Vitamin D and Knee Arthritis
Drink your milk! That statement has been uttered by every parent since ancient times and may now be prophetic for patients with knee arthritis. A new study shows that patients with low vitamin D levels have more knee osteoarthritis. Of note, the association was stronger in patients under 60 years old. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that helps control the amount of bone building blocks in the bloodstream. Patients with a low vitamin D level therefore would be expected to have less bone building blocks and likely have less ability to make strong bones. Major sources of Vitamin D include milk, cheese, and sunshine as well as many green leafy vegetables. Do other studies agree with this latest work on low vitamin D levels and knee arthritis? Mostly yes. Other studies have associated things like smoking, vitamin D deficiency, and chronic inflammation with early onset of knee arthritis. One study also was able to demonstrate that a low vitamin D level was associated with more rapid progression of knee arthritis (worsening of the condition), especially in patients with osteoporosis (low bone density). However, an earlier study (not focused on patients with osteoporosis) didn’t see that same association between low Vitamin D levels and the more rapid onset of knee arthritis. A low vitamin D level is also associated with hip arthritis in the elderly, with a vitamin D deficiency twice as likely in older patients with hip arthritis. The upshot? Low vitamin D levels likely have something to do with knee arthritis, but this may impact patients under 60 more or be a bigger deal in those patients with low bone densities (osteoporosis).
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