Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Arthritis Pain

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Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Arthritis PainScience has just found another reason to keep your vitamin D level up. An interesting piece of health news has identified a potential cause of greater pain for those who live with osteoarthritis. In a study group of African-Americans, it found that those who had lower vitamin D levels had greater pain sensitivity to knee arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint pain, triggers symptoms of painful swelling and stiffness in joints such as the knees, hips, and fingers. Nearly 30 million Americans are believed to suffer from it. A long-term study at the University of North Carolina recently found that lifetime risk of developing knee osteoarthritis is roughly 46%.

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Vitamin D has been a hot commodity in medical circles recently. Low levels of this crucial nutrient have been linked to a wide variety of health issues, including reduced immunity and greater risks for cancer and diabetes. A large number of people in the U.S., and many other countries, have insufficient levels of vitamin D because they do not get enough direct sun exposure on the skin. This problem is particularly common in places with long winters.

Low levels of the vitamin are linked to chronic pain, particularly in African-Americans, so the researcher team investigated if variations in vitamin D levels contribute to racial differences in patients with knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. They recruited 94 people, 45 black and 49 white, who had knee osteoarthritis. The subjects were on average 56 years old. They were given questionnaires, and a test about sensitivity to heat and pain.

The researchers found that the African-Americans had lower levels of vitamin D overall, and the average level was in fact deficient. White adults were not that much better, with an “insufficient” average. African-Americans had more knee osteoarthritis pain, and those with lower vitamin D levels had greater sensitivity to heat and pain.

The study demonstrated that differences in pain sensitivity between the two races are influenced in part by vitamin D levels. The difference between races was less significant than the differences in vitamin D levels. What is clear from this study is that not getting enough vitamin D is linked to worse joint pain, and aggravated knee osteoarthritis.

It is imperative that we all take supplements of vitamin D (in the range of 1,000 international units a day), particularly during the winter months.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Arthritis Pain
Glover, T.L., et al., “Vitamin D, Race, and Experimental Pain Sensitivity in Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis,” Arthritis & Rheumatism, published online November 7, 2012.