Arthritis Awareness Month (Treating Arthritis– Vitamin D Deficiency)
Arthritis is a condition which causes pain and inflammation of body joints. People with arthritis are likely to be deficient in the so-called sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is fat soluble and best known for helping form strong bones and preventing rickets. While it may be true that people with arthritis don’t get as much sun exposure, exposure to the sun helps produce Vitamin D naturally within the body.
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Arthritis Pain and Other Disease
Studies continue to confirm that Vitamin D deficiency does, in fact, play a role in several chronic diseases and symptoms including:
- Chronic pain
- Increased risk for heart disease
- Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Weak bones
- Frequent infections
- Gastrointestinal issues
Low Vitamin D doesn’t just affect the older population. Sedentary lifestyles and poor nutritional diets mean that many of us have a Vitamin D deficiency. In fact, 75% of American teens and adults don’t get enough Vitamin D.
Recent studies from our country’s top athletes, NFL Players, correlated a significant number of muscle injuries in the lower limbs to a decreased level of vitamin D, suggesting that NFL prospects with low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to get serious muscle injuries. Weakened muscles can’t protect your joints from injury. Joint injuries lead to osteoarthritis. Vitamin D may positively affect arthritis pain by affecting the joints directly or by interacting with the immune system.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D got its nickname because sun exposure helps your body naturally produce Vitamin D. It can also be found naturally in foods such as oily fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel) but presents a risk of ingesting large amounts of Mercury. A synthetic form of Vitamin D is often used to fortify processed products such as milk, baby formula, cereal, and juice, but it doesn’t offer as many long-term benefits. Vitamin D can be hard to absorb from your diet alone.
There is no specific diet for arthritis patients, but patients need to take in a lot of foods containing antioxidants such as minerals and vitamins such as E, D, and C. Drinking plenty of fluids help reduce inflammation and friction between joints. Eating a proper diet with enough Calcium and Vitamin D, low salt, sugar, and fat combined with proper and regular exercise can help to maintain healthy muscles, keep joints strong and prevent arthritis.
In addition to helping prevent arthritis and improve your symptoms, it is important that you consider taking the following steps to ensure you are adjusting your lifestyle and overall health in order to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D by
1) Spending time in the sunshine. While wearing sun protection is imperative, it only takes a couple minutes of sun exposure for your body to use the sun’s rays to make the Vitamin D it needs each day.
2) Consider a daily supplement. Taking weather and sunshine out of the equation, it is a good rule of thumb to consider a multi-vitamin or supplemental daily vitamin that includes Vitamin D3 to help with arthritis symptoms.