The research, done by Manchester University using data from over 2,300 men, found that those with vitamin D deficiency were more than twice as likely to develop chronic widespread pain compared to those with higher levels.
It also suggested that vitamin D deficiency could result in adverse health and lifestyle factors such as depression, obesity and physical inactivity.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in the UK population, with more than half of all adults expected to have an insufficient level of the vitamin. It can cause weakness as well as musculoskeletal pain. Chronic widespread pain, which affects around one in five people, can be caused by rheumatic and neurological disorders.
Lead researcher Paul McCabe said: “Musculoskeletal pain is a recognised symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency states such as osteomalacia. What is less clear is whether vitamin D deficiency has a role in explaining more common chronic pain symptoms including chronic widespread pain.
“Our research highlights the complex relationship between vitamin D and factors such as obesity and depression in the development of chronic widespread pain. Further research is required to determine whether treatment of vitamin D deficiency may prevent the development of chronic pain.”
President of the British Society for Rheumatology Chris Deighton said: "This study reveals a number of complex inter-related issues which have extremely important implications for our colleagues in public health in keeping the population as free from widespread musculoskeletal pain as possible."