Research shows vitamin D deficiency leads to opioid cravings –
Vitamin deficiency could trigger opioid addiction.
New research shows that vitamin D deficiency increases cravings and the effects of opioid drugs. This means that being deficient could lead to an increased risk of opioid dependence and addiction. The same study has linked vitamin D deficiency to sun-seeking behavior.
“Even a modest rescue from vitamin D deficiency could be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of opioid dependence, especially since vitamin D is generally inexpensive, accessible and safe,” research team wrote. Their study was published online on June 11 in Scientists progress.
To study their hypothesis that deficiency leads to food cravings, researchers first looked at two sets of data already available. The first round included 20,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The second included 3,000 patients admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) during the two-year period between 2014 and 2016 for an opioid use disorder (OUD).
In the first data set, patients with vitamin D deficiency “were 50% more likely to use opioid pain relievers compared to patients with normal vitamin D levels”, and those who were deficient “were 90% more likely to take opioids ”.
“Finding support for the association between low vitamin D intake and opioid use in two independent data sets shows that this may be something that deserves further investigation,” according to the physician-researcher and author principal of the MGH, Lajos Kemény.
Next, the team turned to mice to take a closer look at the patterns in the clinical data. They either fed mice a low-vitamin diet for two months or developed transgenic mice lacking the vitamin D receptor. “Half of the diet-deficient mice returned to a normal diet for an additional eight weeks before examining how they reacted to morphine, ”the study said.
The mice are placed in a multi-compartment chamber and trained to anticipate morphine in one. The researchers measured how long they spent inside the morphine chamber. Mice deficient in vitamin D were four times more sensitive to food cravings “on average for all doses” tested “regardless of how vitamin D deficiency was induced.”
“We have found that the modulation Vitamin D the levels alter multiple behaviors of UV and opioid dependence, ”Kemény said.
“They did a lot of very sophisticated work,” said W. Michael Hooten, a pain medicine researcher and clinician at the Mayo Clinic who was not involved in the study. “I really think that’s the strength of this article, because either of these two datasets could stand alone as an independent publication, yet they did combine the two.”
Abdella Mohammed Habib, Clinical Biochemist at Qatar University, said: “Overall, the team’s work is a fantastic achievement as it highlights the role of vitamin D and unravel some of the molecular mechanisms and environmental factors involved in regulation [nociception] using mice and humans. It builds well on solid previous experimental data and provides a push to identify the role of vitamin D in the pain signaling pathway.