Friday, December 7, 2012

Sjogren’s, Vitamin-D, Neuropathy, and Lymphoma

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Those of you who follow me on twitter (@autoimmunegal) know that I am always tweeting health and medical research studies on autoimmune diseases. Yes, that may make me a little bit of a nerd, but that is OK with me. Along those lines, I recently came across an interesting study (thanks to a tweet from the Sjogren’s Society of Canada) that I thought was very important to share.  This study from the Journal of Autoimmunity found a link between primary Sjogren’s Syndrome (pSS) patients with low vitamin-D levels having peripheral neuropathy and having lymphoma. 

It is important to mention that this research is the first to find a relationship between low vitamin-D and the risk of lymphoma for those with Sjogren's.  There have also been very few studies to date examining vitamin-D levels and their impact on Sjogren's patients.  The authors write with regard to neuropathy that “vitamin-D deficiency may be a component in the pathogenesis of neuropathy in pSS.”  They then conclude that  their research “may warrant the need for a tighter monitoring of vitamin-D among patients with pSS."  You can see the article's abstract by clicking here.

Low vitamin-D levels have been correlated with autoimmunity in some studies.  In addition, vitamin-D has been found to have a protective effect in preventing the development of AI diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroiditis, and Type 1 diabetes.  Some studies have even shown that higher levels of vitamin-D are associated with decreased cancer risk including for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but as is often the case with scientific research there have been conflicting studies and controversy in this area.  Basically vitamin-D seems to be powerful stuff. 

When I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s almost two years ago, I was found to have both low vitamin-D levels and severe neuropathy.  This study might shed some light on patients like me and serves as big reminder that I best keep taking my vitamin-D supplement.  I take a daily over the counter supplement and I do try to have foods high in vitamin-D a few times a week, but that doesn't always raise my vitamin-D level high enough.  When my levels are low, my doctor usually prescribes a 12 week course of 50,000 IU of D3 once a week.  That usually does the trick to get my vitamin-D in normal range.  

The results of this study certainly gives me and others with Sjogren’s MAJOR reasons (lymphoma and neuropathy) to talk to our doctors about vitamin-D and take our supplements if they recommend it.  I actually haven’t had my vitamin-D levels (a simple blood test) checked in some time so that will be added to the list to discuss for my next rheumatology appointment in a couple months.  If you want to read more about vitamin-D and autoimmune diseases, check out some of the links I listed below (please feel free to add your own as this list is far from comprehensive). To learn more about lymphoma and Sjogren’s, click on this link to a recent post from Julia’s blog Reasonably Well on the topic.

Were your levels of vitamin-D low when you were diagnosed with autoimmune disease?  By the way, make sure to talk your doctor before making any changes to your vitamin supplements.


  1. My Vitamin D level was around 11 the year I was diagnosed but nobody ever told me about the connection. I learned about it on my own via the internet. I happened to be seeing a very good endo. for my thyroid who discovered the low Vit D and she has me on 5000 units/day which keeps me in the 30's-40's.

    1. Hi, my vitamin D levels were low even before I was officially diagnosed, as well as my B-12 levels...I do shots of B-12 ever other week & take Vitamin D3 (2,000 iu) in either a spray, liquid or chewable form since I don't seem to absorb things through my stomach...I also take fish oil & CoQ10 this way. I'm pretty sure I've had vitamin deficiencies my whole life, & definitely feel like there's a connection between the deficiencies & auto-immune disorders. So if your Vitamin D is still on the low side even though you're taking supplements, you might want to try a liquid version.

  2. That's a good round-up of links that you provided.

    I recently upped my D and have been taking B12 for a few years. I found out 2 things recently by trial and error. One is that using a gel at night that has a preservative made my eyes much worse in the morning. The other is that the warm compresses on my eyes are something I really miss if I skip them. Sorry to go off topic.

  3. I used to take B12, but need to do some research to find a new brand that works with my allergies. Do you find it helps some of your autoimmune symptoms?

    Great point on the eyes. The preservative free gel and warm compresses help me too and the trick is that I don't fall asleep before doing both of them:). I have had burning and irritation with the preservative eye drops so I have been trying to stick to the preservative free these days.

  4. I have had low D since before my SjS diagnosis, and am still battling it a year later, although there has been slight improvement. Neither my GP or Neurologist have mentioned it in connection with my SjS or TN. I wonder if they even know there is one.

  5. I was taking B12 and finally had my levels checked and they're too high. Interestingly, I'm taking a full dropperful of D and it's continuing to drop too low. I would suggest those of you taking b12 to have your levels checked first. An elevated level is associated with Cancer, just like a low D is.

  6. I was not tested for vitamin D until three years into my Sjogren's diagnosis. It is interesting to see the correlation between neuropathies and vitamin D.

  7. I'm reading on other sites that D3 and D2 are different and both need testing?