now find this dose in a convenient, highly-absorbable liquid form together with the potent marine carotenoid, astaxanthin, for added benefits. (For more information, simply type “astaxanthin” into the top right search bar of my website, www.DrMicozzi.com.)
Now, as I mentioned earlier, we’re entering the time of year when most of us spend more time outside in the direct sunlight. So, you might consider taking a “spring break” from supplementing with vitamin D.
But that could be a mistake, as I explain in the June 2021 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“Everything you need to know about proper—and safe—vitamin D supplementation”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now’s the perfect time to become one and receive access this important report.