December 22, 2014
299 Statins, Muscle Pain & Vit. D [22 December 2014]
A commonly reported side effect of statin (cholesterol-lowering) drug therapy is musculoskeletal pain, called statin-induced myalgia (SIM), affecting 10-20% of patients. Another side effect is the blockage of the metabolic pathway that produces coenzyme Q10, necessary for the production of energy in the form of ATP in the mitochondria of our cells. It is generally believed that this reduction in Q10 is responsible for the muscle pain and fatigue experienced by many statin users. And indeed, taking coenzyme Q10 does reduce or eliminate the pain in most people.
Muscle pain is also a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. So it’s not too surprising to learn that studies have found a correlation with vitamin D status and muscle pain in people using statins. Two studies in 2014 examined this relationship.
The first, published in the journal PLOS ONE in March, followed 5,526 adults for 7 years and measured the vitamin D status when they began statin drug therapy. The risk of developing muscle pain was strongly correlated with vitamin D status; 21% higher for those with the lowest levels compared to the highest. The D level at which the greatest change occurred was 15 ng/ml (37.5 nmol/L). Note that this is about half the minimum vitamin D level recommended by some for optimum health – see my post #295 last month. Significantly, some of the participants with low D levels did not experience muscle pain until starting statin therapy, suggesting that it is the SIM that the D prevented, not general muscle pain.
The more recent study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis in December, compared the rate of pain reported in 1,057 statin users and 4,850 non-statin users, for which vitamin D blood levels were available. The researchers found the risk of developing muscle pain was 90% higher (nearly double) for those with D levels below 15 ng/ml. Interestingly there was no significant difference in pain reported between the statin users and non-users for those with D levels higher than 15 ng/ml.
More research is being done but I wouldn’t wait. If I was taking a statin drug, in addition to supplementing with Q10, I would make sure my D levels were adequate.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. See this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.