Corticosteroids, along with other anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs, are commonly used in the management of joint pain and arthritis. In fact, as many as 30% of patients are taking either NSAIDs or some form of a corticosteroid for pain management related to joint pain and stiffness. But what if these medications could be part of the problem? What if they were actually causing vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the body that are known to contribute to pain and muscle weakness. Chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications cause deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin C, B6, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Selenium, Chromium, Iron, and B5. Perhaps the most important one of these deficiencies is Vitamin D. Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment. Many Americans are running low on vitamin D. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 showed that vitamin D levels have plummeted among all U.S. ages, races, and ethnic groups over the past two decades. In March 2009, researchers at the Mayo Clinic published a study showing that patients with inadequate vitamin D levels who were taking narcotic pain drugs required nearly twice as much medication to control their pain as did patients with adequate D levels. The first step to improving pain with vitamin D is GETTING TESTED. Here at LifeXL, we use a very specific vitamin and mineral panel that will tell the physician what your personal deficiencies are, including your vitamin D level. If your Vitamin D level is diminished, DON’T PANIC! There are many things that you can do, both naturally and with supplementation, to improve your levels:
1) Expose yourself – or even just your hands – to sunlight without sunscreen for just 10 to 15 minutes every other day. Although the amount of sunlight required has been debated, the sun activates vitamin D production in your body. So if you stand in the sunlight, sit on a bench or take a quick stroll, you’ve turned on your vitamin D switch. Keep in mind that if you have darker skin, you need more sunlight to spark vitamin D production because darker skin doesn’t absorb sunlight as well as lighter skin.
2) Open a window. If you can’t get outside, sit by an open window or door for a few minutes, because most windows block the part of the sunlight needed to ignite vitamin D production.
3) Go fish. Many types of fish are a good source of vitamin D. Three ounces of wild salmon or Atlantic mackerel can give you the recommended daily amount of vitamin D.
4) Go raw. Raw fish has more vitamin D than its cooked counterparts, so Langston recommends sushi that contains Atlantic herring, mackerel and salmon.
5) Go retro. Remember when cod liver oil was in every medicine cabinet? Well it contains lots of vitamin D and it’s new and improved with mint and fruity flavors. One tablespoon contains as much of this strong-bone nutrient as three servings of salmon or mackerel.
6) Get fortified foods. Some foods, such as cereals, milk, cheese and soy products, have extra vitamin D added in. Read your labels to find the ones with the biggest vitamin D boost.
7) Step it up in winter. When the weather cools off and the days shorten, many people spend less time outside in the sun. Keep this in mind and try to eat more foods rich in vitamin D to compensate.
8) Get tested. Before the daylight diminishes, have your vitamin D levels checked. Langston says restoring proper vitamin D levels takes several months so it’s best to know where you stand before winter hibernation.
9) Know your meds. Read your medication labels and talk to your doctor or pharmacist, so you’ll know if any of your medicines put you at risk for developing vitamin D deficiency or other nutritional issues.
Contact us: Lazo Pipovski, MD, Bethany Kulpeksa, CMA
For Scheduling: Call Sue Meyer, Office Manager
CALL 941.266.4469 OR 941.702.5972
5602 Marquesas Cir, Ste #107, Sarasota, FL 34233
IMPORTANT! All information provided in this article is supposed for informational purposes only rather than for the intended purpose of medical advice. Statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The given information contained herein is not designed to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.