8 Facts About Vitamin D and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lene Andersen Aug 15, 2013 (updated Oct 16, 2013)
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Vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune disorders
A study has linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk for cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis MS, and lupus. Researchers found, through mapping vitamin D receptors binding throughout the human genome, that vitamin D deficiency is a major environmental factor in increasing the risk of developing these disorders.
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1 billion people don't get enough vitamin D
It's been estimated that 70 percent of children and adults in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient. The cause of deficiency is a combination of not getting enough exposure to the sun and not having enough vitamin D in their diets.
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Medications can affect vitamin D absorption
Hydroxychloroquine, or Plaquenil, and corticosteroids, which both can be prescribed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, are among these. Even if you are taking one of these drugs, your doctor can adjust your vitamin D dose to correct the malabsorption.
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A blood test can determine your vitamin D level
You can ask your doctor to give you a simple blood test called, 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. It can tell you how deficient you might be in vitamin D.
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You can add vitamin D by changing your diet
To increase your level of vitamin D through food, you should include more oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Egg yolks and mushrooms also provide vitamin D, You could also choose a cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D.
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15 minutes of sun exposure can make a difference
Just 15 minutes of exposure to the sun gives you 20,000 IUs of vitamin D. However, this is without sunblock in the summer, and be aware that you need to be careful not to expose your skin to the sun without sunblock for long stretches of time. This can cause skin damage and increase your risk of skin cancer.
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Vitamin D can lift moods and strengthen bones
Not only does vitamin D play a crucial role in the absorption of calcium, but it can stave off osteoporosis, which can be a risk for people with RA. It also protects those susceptible to seasonal affective disorder from becoming depressed.
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Vitamin D can help you manage chronic pain
Vitamin D plays a role in managing musculoskeletal pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. It's common for people who live with chronic pain to have a vitamin D deficiency, so doctors routinely check their patients for their levels of vitamin D and often recommend vitamin D supplements as part of a treatment plan.