Previously, we’ve discussed the neurological mechanisms associated with dizziness, specifically vertigo (spinning sensation). Today we will look at the link between vertigo and vitamin D.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) has been linked with low vitamin D levels for many years. While BPPV typically occurs without a known cause, decreased levels of vitamin D in the blood has been associated with increased recurrence of BPPV (1).
The research is clear: low vitamin D does not cause BPPV, low levels of vitamin D is correlated with recurring episodes or chronic BPPV.
The reasoning behind this connection is not fully known, but there is understanding that vitamin D helps with the metabolism of calcium carbonate crystals, known as “otoconia” (2). These crystals are located on top of hair cells in the canals of the inner ear and are deflected side to side when the fluid in the canal moves. This deflection gives us the perception of movement and if the crystals become detached from the hair cells, they can give an aberrant perception of movement, or vertigo.
If the body is able to metabolize and clear these crystals, no vertigo will continue to occur. If the body is unable to metabolize calcium crystals at the rate that they fall off of hair cells, they can accumulate and tumble through the canals, creating the recipe for recurrent BPPV episodes. Interestingly, low vitamin D levels & increased BPPV incidence (3) have both been linked with osteoporosis (low bone density).
One theory attempting to explain the link between vertigo and vitamin D is that when serum levels of vitamin D affect bone density, it may lead to a more rapid degradation of the semicircular canals, which are engraved in bone.
Therapeutically, keeping adequate vitamin D levels through means of sunlight exposure, fat rich proteins such as fish & supplementation are good ways to reduce risk for BPPV (4).
If you or someone you know suffers from vertigo or nutritional deficiencies, contact us today!
- GI; R. Serum Vitamin D and Long-term Outcomes of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Clinical and experimental otorhinolaryngology. 2019 Aug;12(3):273-278
- AlGarni MA;Mirza AA;Althobaiti AA;Al-Nemari HH;Bakhsh LS; Association of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo with vitamin D deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. 2018, Oct.
- Büki B, Ecker M, Jünger H, Lundberg YW. Vitamin D deficiency and benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo. Medical hypotheses. February 2013.
- Sheikhzadeh M, Lotfi Y, Mousavi A, Heidari B, Monadi M, Bakhshi E. Influence of supplemental vitamin D on intensity of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: A longitudinal clinical study. Caspian journal of internal medicine. 2016 Spring; 7(2): 93–98.