Vitamin D’s ties to autoimmune and age-related fatigue

Fatigue can be a minor inconvenience or a huge downer impacting the quality of your life.

You might feel fatigued after a long day of activities or a long night of poor sleep.

But if daily fatigue is your constant companion, the cause may be a condition that’s zapping your energy or a vitamin deficiency — or both.

There’s a large amount of research on the connection between vitamin D and fatigue — particularly, how low vitamin D levels can bring on the debilitating fatigue that is part of a range of conditions — including aging.

For that reason, a group of Italian researchers decided to dig into it and shed light on the mechanisms behind vitamin D’s connections to fatigue…

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The energy vitamin

Vitamin D is not a cure. But a growing body of evidence has emerged indicating the vitamin’s involvement in various processes in the body.

So it’s not surprising that hypovitaminosis D — a deficiency or insufficiency of vitamin D — has been previously linked to heart trouble, neurodegeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

The Italian researchers accessed scientific studies in the databases of PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science and reviewed factors that play a role in the genesis of fatigue, where the influence of vitamin D has also been demonstrated. 

Here are some of their findings…

Fibromyalgia. There’s no proof of a causal link between low vitamin D levels and the debilitating fatigue of fibromyalgia. Conversely, though, studies have shown a significant improvement in fatigue with higher vitamin D levels.

Autoimmune disorders. Studies offer mixed results regarding whether vitamin D improves fatigue in autoimmune disorders. However, researchers advocate testing their vitamin D levels since low blood levels are frequent among them, and treatment has resulted in a significant decrease in fatigue severity.

Most of the studies on vitamin D and autoimmune conditions have been on reducing the occurrence of autoimmune diseases.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Most of the research for review on CFS focused on reducing pain and that presented a challenge during the review. However, a meta-analysis revealed low blood levels of vitamin D present in patients with fibromyalgia, and another study clearly demonstrated that correcting the deficiency improved the fatigue symptom.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The researchers noted that a good response against fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients when supplemented with vitamin D has been documented.

Aging. This review uncovered a significant body of research supporting a correlation between correcting low levels of vitamin D and the improvement of fatigue in elderly patients. In fact, this correlation was greater than in any of the other conditions examined.

That may be due in part to vitamin D’s role in regulating the development of an anti-aging protein known as klotho. When we’re young, our kidneys produce lots of this protein. But as we age, that production slows.

Klotho exerts anti-aging effects by increasing oxidative stress tolerance and preventing ROS overproduction.

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Can vitamin D help your fatigue?

To sum up the review’s findings, Vitamin D affects fatigue through three main methods:

  • it reduces the oxidative stress that’s associated with conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and even aging.
  • it regulates fatigue-related neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
  • it reduces levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins that signal the immune system to produce inflammation)

Could vitamin D help fight fatigue levels if you’re relatively healthy? That’s an easy one…

Apparently, a lot of us complain about feelings of fatigue when we see our primary care physicians. So one such group was put to the test.

One hundred and seventy-four adult patients, who presented in a primary care office with fatigue and stable chronic medical conditions completed fatigue assessment questionnaires.

Low vitamin D levels were discovered in 77.2 percent of the patients who complained of fatigue. Those patients received supplement therapy for 5 weeks.

After their levels were normalized, their fatigue symptoms improved significantly!

Your doctor can check your levels if you’re unsure of your D status, but you should know that insufficiency is prevalent in about 45 percent of the adult population. Supplementing vitamin D, or vitamins in general, is effective and safe as long as you don’t take more than directed.

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Association between vitamin D supplementation and fatigue — News Medical Life Sciences

Vitamin D and Its Role on the Fatigue Mitigation: A Narrative Review — Nutrients

Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue — Pub Med Central

Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study (EViDiF Study) — National Library of Medicine

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.