Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin D plays a role in insulin production and immune function. Although the amount of vitamin D adults get from their diets is often less than what’s recommended, exposure to sunlight can make up the difference.
Research has found that vitamin D may play a significant role in joint health, and that low levels may increase one’s risk of rheumatological conditions such as arthritis.
Several studies have found low blood levels of vitamin D in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.
In another study of more than 2,000 people, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was strongly associated with a disabling symptoms among those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Why does a lack of vitamin D affect bones?
Vitamin D helps the bones absorb calcium, which is vital to bone health.
The vitamin is also crucial for muscle movement, communication between nerves, and fighting inflammation.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people who take oral steroids have a vitamin D deficiency twice as often as people who don’t take them.
Oral steroids are a common treatment for people with arthritis.
What studies have said
In a study with Endocrinology and Metabolism, the link between vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis was investigated.
The study concluded that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis.
As vitamin D deficiency has been linked to diffuse musculoskeletal pain, these results have therapeutic implications vitamin D supplementation may be needed both for the prevention of osteoporosis as well as for pain relief in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to helping prevent arthritis, getting enough vitamin D may also lower the risk for other autoimmune diseases like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone fractures, depression and the flu.
During winter it’s highly recommended to take vitamin D supplements.
Doctors recommend taking 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day. Other symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include pain, infections, gastrointestinal problems, depression and weak bones.