Study Finds Vitamin D May Help Prevent Onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis
It’s always promising when a vitamin is confirmed to have a role in preventing or curing a disease. Vitamin C, for example, is well known in its health-promoting role, positively affecting over 30 conditions and dating back as early as the 1700s, with its role in preventing scurvy. (And did you know the essential vitamin has also been linked to a lower breast cancer mortality risk?)
And now, a recent study has shed new light on the role that vitamin D plays in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), both in prevention, and potentially in treating the condition.
Can Vitamin D Intake Help Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis?
An autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack joints in a symmetrical manner, rheumatoid arthritis strikes approximately 1% of Americans, leaving them with joint pain, inflammation, and a compromised quality of life.
The new findings, led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, support that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may help prevent the onset of the disease. But more notably, the study revealed that in patients already afflicted with the disease, inflamed joint cells are much less responsive to any benefits of vitamin D. This suggests that in order for vitamin D to aid patients once afflicted, it may either need to be administered at a much higher level, or, provided along with something that corrects the joint’s insensitivity to the vitamin.
Researchers arrived at these conclusions by collecting both peripheral blood cells and immune cells from inflamed joints within the same patient, then compared how the different cells responded to the active form of vitamin D. The inflamed joint cells were much less sensitive to vitamin D than the other blood cells.
Typical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis includes risky non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease discomfort, as well as Corticosteroids and other medications to try to prevent inflammation, both of which can cause harmful side effects. This research shows promise in using the more easily tolerated vitamin as part of treatment.
For more information on effective natural alternatives for anti-inflammatory drugs, check out our article 10 Best Anti-inflammatory Supplements.
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.