Fibromyalgia is incredibly common; up to 2-3 % of the populations have it. Like depression, it increasingly appears that vitamin D deficiency is one cause of fibromyalgia. That is, a subgroup of people with fibromyalgia actually has osteomalacia, or adult rickets. However, not everyone with fibromyalgia has osteomalacia and not everyone with fibromyalgia will respond to vitamin D. In fact, I doubt a majority of people with fibromyalgia will respond to vitamin D.
Generally, the studies showing positive results of treating fibromyalgia with vitamin D come from the Middle East, where vitamin D levels of 3-6 ng/ml in veiled women are common. Today, let’s look at a study from Saudi Arabia that was published in early 2012.
It was an open study of 30 women who, unbelievably, had an average vitamin D level of 4.76 ng/ml. Thus, almost by definition, a number of these women must have had osteomalacia. Dr. Noha Abokrysha gave some a single injection of 600,000 IU of vitamin D3 or weekly oral doses of 50,000 IU to others. For reasons of metabolism, I’d predict the 50,000 IU/week group would do better. However, we will have to wait another day for such an important comparison, as the author did not collect that data.
What Dr. Abokrysha did find was that multiple symptoms of fibromyalgia improved dramatically with vitamin D, most to the tune of <0.001 significance, which is a lot for such a small group. Remember however, these women started at osteomalatic vitamin D levels. Studies in the literature finding no effects in fibromyalgia often start with vitamin D levels of 30 ng/ml and then gave inadequate doses to boot.
I wish I could tell the millions of people suffering from fibromyalgia that vitamin D will cure the condition. Except for the subgroup with osteomalacia, I doubt it will. However, one is left with the usual questions. “Should fibromyalgia patients be vitamin D deficient?” Not in my opinion. Furthermore, they should obtain and maintain natural levels, the same levels the Maasai and Hadzabe people of Africa maintain today, about 50 ng/ml.