A new study by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in USA, has revealed a possible effect of the lack of vitamin D in the body. Specifically, they determine that this phenomenon could trigger an increased risk of addiction to drugs. opioids.
Thus, the conclusions of the study suggest that addressing the problem of vitamin D deficiency in society with inexpensive supplements could help to address the current existing addiction to opioids, especially in the United States.
This study is based on previous research conducted in 2007, which led to the hypothesis that human search for the sun is related to vitamin D deficiency.
It would be as a way to increase the synthesis of the hormone in search of survival from ancient times. In addition, this same hypothesis suggested that the lack of this micronutrient could cause the body to be more sensitive to the effects of opioids, contributing to their addiction.
Behavior of vitamin D
Dr. Laios V. Kemény, researcher in Dermatology of the MGH, explains that “our objective in this study was to understand the relationship between vitamin D signaling in the body and UV and opioid-seeking behaviors.”
To carry out this study, they used several perspectives in which they compared normal laboratory mice with other mice that were deficient in vitamin D.
Kemény notes that “we discovered that modulation of vitamin D levels modifies multiple addictive behaviors to both UV rays and opioids.”
Most telling is that at one point the researchers conditioned the mice with modest doses of morphine. When morphine was withdrawn, vitamin D-deficient mice were more likely to develop withdrawal symptoms.
Therefore, the findings of this research work suggest that a lack of vitamin D increases addictive behavior, which was supported by several accompanying analyzes of human health records.
Specifically, these complementary analyzes showed that people with low levels of vitamin D were 50% more likely to consume opioids compared to other people with normal values of this micronutrient. For those with severe deficits, it increased the risk up to 90%.
One of the main authors highlights that “our results suggest that we may have a public health opportunity to influence the opioid epidemic.”
In this sense, they suggest that a treatment for vitamin D deficiency could offer a new way to reduce the risk of OUD and increase existing treatments against this type of disorders.