Vitamin D status in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a cohort study from the North-West of England

Kate E. Earl, Giorgos K. Sakellariou, Melanie Sinclair, Manuel Fenech, Fiona Croden, Daniel J. Owens, Jonathan Tang, Alastair Miller, Clare Lawton, Louise Dye, Graeme L. Close, William D. Fraser, Anne McArdle, Michael B. J. Beadsworth (Lead Author)

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Objective: Severe vitamin D deficiency is a recognised cause of skeletal muscle fatigue and myopathy. The aim of this study was to examine whether Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is associated with altered circulating vitamin D metabolites.

Design: Cohort study.

Setting: UK university hospital, recruiting from April 2014 to April 2015.
Participants: 92 patients with CFS/ME and 94 age-matched healthy controls.
Main outcome measures: The presence of a significant association between CFS/ME, fatigue and vitamin D measures.

Results: No evidence of a deficiency in serum total 25[OH] vitamin D (25[OH]D2 and 25[OH]D3 metabolites) was evident in individuals with CFS/ME. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis revealed that total 25[OH]D was significantly higher (p = 0.001) in serum of CFS/ME patients compared with healthy controls (60.2 and 47.3nmol/L respectively). Analysis of food/supplement diaries with WinDiets revealed that the higher total 25[OH] vitamin D concentrations observed in the CFS/ME group were associated with increased vitamin D intake through use of supplements compared with the control group. Analysis of Chalder Fatigue Questionnaire data revealed no association between perceived fatigue and vitamin D levels.

Conclusions: Low serum concentrations of total 25 [OH]D do not appear to be a contributing factor to the level of fatigue of CFS/ME.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere015296
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • myalgic encephalomyelitis
  • vitamin D
  • supplements
  • CFS/ME

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