Cancer patients: Could this nutrient help eliminate pain and fatigue?

I never need a reason to tell you to take your vitamin D—it’s been a mainstay of my desert island supplement list for years now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. 

Still, convincing the rest of the world to take vitamin D deficiency even just half as seriously as I do has been an uphill battle, to say the least. (As you’ll recall, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) still won’t recommend universal screening, despite reams of research to support it.) 

So when I come across a new study exposing the risks of deficiency—and the benefits of reversing it—I’m always going to share. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here today… 

Deficiency is a very real pain 

This randomized, placebo-controlled study looked at 244 Swedish cancer patients receiving palliative care at home between 2017 and 2020. All of the patients were deficient in vitamin D when the study started.  

For twelve weeks, they received either a 100 mcg (4,000 IU) supplement or a placebo. Meanwhile, researchers also measured changes in opioid doses to gauge improvements in pain. 

Ultimately, patients treated with vitamin D saw a significantly slower increase in opioid doses compared to controls. They also suffered less cancer-related fatigue. (Both of which are pretty significant benefits!) 

Granted, this research took place in a very specific population—one that doesn’t necessarily represent the majority of patients who struggle with chronic pain. 

But given the widespread nature of both vitamin D deficiency and opioid use, I can’t be the only one who thinks that these results deserve some serious attention. Plus, it’s not the first study to suggest these types of benefits… 

Current recommendations are criminal 

At least one previous (but smaller) study showed that vitamin D could cut opioid doses, reduce antibiotic use, and boost the quality of life of advanced cancer patients. And it all makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.  

Research has shown that people without sufficient vitamin D blood levels simply can’t manage inflammation properly—which would explain why deficiency has such strong ties to pain (not to mention other inflammatory conditions, like heart disease and cancer).   

So if you ask me, the current recommended doses are nothing short of criminal. Even the amount used in the new study—100 mcg (4,000 IU)—is below the minimum most people should be taking, especially if you’re starting with insufficient levels to begin with. 

Instead, I typically recommend a daily dose of 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin D3 to everyone—but that recommendation jumps as high as 250 mcg (10,000 IU) if your levels are low. (That’s the dose I take.) And with regular monitoring, I assure you that it’s perfectly safe. 

Just get your blood levels of vitamin D screened every six months. I consider optimal levels to be 80 to 100 ng/mL. And then, start supplementing appropriately from there, to reach and maintain optimal levels.    

To learn more about the amazing, science-backed benefits of vitamin D, be sure to become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, Logical Health AlternativesA quick search of the archives will turn up various sources… including my desert island supplement list (August 2020 issue)—as well as how a severe D deficiency may be contributing to back pain (September 2020 issue). Click here to subscribe today!  


“Vitamin D reduces the need for opioids in palliative cancer.” Science Daily, 08/05/2021. (