If you have knee osteoarthritis, a simple but important consideration is, are you getting enough Vitamin D?
Latest research into vitamin D and knee osteoarthritis
A new study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology in May this year found a significant link between osteoarthritis of the knee and serum vitamin D levels. The research comes on the back of a number of epidemiological studies demonstrating a link between low levels of vitamin D and knee pain, as well as higher rates of osteoarthritis and the progression of the disease.
Vitamin D has been in the news a lot in the wake of Covid 19, with the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition conducting a review into the role of the vitamin in helping to combat acute respiratory tract infections. The report did not directly consider any link between vitamin D levels and Covid 19, but it did conduct a comprehensive assessment of the evidence on vitamin D and various musculoskeletal and other health outcomes, including infections. The SACN stopped short of recommending vitamin D to prevent acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in the general population however it reiterated current government advice on vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D, which comes from safe exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet, is believed to be sufficient for most people during the Spring and Summer. However, lower levels of sunlight during the autumn and winter means people are reliant on dietary sources of vitamin D and it can be difficult to get sufficient quantities to meet the 10 µg/day recommendation. For this reason, the government advises everyone to consider taking a daily supplement of 10 µg/day in the autumn and winter.
Ardabil study findings
If you have knee osteoarthritis you have particular reason to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. The study published in May was carried out by researchers at Ardabil City Hospital in Iran. It involved 158 consecutive patients referred to the hospital’s rheumatology clinic. Staging of knee osteoarthritis was done according to Kellgren-Lawrence criteria. Seventy-nine individuals with clinical and radiographic signs of knee osteoarthritis were defined as the case group, and those without clinical and radiographic signs of the disease were defined as a control group. Haematology and biochemical profile including measurement of 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum level was performed in the participants. The average age of patients and controls was 54 and 55 years respectively.
Researchers found a significant association between serum vitamin D and how far advanced the patients’ knee osteoarthritis was. Most of the patients with vitamin D deficiency were found to have worse arthritic stages (Kellgren-LawrenceIII and IV arthritis). The findings of the study suggest that vitamin D deficiency should be considered in patients with osteoarthritis and treated accordingly. (Mediterr J Rheumatol. 2019 Dec; 30(4): 216–219.)
As orthopaedic consultants, we believe there is increasingly compelling evidence as to the link between levels of vitamin D and knee osteoarthritis. We are reminding our patients of the importance of taking a vitamin D supplement during the darker autumn and winter months for their general health and wellbeing – something to consider as the summer closes.
Sources of vitamin D
Good dietary sources of vitamin D include fish, milk, butter, egg yolks and mushrooms. Vitamin D is a steroid and fat soluble substance and sunlight plays a key role in its construction. Many good quality vitamin D supplements are available.
Other lifestyle changes
If you suffer from osteoarthritis there are other lifestyle changes you can make besides taking a vitamin D supplement to support your health and relieve your symptoms. These include regular gentle exercising and stretching of the affected joint, being mindful of your body weight, the use of a cane or stick whilst walking and the cessation of smoking.
Carrothers Orthopaedics Consultations – Cambridge
Carrothers Orthopaedics is currently open and scheduling clinic appointments again, as well as surgery, however the safety of patients and staff remains our number one priority at all times. We are happy to discuss fully the risks and benefits of any proposed orthopaedic surgery, in the context of the ongoing UK Covid-19 pandemic.
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For your convenience, we offer appointments at both Nuffield Hospital Cambridge and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.