Can You Beat Arthritis By Taking Vitamin D?

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Can You Beat Arthritis By Taking Vitamin D
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The global burden of arthritis was published previously in 2015 in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders Journal. The study called the Global Burden of Disease Study involved 187 countries and 21 regions all around the world and the prevalence of all musculoskeletal disorders: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, low back pain, and neck pain, among others. The burden was quite high, according to the data gathered; all musculoskeletal disorders combined affected 21 percent of a person’s lifespan called “years lived with disability”. The numbers are quite similar in the United States, with an estimated 54.4 million adults in the US living with some form of arthritis; that’s roughly 22 percent of the total population. [1][2]

With such a prevalent condition affecting the older generation, what exactly do we know about Arthritis?

Not much, I’m afraid. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there over 100 types of joint diseases that affect both children and adults in the United States. The statistics for children are much lower, with an estimated 300,000 children in the US living with arthritis. The symptoms are general and quite vague, but arthritis is basically the inflammation of the joint, which causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced motion. People with inflamed joints, especially in the hands and legs have trouble going about their activities of daily living, having a big impact in their day-to-day productivity, which leads to a drastic reduction in their quality of life. Because the symptoms can range from mild to severe and often come and go, getting diagnosed with arthritis often happens late in life or worse, not at all. [3]

Here are few common types of arthritis: [3]

1. Degenerative arthritis. This is by far the most common type. It comes with age, as the bones and joints in our body experience wear and tear from daily use. The delicate tissue that surrounds our joints (called the cartilage) becomes thinner and thinner, causing the bones to rub or bump against each other during movement. This causes swelling and pain.

2. Inflammatory arthritis is an immune system problem. While all forms of arthritis manifest with inflammation, inflammatory arthritis is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the joints, causing the inflammation directly. Autoimmunity still needs to be further researched in order to find out why it happens, but researchers think it may be due to two factors: genes and the environment.

Unlike degenerative arthritis whose diagnoses comes at a later age, inflammatory arthritis can happen at any age and early diagnosis is a must in order to prevent permanent damage to the joints.

3. Infectious arthritis is pretty self-explanatory. When an infection from bacteria, viruses, or fungi hits the joints, they can cause severe inflammation. Salmonella, shigella, gonorrhea, and even hepatitis C can cause infectious arthritis.

4. Metabolic arthritis is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. When you have too much purine in your diet, this gets broken down into uric acid in the body and gets deposited in the joints, thereby causing joint inflammation. People affected by this kind of arthritis typically feel the symptoms as an “attack”, triggered by eating certain food.

Vitamin D And Arthritis

The most obvious methods are an adjustment to your physical activities and a controlled diet. These two things can help reduce the symptoms and improve your quality of life. However, researchers from the University of Birmingham and University College London found that vitamin D supplementation can be an innovative way to manage arthritis. [4]

The researchers focused on the results of previous studies on vitamin D, citing its potent anti-inflammatory capabilities on top of its ability to mediate the immune system response active in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. They focused specifically on the effects of vitamin D on inflamed joints and found positive results.

By isolating immune cell types from inflamed joints or active sites of arthritis, the researchers were able to see that they were sensitive to vitamin D and its anti-inflammatory effects. They took synovial fluid from 15 people aged 40 to 85 affected with rheumatoid arthritis and tested the vitamin D against their samples. While the sensitivity of the cells in the synovial fluid was less responsive than cells taken from circulating blood, the results suggest that vitamin D in the right dosage and the right route (not just oral supplementation) could indeed provide positive outcomes in the management of arthritis, especially if the vitamin D is administered directly to the affected area.

In a world where there are so many bad side effects associated with pain medication for inflamed joints, supplementing with vitamin D may be a better, healthier alternative to regular treatments.

References:

[1] Woolf, A. (2015). Global burden of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4674868/

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis-Related Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

[3] Arthritis Foundation. What is Arthritis? https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php

[4] Jeffery, L., et. al. (2018). Decreased sensitivity to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in T cells from the rheumatoid joint. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896841117304201?via%3Dihub

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