International Health News

Vitamin D deficiency implicated in severe muscle disease

BUFFALO, NEW YORK. Medical doctors at the State University of New York report five cases of vitamin D deficiency which debilitated its victims to such as extent that they became wheelchair-bound due to severe myopathies (muscle disease) involving shoulder and hip muscles. The five patients had been given various diagnoses for their conditions ranging from diabetic neuropathy to osteoporosis. Detailed clinical investigations showed that all five patients suffered from a severe vitamin D deficiency accompanied by elevated parathyroid hormone concentrations. The patients were treated with 50,000 IU of oral ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) once a week for six weeks. At the end of the treatment all patients were fully mobile and no longer needed their wheelchairs.

The doctors speculate that myopathies caused by chronic vitamin D deficiency contribute to immobility and ill health in a significant number of patients in the northern United States and Canada. Vitamin D deficiency is also common in the United Kingdom and in Northern Europe and is attributed to a lack of sun exposure. The doctors point out that a vitamin D deficiency should be suspected in patients complaining of muscle weakness and aches and pains in their bones. They also report that they have seen milder cases of vitamin D deficiency which had been diagnosed as fibromyalgia, depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. Editor's Note: Excessive use of sunscreens undoubtedly contributes to vitamin D deficiencies as sunscreens prevent the skin from generating vitamin D (80 per cent of the body's vitamin D supply is generated in the skin).
Prabhala, Anu, et al. Severe myopathy associated with vitamin D deficiency in western New York. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 160, April 24, 2000, pp. 1199- 1203

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