Some people have postulated that sleep apnea is linked to a vitamin D deficiency. This explanation has many positive aspects, especially because it gives an easy, convenient alternative to CPAP. All you have to do is take a vitamin supplement to reduce your sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, new research shows that there is likely no link between vitamin D and sleep apnea.
Why a Link Seemed Likely
There are many reasons why people thought that a vitamin D deficiency might be linked to sleep apnea. First, obese people are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, and since they’re also more likely to have sleep apnea, there’s a possible connection there.
Vitamin D levels also drop in winter. Since sleep apnea tends to be worse in winter, there’s another possible connection.
Because vitamin D helps with muscle tone, it was also hypothesized that drops in vitamin D might lead to more lax muscles in the airway, causing obstruction.
New Study Shows no Link
But now a new study has looked at the potential link between vitamin D levels and sleep apnea and has found no evidence to support it. The study looked at vitamin D levels in older men to determine whether lower vitamin D levels were at all linked to the prevalence or severity of sleep apnea.
The study looked at about 2800 elderly men (average age 76 years), measured their vitamin D levels and compared these levels to their incidence of sleep apnea. They did initially find that men with the lowest vitamin D levels had an increased risk of sleep apnea. However, when they adjusted for other sleep apnea risk factors, they found that vitamin D didn’t account for risk levels. Instead, obesity and neck circumference were likely the biggest contributors to sleep apnea risk.
They noted that lower activity levels among obese older adults could account for both lower vitamin D levels (less time spent outside) and reduced muscle tone.
Convenient Alternatives Do Exist
Although it’s not as easy as just taking vitamins, oral appliance therapy represents a proven, effective, and comfortable alternative to CPAP treatment for sleep apnea. If you are tired of your CPAP machine and want to learn whether you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center today.