Treating the anxiety of fibromyalgia the natural way – Many people turn to medication as their first line of defence to treat anxiety but there is a great deal of evidence to show that with the help of mind-body awareness therapy along with the right diet, vitamins and minerals, your brain and body may be able to overcome symptoms of stress, anxiety and milder forms of depression.

Research and studies reveal that many sufferers of fibromyalgia also suffer with varying degrees of anxiety symptoms such as:

Pain and tension in the muscles

Headaches

Digestive problems and IBS

Sweating

Heightened sensitivities and feeling nervous, tense and shaky

Disrupted sleep and difficulties getting off to sleep

Poor concentration and brain fog

Lack of energy and fatigue

Increased heartbeat

Low mood

As you can see the symptoms of fibromyalgia and anxiety are quite difficult to separate.

Many of these symptoms are possibly influenced by stressful situations – living with fibromyalgia is a stressor in its own right.  Other factors are lifestyle and dietary choices and let’s face it there are times when the symptoms are raging and exercise and spending time in the kitchen are the least things on your to-do-list! 

However everyone needs a healthy balanced diet and certain supplements to provide the list of nutrients we need and even more so if you suffer with a chronic condition.  It’s worth considering the possibility of any low-level vitamin or mineral in your diet that may be compromising the health of the brain and exasperating your anxiety. One such deficiency may be Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is fat soluble and best absorbed with other fats.  Despite its name it’s also known as a prohormone or a precursor of a hormone acting as a chemical messenger and potentially affects everything from weight to how each organ functions, including the brain.  

The two major forms are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is largely human-made and added to foods, whereas vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is synthesized in the skin of humans from 7-dehydrocholesterol and is also consumed in the diet via the intake of animal-based foods.

 The NHS new guidelines on food and diet quotes  “The new advice from PHE is that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter.

People who have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency are being advised to take a supplement all year round.” 

QuestionAre you an individual at higher risk of a Vitamin D deficiency?

Bear in mind it’s unlikely that we can get the recommended daily allowance from food alone.  Other factors to consider is time spent outside in the sunshine and the time of year, colour of your skin and whether you wear protective sunscreen.

How long should we spend in the sun?

The NHS reports “Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm. It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements.”

Other factors that inhibit absorption of Vitamin D include medical conditions such as Chron’s disease, Celiac Disease and Malabsorption Syndrome include:

  • damage to the intestine from infection, inflammation, trauma, or surgery and prolonged use of antibiotics
  • other conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, or cystic fibrosis
  • lactase deficiency, or lactose intolerance
  • diseases of the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas
  • parasitic diseases
  • radiation therapy, which may injure the lining of the intestine
  • certain drugs that may injure the lining of the intestine

Fat malabsorption may also be caused by various digestive problems where your stomach is unable to produce the necessary digestive enzymes (enzymes are made from a range of other nutrients).  This is a good reason to make sure that your diet is varied and includes a variety of carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, fibre, healthy fats, probiotics and protein in a ratio that suits your lifestyle.

Aging reduces skin thickness, which inhibits the body’s ability to make vitamin D from sun exposure,” says David Llewellyn, PhD, a senior research fellow in clinical epidemiology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Coupled with reduced dietary intake of vitamin D and the impaired intestinal absorption that also accompanies aging, deficiency is almost inevitable.

Common Signs of Low-Level Vitamin D

Bone and back pain

Weak and painful muscles

Slow wound healing

Frequent infections / respiratory infections

Fatigue and tiredness

Fractures and bone loss

Tooth decay

Hair Loss

Low Mood and depression: Vitamin D deficiency disrupts structural brain connectivity and harms learning and memory by destabilizing perineuronal nets (PNNs) that provide scaffolding for neurons, new research suggests. PNNs are made of proteins and sugar molecules that form a strong, supportive mesh around certain neurons.

Foods High in Vitamin D

Fatty fish:  Mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines and supplement Cod Liver Oil

Egg yolks

Red meat and beef liver

Vitamin D enhanced mushrooms

Fortified soy products, tofu, soy milk and yogurt

Fortified breakfast cereals and juices

Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D

600 International Units (IU) for young adults and 800 (IU) for older adults.  Experts believe that this should be much higher.  Precaution Vitamin D is the most toxic vitamin and taking supplements can result in excessive intake.

Having over twenty years’ experience in my career as a nutritional therapist I recommend a product from “BetterYou” DLUX3000 which is a daily oral spray, easily absorbed in the saliva and safe for anyone with gut health problems. 

Disclaimer:  The above is for information and educational purposes only and does not include any prescriptive advice.  Before starting any new diet please check with your health practitioner / doctor.  Any products recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author Jok Saunders,   Fibromyalgia Health Practitioner and founder of the Fibro Clinic South west   

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