15 December 2012

Research Suggest Link Between Daytime Sleepiness and Low Vitamin D Levels

A new study suggests that there is a link between excessive daytime sleepiness and low levels of vitamin D in the body.

Vitamin D is a vitamin that is primarily sourced from exposure to sunlight. Few food contains vitamin D except for fish, cereal, and dairy products such as cheese, butter, and milk.

The body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the Sun's ultraviolet rays whihc triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. This process is endrogenous which means that the source is produced from within the body.

Vitamin D is primarily associated with bone development. It used by the body for calcium absorption and maintenance to enable a normal mineralization of the bone and to avoid hypocalcemic tetany. This is a disease caused by low calcium levels in the blood and causes convulsions, muscle spasms and irregular heart rhythms.

Vitamin D is also needed for healthy bone growth and maintenance. Without this vitamin, the bones may go brittle, thin, or misshapen. Most bone conditions caused by a deficiency of vitamin D can be corrected through vitamin D supplements.

Aside from bone maintenance, vitamin D is responsible for cell growth neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D.

The promoted use of sunblock, to avoid skin cancer from overexposure to UV rays, and the tendency to stay indoors longer are contributing factors in cases of vitamin D deficiency.

Link between sleepiness and Vitamin D

New research suggests that race plays an important role in the complex relationship between daytime sleepiness and vitamin D levels

A new study suggests that there is a significant correlation between excessive daytime sleepiness and vitamin D, and race plays an important factor.

Video: Vitamin D and Prevention of Chronic Diseases

Results show that in patients with normal vitamin D levels, progressively higher levels of daytime sleepiness were correlated inversely with progressively lower levels of vitamin D. Among patients with vitamin D deficiency, sleepiness and vitamin D levels were associated only among black patients. Surprisingly, this correlation was observed in a direct relationship, with higher vitamin D levels associated with a higher level of sleepiness among black patients.

"While we found a significant correlation between vitamin D and sleepiness, the relationship appears to be more complex than we had originally thought," said David McCarty, MD, the study's principal investigator. "It's important to now do a follow-up study and look deeper into this correlation."

The study, appearing online in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, involved a consecutive series of 81 sleep clinic patients who complained of sleep problems and nonspecific pain. All patients eventually were diagnosed with a sleep disorder, which in the majority of cases was obstructive sleep apnea. Vitamin D level was measured by blood sampling, and sleepiness was determined using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

According to the authors, this is the first study to demonstrate a significant relationship between sleepiness and vitamin D. They noted that it is logical for race to affect this relationship because increased skin pigmentation is an established risk factor for low vitamin D.

The study was not designed to examine causality. However, the authors' previous and current research suggests that suboptimal levels of vitamin D may cause or contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness, either directly or by means of chronic pain.


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