Vitamin D refers to a nutrient that is significant for bone health. Different studies have shown that having low levels of this vitamin in the body can lead to pain in muscle and joint. However, the research has not been able to reach a conclusion.
A deficiency of vitamin D can affect both mental and physical health but in some cases, it does not even produce symptoms. You may be having this deficiency for a long time and not even realize it.
The physical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include pain in muscles and joint and a condition known as rheumatoid arthritis which often manifests in the joints of legs, hips, and knees.
This article tends to explore the link between vitamin D and the consequent joint pain. It will further discuss different ways to increase vitamin D intake in the diet and explain the daily intake of this vitamin in order to prevent a deficiency.
Why do you Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient required for calcium regulation in the body. Because it determines and controls the rate of resorption and absorption of calcium, vitamin D is crucial for maintenance of bone health.
A deficiency of this vitamin causes the bones to become weak and soft. This condition is referred to as osteomalacia in adults whereas, in children, it is known as rickets. Vitamin D also helps in prevention of osteoporosis, another condition that causes weakening of bones.
Additionally, vitamin D can affect the immune system and handle different autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and even type 1 diabetes.
The deficiency of vitamin D may be asymptomatic or produce an array of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Excessive fatigue
- Pain in bones
- Weakening of muscles
- Respiratory problems
- Several neurological manifestations such as numbness
- Seasonal affective disorder and other related problems
The Relationship between Vitamin D and Joint Pain
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and required for proper functioning of muscles. Additionally, this vitamin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, a lot of people tend to believe that vitamin D may have an important role in alleviating joint pain, particularly in cases where the origin of pain is inflammation.
Some research works have even linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis; a condition that particularly harms the joints.
A review of a study performed in 2016 has mentioned that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis tend to have a lesser amount of vitamin D in their blood as compared to the people without this disease. Moreover, it was also discovered that the people suffering from this joint disease tend to have a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency.
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Another research article from 2012 has indicated that the deficiency of vitamin D might be a risk factor for several inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. It may also increase the severity of this disease.
Supplementation of vitamin D has also been found to prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis. The patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of getting osteoporotic fractures. They also tend to experience a higher level of joint pain so, supplementation is a good choice for management.
Vitamin D has also been found to improve the mood of the patients and relieve the signs of depression. However, a Cochrane study performed in 2015 concluded that the current scientific evidence is not strong enough to connect the deficiency of vitamin D with the diseases in which chronic pain is experienced such as rheumatoid arthritis.
This means that the connection of vitamin D with joint pain needs further clarification as no definite relationship has been established so far.
How to Acquire Vitamin D?
There are two ways by which the body acquires vitamin D. It makes vitamin D internally as it gets exposed to light. Vitamin D can also be obtained externally via diet and supplementation.
Vitamin D and Sunshine
As you expose bare skin to the sun, the body starts making vitamin D with the help of ultraviolet B light.
This means that sunlight is an exceptional source of getting vitamin D. However, this does not mean that you should go expose yourself to the scorching sunlight in the middle of a hot day as this can lead to skin burning.
You need to be extremely careful while getting sun exposure as excessive exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer by several folds.
In winters, you may not be able to get as much exposure to sunlight which can make it harder for your body to produce the required amount of vitamin D. In such conditions, it is necessary that you supplement your body with vitamin D via external sources.
As per the National Institute of Health, an adult person must take 15 micrograms of vitamin D every day to avoid deficiency.
The best way to ensure that you are gaining enough vitamin D is by ensuring that you consume a nutritious diet. A diet that is rich in vitamin D must include the following items:
- Beef liver
- Milk and yogurt fortified with vitamin D
- Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna
- Egg yolks
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin D supplements
Some people, for example, vegetarian or older individuals, may need to struggle to get sufficient amount of vitamin D. This is particularly true in winters when their exposure to sunlight is drastically reduced.
For such people, it is better to go for vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D supplementation may be particularly beneficial for:
- Older people, as the body, loses its ability to produce vitamin as a person ages
- People with darker skin tone as it becomes much more difficult for the skin to produce vitamin D using sunlight
- Infants who have been breastfed since they are completely dependent on another person’s body and diet
Vitamin D supplements can be easily obtained from a drug store. They are also available online.
Consuming too much vitamin D can lead to toxicity as well. So, it is better to talk with a doctor or any other healthcare professional regarding how much supplementation would your body require.
What are other Vitamins to Relieve Joint Pain?
Joint pain typically indicates that body is suffering from inflammation. While science still has not been able to link the role of food in the stimulation of joint pain, you must not overlook the effect of diet on health.
In addition to vitamin D, other nutrients that can relieve joint pain include:
- Probiotics, especially when the pain is caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder.
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Vitamin K
Researchers have also indicated that a Mediterranean diet can help relieve pain and inflammation in the body, consequently improving the overall health.
In addition to this, a diet rich in brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts, and seeds, containing a lot of antioxidants can help in regulation and maintenance of health
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common but sufficient exposure to natural sunlight and consuming food rich in vitamin D can help in managing this condition.
Vitamin D deficiency is found to be more prevalent in the patients with rheumatoid arthritis and the low levels of this nutrient are also said to aggravate joint pain. However, more research is warranted to establish a proper link.