Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) impairs many people’s quality of life and ability to work. The dizzy spells typically occur when they shift position. According to a study from Korea which is published in Neurology, supplementing with vitamin D and calcium may lower the risk of recurring spells of dizziness. It is important to balance your calcium intake with magnesium.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of dizziness. The disease is characterized by sudden bouts of vertigo when you move your head and it typically happens when you tilt your head backwards or roll over in bed. For unknown reasons, small calcium “stones” inside the ear canals move around and that can affect the sensory cells in the organs of balance.
This falsely signals the brain that the head is in continuous motion. An attack usually takes 10-30 seconds but can last as long as two minutes in some cases. Vertigo can be rather unpleasant and make you feel as if you are seasick or riding a merry-go-round. It is usually accompanied by nausea and involuntary eye movements. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo often results in fall accidents and body injury. A family doctor or ENT specialist should make the diagnosis in order to rule out other diseases that are associated with vertigo.
The regular therapy for BPPV involves making different exercises to reposition the loose calcium stones. It is also possible to make exercises at home that require specific instructions. Many people suffer recurrent attacks, and around 86 percent of patients with this type of vertigo feel that it reduces their quality of life and ability to work.
Vitamin D and calcium – an inexpensive and simple treatment
According to Ji-Soo Kim, a scientist from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea, it appears that supplementation with vitamin D and calcium can reduce new BPPV attacks, especially in patients who are vitamin D-deficient to begin with. This would be a very simple and inexpensive way to treat the problem. A total of 957 Korean BPPV patients took part in the study and were split evenly into an intervention group and a control group. It turned out that 75 percent of the participants in the intervention group were vitamin D-deficient and they all got 10 micrograms of vitamin D and 500 milligrams of calcium twice every day. The participants in the intervention group who had adequate vitamin D levels did not receive supplements. None of the participants in the control group had levels of vitamin D measured and they did not get supplements. After one year, the people in the intervention group who had been taking supplements of vitamin D and calcium had a 24 percent (on average) lower frequency of BPPV attacks compared with the control group. The Korean scientists call their results promising because they represent a very simple solution for a rather common problem. The study is published in Neurology.
Interaction between vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium
Most of our cells have vitamin D receptors (VDR) that regulate around 10 percent of our genes and a host of different metabolic processes. It is commonly known that vitamin D is needed for the uptake of calcium. However, we also need magnesium to help magnesium-containing enzymes activate the form of vitamin D that we get from sun exposure and from supplements. Magnesium is also important due to its function as a door bolt in the cell membranes. This is how magnesium controls that most of the calcium in our blood enters our bone cells, while it keeps calcium out of the cells in soft tissues such as blood vessels, muscles, and nervous tissue. If cells in soft tissues are flooded by calcium, it may result in cramping and other undesirable side effects. Always take calcium and magnesium in combination to avoid this. There is no problem with taking vitamin D independently of other nutrients.
Nah Editorial Staff. Vitamin D & Vertigo. Nutrition Action 2021
Seong-Hae Jeong et al. Prevention of Benign Paroxysmal Position Vertigo with Vitamin D Supplementation: A Randomized Trial. Neurology 2020
Anne Marie Uwitonze, Mohammed S Razzaque. Role of magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2018
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