Got Knee Arthritis? Vitamin D Can Slow It Down

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Common wear-and-tear osteoarthritis of the knee causes widespread disability and pain in people over 60. Now, researchers have discovered that a vitamin, one that people are often deficient in, can slow down the progression of knee arthritis. It’s the sunshine vitamin – vitamin D. It is not only important for calcium absorption and bone health, but, as researchers at multiple U.S. medical centers report in the Journal of Nutrition, for joint health as well. Specifically, if you have a deficiency you are likely increasing the rate of arthritic progression in your knees.

“Vitamin D has biological functions on multiple knee joint structures,” the researchers said, “and can play a role in the progression of knee osteoarthritis.”

In their study, the researchers measured the blood levels of vitamin D after 30 and 36 months in 418 patients with arthritis of both knees. Patients with a low level (less than 15 ng/mL) had a two-fold elevated risk of worsening arthritis than those with a greater level.

 My Viewpoint: Vitamin D deficiency is all too common, and a low level causes calcium to be drained from the bones – leading to thin, brittle bones. Luckily you can easily remedy a deficiency in two ways. One, you can get some sunshine and allow your skin to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Two, just take a vitamin D nutritional supplement. Vitamin D is regarded as a promising nutritional factor against osteoarthritis, and there is already some previous evidence suggesting a low level of D may heighten progression of knee arthritis. The new study gives us more proof.

 What This Means to You: Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder. It affects 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women above 60, and also is the most common reason for total knee replacement. It also ranks among the five leading causes of disability among adults. Therefore, if you can take preventive measures to slow down the progression, you will be doing yourself a big favor. Vitamin D is not just a simple vitamin. It also functions as an active steroid hormone that helps keep many vulnerable tissues healthy, including your joints.

 My Recommendation: Get your blood level of vitamin D checked out by your doctor. You want a level above 40 ng/mL. You can reach that goal by spending more time outdoors, particularly from 10 am to 2 pm, and also take a vitamin D supplement. I recommend at least 2,000 IU daily. You’ll be helping your whole body because a deficiency can contribute, among many other things, to cardiovascular problems, reduced resistance against infections, prostate cancer progression, erectile dysfunction, and overactive bladder. So don’t let yourself become deficient!

Reference: Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis

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