If you suffer from body aches and pains from conditions such as arthritis, chronic back pain, or fibromyalgia, you may find your symptoms worsen when the temperatures drop. Winter aches and pains are some of the toughest to deal with since cold air causes the tendons and joints to contract making the pain more pronounced. You’re also less active during the winter when causes joints, tendons, and muscles to stiffen up from lack of use – making the body pains and aches feel even worse. Is there anything you can do to help uncomfortable winter aches and pains that doesn’t involve taking medications?
When it comes to body pains and aches, what you eat plays a role. A deficiency in two components, in particular, can make body pains and aches worse. One vitamin deficiency that’s been associated with generalized pains and aches is vitamin D. According to a report published by Pain Treatment Topics, people who have chronic lower back pain are often found to have low vitamin D levels. Even more compelling is that fact that people with lower back pain who are supplemented with vitamin D frequently experience an improvement in their symptoms.
It’s not just back pain that’s helped by vitamin D Studies have shown that people who complain of generalized, non-specific pains and aches commonly have vitamin D levels and may experience improvement with vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is a known cause of muscle pain and weakness, so it’s not surprising that a deficiency would make some people’s aches and pains worse. This situation becomes even more common in the winter when people are exposed to less sunlight – the primary source of vitamin D. Some studies have even shown that progression of osteoarthritis can be slowed down by keeping vitamin D levels within the high normal range.
Obviously getting enough vitamin D seems to be important for dealing with winter aches and pains; but there’s another nutritional component that may help – omega-3’s.
Omega-3’s are the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel and available for supplementation in the form of fish oil capsules. Some studies have shown that omega-3 supplementation helps the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Another small study found it to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving back and neck pain.
The good news is both vitamin D and omega-3’s are safe for most people to take in moderate doses, although people who have bleeding problems or take blood thinners shouldn’t take supplemental omega-3’s. Although you could get the same effects from sunlight exposure and eating fatty fish, this isn’t practical for everyone especially during the winter months. If you suffer from chronic pains and aches during the winter, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check vitamin D levels and, possibly, starting vitamin D and omega-3 supplements. It’s a safer and more natural solution than taking pain medications.