Can vitamin D reduce vertigo symptoms? Maybe. This was the finding of a recent clinical study published in the journal, Neurology. In this review, I'll tell you about this study and what the researchers found. I'll tell you how much vitamin D (and calcium) was used and whether there were any side effects.
What is Positional Vertigo?
Technically called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV, it refers to vertigo that occurs depending on the position of your head. This can be triggered when you tilt your head backward or to the side. The first report dates back to 1921. The cause of BPPV can vary from physical trauma, aging, or damage to the inner ear. Vertigo can accompany tinnitus and Meniere's disease too. One investigation noted that up to 86% of people with BPPV deal with disruptions of work and daily life.
Vitamin D Vertigo Study
Previously, researchers noted some people with vertigo have low vitamin D levels as well as brittle bones. Observations like this probably lead researchers to wonder if low nutrient levels may be connected to positional vertigo. To test this idea, a study was undertaken where 1050 people with a history of BPPV and low vitamin D levels were split into two groups:
- Those who took Vitamin D + calcium (445 people)
- Those who continued their normal lives (512 people)
The supplement group took 400 IU vitamin D and 500 mg calcium carbonate twice a day. This means they took 800 IU vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium per day.
Prior to the study, everyone was checked for their levels of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous and parathyroid hormone. Each month, people were telephoned to see if they had episodes of vertigo, falls, or fractures.
Vitamin D plus calcium reduced occurrences of positional vertigo by about 25%. The greatest effects were seen in people with low vitamin D levels which they describe as being less than 20 ng/ dl. One odd finding was that the combination of supplements did not seem to help in those who also suffered from migraine headaches. It's not known if this was a fluke or real occurrence. More research is needed.
How Does It Help Vertigo?
One theory has to do with the calcium crystals in the inner ear. As bones break down these crystals get stuck in the semi-circular canals of the inner ear. Vitamin D plus calcium might remineralize bone making this less likely.
Watch on my YouTube channel if you prefer
Did they use vitamin D 2 or D3?
The study used vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The specific supplement used was called CAVID CHEWABLE TABS made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
What kind of calcium?
Calcium carbonate was used. Calcium carbonate provides more elemental calcium than other forms like calcium citrate or calcium gluconate. Elemental calcium is what builds bone. In this study, the supplement provided 500 mg of elemental calcium.
I can't find CAVID Chewables
CAVID Chewables, the supplement used in this study, may not be available in all countries. The supplement I found that came closest to this is Caltrate Bone Health Advanced. One tablet of this chewable has 800 IU of vitamin D and 600 mg of calcium carbonate.
Any Side Effects?
The vast majority of the 445 people taking the supplements had no side effects. Most of the side effects reported were GI upset, constipation, and swelling (edema). Two people reported elevated calcium levels.
So Does It Work?
This study is interesting and its nice to see some positive findings for such a perplexing and debilitating disorder. Since both vitamin D and calcium are inexpensive, this might be worth trying. I deal with BPPV positional vertigo myself so I will be experimenting with this to see what happens.