Vitamin D is found in many foods and is also made in our bodies when we are exposed to ultraviolet light (sunlight). Extreme deficiency in this vitamin results in the disease osteomalacia which causes weakening of bones and muscle aches, but headaches have never been traditionally considered to be related to vitamin D levels.
However, a recent series of case reports published in the journal Headache, suggests that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in causing certain types of headaches. This report outlined the cases of 8 people who all had been suffering from chronic tension type headaches. Tension headaches are different than other headaches such as migraine or cluster headaches, and often times tension headaches do not respond well to medication.
The cases studied in this report looked at patients suffering from chronic headaches that had not improved with traditional medications and, after receiving a thorough examination, showed moderate signs of vitamin D deficiency and osteomalacia.
The patients were given doses of vitamin D ranging from 1000 – 1500 IU/day and calcium doses of 1000mg/day. All patients had complete or marked improvement in their headache symptoms within 4-6 weeks program, and each patient also had improvement of their associated muscle aches.
Case reports are not the strongest form of evidence because they do not prove causation, but they can provide insight into possible correlations. Therefore if you suffer from chronic tension type headaches that have failed to respond to medication, you may be showing signs of vitamin D deficiency and should be sure to talk to your chiropractor or other health care professional about beginning a trial of vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
- Prakash S, Shah ND. Chronic tension-type headache with vitamin D deficiency: casual or causal association? Headache. 2009 Sep;49(8):1214-22.