Question: What does Venus Williams and Sjogren's have to do with Vitamin D?

Answer: Everything

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune illness involving dry mouth, dry eyes, joint pain and inflammation, and fatigue. It is considered incurable. It is in the class of rheumatological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus. It is a rare disease.

A study was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases in which vitamin D levels were measured in 35 patients with Sjogren’s syndrome and normal controls. This study was done because of other previous studies that suggested that Vitamin D may have a regulatory role in the immune system.

The results were clear cut. Severely diminished blood concentrations of vitamin D was found in patients with Sjogren’s syndrome compared to those without Sjogren’s.

In some cases of Sjogren’s, a harmful antibody called IgM rheumatoid factor is found. In this study,patients who did have an elevated level of IgM rheumatoid factor, there was a significant correlation with vitamin D – the higher the harmful levels of IgM rheumatoid factor, the lower the vitamin D level.

Venus Williams has been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. It forced her to withdraw from the U.S. tennis open. The media is reporting that she had symptoms for over a year.

The initial studies on vitamin D were the first and second steps. The next step is taking a number of patients with Sjogren’s syndrome, treating half of the subjects with major doses of vitamin D, and half with placebo. When is this study going to be done, now that the preliminary studies have been done.

There are problems. The initial study mentioned above on vitamin D was published in 1983; the one published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases was published in 1990. I have reviewed MEDLINE and have found NO studies treating Sjogren’s with vitamin D; not even a case report.

It looks like there is never going to be a proper study to evaluate vitamin D in Sjogren’s. Every person with Sjogren’s should obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and treat with vitamin D supplements to an ideal level. We know that the vitamin D will have a positive effect on bone density, along with many other beneficial effects. It hasn’t been studied in people with Sjogren’s sufferers. Because it’s over the counter, what’s stopping anyone with Sjogren’s from taking it to evaluate the effect on their Sjogren’s. Vitamin D has been shown to lead to improvements in other autoimmune diseases - rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis. What would happen if it ended up being a very effective inexpensive treatment for Sjogren's?

Do you hear me, Venus?