I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on vitamin D because hey, no one is making it right now since we are in the throws of winter. I came across this little gem out of Italy that I wanted to share.
Dysmenorrhea is a condition in which women experience cramping, either during or before menstruation. It may be accompanied by nausea,vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. Many women suffer from 1-2 symptoms all the way to all of them every month. Researchers wanted to see if any of these might be ameliorated with good ol vitamin D.
This is a prospective controlled trial so the results will allow us to conclude if there truly is a difference or not, unlike an epidemiological study which just shows association. Remember that association never ever equals causation. The downside is the sample size is small, only 40 women. It would be great if this study could be replicated on a larger scale with a few thousand women to really get some differences in the sample size to detect a difference that may be more significant. Nonetheless, the results were very encouraging.
40 women, 18-40 years old who had dysmenorrhea and who had vitamin D levels less than 45ng/mL, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. 20 women received 1 dose of vitamin D3 5 days before their next menstrual cycle while the other 20 received placebo. The dose was a whopping 300,000 IU. The women were asked to rate their pain using a visual analog scale (rate your pain from 1-10 type of scale). The researchers also looked at the use of pain meds during the study to see if there was a difference between the groups. They were followed for 2 months.
So what happened? The women with vitamin D had a significant decrease in pain. They noted that women with the most pain at the beginning of the study had the most improvement over those with less initial pain. No women in the vitamin group used NSAIDs while 40% in the placebo group did.
You should be able to click on the graph to make it bigger. The graph on top represents the women in the placebo group. You can see there was really no difference from start to finish. The bottom group is the vitamin D group. Improvements were seen generally across the board in this group.
What does this mean? If you are low on vitamin D, which you probably are if you live in northern latitudes and have dysmenorrhea then vitamin D may be a great way to help your problem. Getting checked is a great place to start just to see where your levels may be. What this study doesn’t tell us is if you supplement with a lower DAILY dose if the same effect would be seen. I tend to think it would, but I don’t really know and can’t say based on this data. Be sure to use D3 and not D2 if you decide this might be an avenue for you.
Lasco A, Catalano A, Benvenga S. Improvement of Primary Dysmenorrhea Caused by a Single Oral Dose of Vitamin D: Results of a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(4):366-367.
Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.