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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Groups at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency

There's no evidence linking chronic widespread pain in the general population to vitamin D deficiency so it shouldn't be tested routinely.

Routine checking of baseline vitamin D level isn't indicated unless there's any of the following:

  • clinical suspicion
  • abnormalities of bone profile
  • additional physical signs.

In at-risk populations where vitamin D deficiency is suspected, it's reasonable to check vitamin D levels and/or considering an empirical trial of vitamin D therapy according to local guidelines.

However, whether correcting vitamin D will have an impact on widespread pain is less clear-cut. Download the National Osteoporosis Society's publication Vitamin D and Bone Health: A Practical Clinical Guideline for Patient Management (PDF, 902 KB) for more information.

Possible causes of vitamin D insufficiency

Breastfed infants
Sufficiency is dependent on the mother’s vitamin D sufficiency level. Mother's milk typically contains about 25 IU/L of vitamin D.

Older adults
As people age, the skin isn't able to synthesize vitamin D as effectively, and reduced kidney function impacts the ability to convert vitamin D.

Dark skinned people
Melanin in darker skin reduces the ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

Limited sun exposure
Eliminates one of the two possible sources of vitamin D.

Obesity
Vitamin D is fat soluble, which doesn't allow it to circulate as freely.

Anticonvulsants
Antiepileptic medications can affect vitamin D metabolism leading to deficiency.

Other
Gastric bypass patients have less small intestine available to absorb vitamin D.

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