Supplements May Serve as Alternate Treatment for Vertigo, Study Suggests

Young shocked female character having stars spinning around h head, vertigo conceptual illustration

Those who have vertigo may now have an easy fix: vitamin D and calcium, taken twice a day, according to a new study published in Neurology.

Specifically, explains a press release, this study looked at 957 people in Korea with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This is the most common type of vertigo, wherein a change in head position gives the person a sudden spinning sensation. Treatment currently includes a doctor performing a series of head movements that shifts particles in the ears that cause the vertigo, but the press release says that the condition tends to recur frequently. Around 86% of people with this vertigo say that it interrupts their daily life.

“Our study suggests that for people with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, taking a supplement of vitamin D and calcium is a simple, low-risk way to prevent vertigo from recurring,” said Ji-Soo Kim, M.D., Ph.D., of Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea. “It is especially effective if you have low vitamin D levels to begin with.”

The 445 people in the intervention group had their vitamin D levels taken at the start of the study. 348 of them had vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter, and were started on 400IU of vitamin D and 500mg of calcium twice daily; those with sufficient levels of vitamin D were not given supplements. The 512 people in the observation group did not have their vitamin D levels monitored, nor did they get supplements.

Those in the intervention group who took the supplements had a 24% lower annual recurrence rate for vertigo episodes after an average of one year than those in the observation group. Participants who were particularly deficient in vitamin D—with levels lower than 10 ng/mL—saw a 45% reduction in annual recurrence rate, compared to a reduction of 14% in the participants with vitamin D levels between 10 to 20 ng/mL. 38% of the people in the intervention group had another episode of vertigo, compared to 47% of those in the observation group.

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“Our results are exciting because so far, going to the doctor to have them perform head movements has been the main way we treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo,” said Dr. Kim. “Our study suggests an inexpensive, low-risk treatment like vitamin D and calcium tablets may be effective at preventing this common, and commonly recurring, disorder.”

The press release notes that a large number of participants did not complete the study; more people in the intervention group dropped out than in the observation group.