As previously discussed, many patients with a whiplash injury also experience some degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can prolong the recovery process. A 2012 study involving patients with severe TBI found the rate of favorable recovery increased 25% in participants who took a vitamin D supplement as part of their treatment plan. Why is that?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble micronutrient that regulates inflammation and skeletal muscle size and function. Due to a systemic inflammatory response (specifically pro-inflammatory cytokines), studies have found that vitamin D levels can drop in the body by as much as 74% within three weeks of a major trauma or following a surgical procedure. This was observed in another study published in 2012 that found 77% of a group of 1,830 trauma patients had deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D, REGARDLESS of age!
Unfortunately, experts estimate that between 30-50% of the United States population is chronically vitamin D deficient. Since vitamin D levels will drop as part of the healing process, you can imagine that people who already have poor vitamin D levels may be in for a longer course of recovery.
Not only that, but because vitamin D plays a role in keeping the musculoskeletal system strong and healthy, people with vitamin D deficiency may be at a greater risk for getting injured in the event of a car accident, collision, or slip and fall. Further, those who do get injured may have a greater risk for sustaining a more severe injury than they may might have had their vitamin D levels been adequate.
Most experts recommend spending time in the sun each day in order for the body to naturally produce vitamin D, but the combination of available sunlight due to latitude or time of year may make this less than practical. Thus, a vitamin D supplement is commonly recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle (minimum 1000 IU/day).
Doctors of Chiropractic commonly provide nutritional counseling which is a large part of the educational/treatment process. Other anti-inflammatory vitamins include magnesium, fish oil, ginger, turmeric, probiotics, and more. An anti-inflammatory diet can be extremely helpful as well!