From the Functional Medicine Forum – this little tidbit about a high dose of Vitamin D prior to the menstrual cycle. BE AWARE: Vitamin D is fat soluble – if your levels are above 45, you should NOT do this!

Vitamin D levels are frequently found to be low among the patient population and such insufficiency is related to myriad health conditions. Thus, repletion of D levels is often a goal of functional medicine treatment strategies. Now a new study shows that even in women not conventionally considered to be vitamin D deficient, a one-time megadose of vitamin D can ease menstrual pain for two months and perhaps beyond.

An Italian study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine details a small randomized, placebo-controlled trial of ultra-high dose vitamin D for women with a history of severe menstrual cramps. Twenty women aged 18-40 took a one-time dose of 300,000 IU of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) five days before their next expected period while twenty others received placebo. After two months, patin scores decreased 41% among the treatment group, while there was no significant change in pain scores among the placebo group.

Specifically, fifteen of the women in the treatment group experienced a reduction in self-reported pain scores of at least two points on a standard visual analog 10-point pain scale when compared to their previous four menstrual cycles. The greatest reduction in pain was seen among women who had the highest baseline pain scores. Just four of the placebo group showed any improvement compared to their baseline cycles.

Further, none of the women in the treatment group reported needing to use NSAID pain relievers to treat their menstrual pain while eight in the placebo group reported using NSAIDs.

The women were tested for vitamin D levels before the study and only women with plasma levels below 45ng/ml were allowed to take part. Study participants also could not be taking vitamin D, calcium, or oral contraceptives. They were allowed free used of NSAIDs during the trial but were asked to report their use of such medication.

Menstrual pain is thought to be dependent on uterine prostaglandins, which are synthesized from pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. The authors propose that vitamin D may act as an anti-inflammatory agent in multiple ways, including regulating expression of the genes involved in prostaglandin signalling.

Though the researchers excluded patients with high vitamin D levels, the cutoff of 45 ng/ml is well above the limit for frank deficiency. Thus, it is plausible that a mechanism beyond simple repletion of D levels is responsible for the analgesic effect. There will certainly be more to come from this line of research investigating vitamin D for pain relief.