How can vitamin D benefit people with osteoarthritis?

Howard S. Smith
Pain Medicine
Vitamin D, calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin and is necessary for your body to absorb calcium from food or supplements. Along with calcium, vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining bone density. While calcium metabolism in the body is dependent on vitamin D, this vitamin also plays a role in the normal turnover of articular cartilage.

 In a prospective study of 556 participants in the Framingham study, low dietary intake of vitamin D and low serum levels of the vitamin were each associated with increased progression of osteoarthritis of the knee. This study suggests adequate intake of vitamin may slow the progression and possibly help prevent the development of osteoarthritis.

Vitamin D has similar actions to a hormone in the body as it helps activate calcium and phosphorus into the bloodstream. Not only are these two minerals necessary for strong bones, they are also important in keeping muscles and nerves healthy. When the body has an insufficient supply of vitamin D, the blood levels of calcium and phosphorus drop as well.

Where does the body turn to get more of these much-needed minerals? You guessed it--your bones. Loss of calcium and phosphorus is directly related to osteoporosis and a host of other bone-weakening problems. The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) is 400 International Units. If you are over 50, talk with your doctor about the need for vitamin D supplements, as the need for this vitamin increase with age. There is a health risk from taking too much vitamin D, so stay within the recommended limit. The best food sources are halibut-liver oil, herring, cod-liver oil, mackerel, salmon, sardines canned in oil, tuna, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.