Can Vitamin D benefit people with arthritis?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It can be created by the body when exposed to sunlight but can also be found in food and supplements. Vitamin D may have a role to play in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, research has found a lack of evidence to support vitamin D for preventing or slowing disease progression in knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Vitamin D is often found in fortified foods, where the vitamin has been added. You can also find it in eggs, margarine, fatty fish (such as salmon or rainbow trout), milk (3.5% 2%, 1% and skim) and fortified plant-based beverages (including unsweetened almond or soy milk). For individuals with fibromyalgia who are deficient in vitamin D, taking supplements may help reduce their symptoms. Be aware that Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means it’s stored in your body. Taking a high dose means your body can hold on to the excess, which can lead to calcium buildup that can cause nausea, weakness and kidney problems.
One study found that people with RA have immune cells that are desensitized to the anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D. More research is needed to verify this and determine how this might be prevented. Several studies have shown the association that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in people with RA and is also associated with higher disease activity and worse mental and physical quality of life. People with active RA had lower levels of vitamin D than those with disease in remission. More research is needed to explain the possible influence of vitamin D on RA activity. For OA, further study is required to determine whether Vitamin D might have a therapeutic effect on preventing or slowing disease progression.
Learn more about vitamin D at these links:
This information was reviewed in August 2020 with expert advice from:
Kim Arrey, BSc, RD
President, Kim Arrey Nutrition