Vitamin D Prevents Rheumatoid Arthritis

Vitamin D Prevents Rheumatoid Arthritis
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Vitamin D or sunshine vitamin improves* absorption of calcium and phosphorus and it facilitates normal immune system function. Obtaining sufficient amount of this micronutrient is vital for healthy bones and joints and it can also minimize the risk of other diseases and conditions.

Many studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation helps prevent or manage certain joint-related conditions, but can it keep rheumatoid arthritis at bay? The latest study has all the answers.

Vitamin D and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Vitamin D exhibits potent anti-inflammatory effects including suppression of inflammatory cytokines involved in rheumatoid arthritis. That being said, the efficacy of the sunshine vitamin at the site of active disease remained unclear. In order to get a more detailed insight into this topic, Karim Raza and a team of scientists at the University of Birmingham carried out an important study.

Researchers used paired peripheral blood and synovial fluid from the inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Then, they analyzed the responses to the active form of vitamin D in immune cells of the participants. Results showed that compared to blood from the same patients, the inflamed joints i.e. those affected with rheumatoid arthritis were less sensitive to vitamin D.

Findings, published in the Journal of Autoimmunity[1], explain that immune cells from the RA-affected joints are strongly affected by inflammation and they are less likely to change. That being said, consumption of daily recommended values of vitamin D helps prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and many others affecting millions of people worldwide.

Will Vitamin D Work For Patients Who Already Have RA?

Bearing in mind the study showed that sufficient intake of the sunshine vitamin helps keep inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis at bay, one has to wonder if the same effect applies to patients who already have this disease.

Does vitamin D help in any way? Well, this is where things get more complicated. If you already have RA, then obtaining recommended daily amount of this micronutrient is not enough. In this case, much larger doses are necessary.

Scientists explain that another solution would be to find a way to treat* RA patients and develop a method that will correct or bypass the insensitivity to vitamin D in immune cells within inflamed joint.

Professor Raza explained[2] these results surprised the entire team. Prior to the onset of the research, the team of scientists suspected that cells from the rheumatoid joint would respond to vitamin D with equal efficacy as cells from the flood.

Since that didn’t happen, the study yielded an important discovery as it changes the way we think about the anti-inflammatory potential of vitamin D and its use for this purpose. This discovery also paves the way for further research that will find a way to improve* treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases with greater success. We can witness the birth of new ways to use the anti-inflammatory potential of vitamin D in the near future.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts

Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts
  • RA is an autoimmune disease meaning the immune system attacks tissues near joints[3]
  • Although it affects joints primarily, RA can spread to other organs too including lungs, heart, skin
  • 60% of rheumatoid arthritis patients are unable to work ten years after the onset of this condition
  • 1.3 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Women are twice as likely as man to develop this common type of arthritis
  • Out of every 100,000 people, 41 are diagnosed with RA
  • Hormones in both genders play a role in triggering and preventing RA

Conclusion

Scientists at the University of Birmingham discovered that obtaining sufficient levels of vitamin D prevents rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Patients who already have these diseases need much larger doses.

Before you start increasing* intake of vitamin D supplement, consult your doctor. These findings open the door to new treatment methods that would focus on anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D.

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.