Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in foods, and it also facilitates the absorption of calcium from food. Vitamin D is produced in your skin when it is exposed to the sun. People suffering from vitamin D deficiency may suffer consequences such as rickets in children, weak bones, gum disease, brittle nails, chronic fatigue, syndrome, headaches, migraines, irritability and dizziness or vertigo. To avoid serious symptoms, spend time in sunlight and eat foods that are good sources of vitamin D, including milk, eggs, fish oil, mackerel, sardines, canned salmon, tuna, soy, seaweed, broccoli, molasses, legumes, beans, almonds and oranges.
Tinnitus, Hearing Loss and Vertigo
Vitamin D deficiency and low calcium levels in the ear can lead to inner ear dysfunction that includes hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo, according to an article about “Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and Vertigo,” by Texas physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, Katherine Blanchette M.D., author of “Prevention of the Disease of Aging”.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining your health, but it can be toxic when consumed in large amounts. Large doses can build up in the liver causing vitamin D poisoning, the symptoms of which include headaches and dizziness.
Vertigo is the most troubling symptom of Meniere’s disease, a condition of the inner ear that causes a sensation of fullness in the affected ear, vertigo, dizziness, hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the inner ear. Patients with Meniere’s are usually treated with prescription drugs, but Dr. Blanchette notes that treatment with vitamins has shown some promise.
Some doctors believe the disease may be exacerbated by deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and calcium. In an article on the MotherNature website, Dr. George E. Shambaugh, Jr., professor at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, discusses prescribing a multivitamin/mineral supplement that includes calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and zinc to patients with Meniere’s symptoms, such as vertigo and dizziness. Dr. Shambaugh’s patients report that it helps.
Balance Problems and Falling
Your inner ear is partly responsible for your sense of balance, so ear problems may cause dizziness. Because vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and calcium loss in the bones of the inner ear. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation helps prevent age-related bone loss and reduces the risk of fractures. Part of the benefit of vitamin D in relation to fracture prevention appears to be due to an improvement in balance or muscle strength, which leads to fewer episodes of falling.
In a 2009 study on “Nutritional Status in Relation to Balance and Falls in the Elderly," Dr. Danit Shahar and colleagues at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, investigated the influence of important nutritional elements on the frequency of falls in elderly patients. Deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium affected balance and increased falls. This may in part be a result of the dizziness or vertigo due to inner ear problems caused by these vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
A 2001 study examining the effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on body sway in elderly women, conducted by Dr. Michael Pfeifer of the Institute of Clinical Osteology Gustav Pommer in Germany found that vitamin D supplementation helped to reduce the risk of fractures and age-related bone loss. This benefit of vitamin D seemed to be due to improved balance and muscle strength, which led to fewer episodes of falling.
- “Prevention of the Disease of Aging”; Katherine Blanchette, M.D.; 2007
- MotherNature.com: Stopping the Spinning
- Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: Nutritional Status in Relation to Balance and Falls in the Elderly
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Effects of a Short-Term Vitamin D3 and Calcium Supplementation on Blood Pressure and Parathyroid Hormone Levels in Elderly Women