Although vitamin D is frequently linked to strong bones, what relationship does it have with joint pain?
A lack of vitamin D will have a detrimental effect on bones since it is necessary for bone growth and development. On the other hand, too much vitamin D can cause joint pain. Therefore, it's essential to maintain ideal levels for total joint health.
In this blog post, we'll explore the connection between vitamin D and our joints, along with tips for ensuring you're getting the recommended amount!
This exploration is designed for everyone, regardless of whether they are experiencing joint discomfort or are simply inquiring about their body's nutritional requirements.
Can too much vitamin D cause joint pain?
Overconsumption of vitamin D can have detrimental effects on our health and cause joint pain because our bodies are unable to handle the excess. The body's ability to absorb calcium may be hampered if hazardous levels of vitamin D accumulate.
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, your body can only absorb a certain amount of it at once. Your body won't be able to handle too much vitamin D, which will result in a number of regrettable side effects.
Sunlight, food, and supplement-derived vitamin D are physiologically inert and need to go through two hydroxylation processes in the body to become active.
Calcidiol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], is the result of the first hydroxylation of vitamin D, which takes place in the liver.
A physiologically active form of vitamin D called 1,25(OH)2D, or calcitriol, is formed by the second hydroxylation, which mostly takes place in the kidney.
In response to dangerous vitamin D accumulation, your body may increase the amount of a molecule secreted by your liver called 25(OH)D.
This substance can increase the amount of calcium released into your bloodstream and is implicated in calcium absorption.
This leads to Hypercalcaemia, a potentially dangerous illness marked by elevated calcium levels, which is frequently encountered by cancer patients and people with hyperparathyroidism. Even mild hypercalcemia can have an impact on your body and cause bone pain.
Can vitamin D help with joint pain?
There's a reason vitamin D is referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Not only does sun exposure cause your skin to produce vitamin D but vitamin D has been shown to protect against various health issues.
The naturally occurring vitamin D controls how much calcium and phosphorus the body uses. It is essential for the development of teeth and bones.
Given how crucial vitamin D is for the development of bones, several experts have inquired as to whether it can relieve joint pain. According to one study, people who had low levels of vitamin D and experienced chronic discomfort were most likely to benefit from taking vitamin D supplements.
An increased risk of knee and hip pain was seen in another study involving people over 50 with a vitamin D deficit. Furthermore, the study discovered that the chance of the pain getting worse increases if the insufficiency is not treated.
An inflammatory disorder called rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes the body to attack its own joints, was the subject of a study that examined vitamin D levels in patients. The majority of participants in the study had low levels of vitamin D.
The researchers came to the conclusion that a side effect of RA was low vitamin D levels.
According to the results of another study, vitamin D deficiency is a side effect of corticosteroid therapy for RA patients.
What is the best form of vitamin D for joint pain?
Vitamins D2 and D3 appear to be equally effective in curing rickets because they both increase serum 25(OH)D levels. Furthermore, the majority of the metabolic processes and activities of vitamins D2 and D3 are the same.
Although both forms of vitamin D are efficiently absorbed in the stomach, the majority of evidence suggests that vitamin D3 raises serum 25(OH)D levels more than vitamin D2 and keeps them there longer.
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What is the recommended daily dosage of vitamin D to relieve joint pain?
The daily allowance of vitamin D provided by the Recommended Dietary Allowance is sufficient for maintaining adequate calcium metabolism and strong bones in healthy individuals. It presumes little to no sun exposure.
- RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 IU (15 mcg) daily for men and women over the age of 19 and 800 IU (20 mcg) per day for people over the age of 70.
- UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level, or UL, is the largest daily intake that is not expected to have a detrimental effect on health. Adults and kids over the age of nine should take 4,000 IU (100 mcg) of vitamin D daily.
According to a study, 25 percent of Americans had blood vitamin D concentrations of less than 50 nmol, or 20 ng/mL, and 5.9% of Americans were thought to be vitamin D deficient (serum vitamin D concentrations of less than 30 nmol, or 12 ng/mL).
The most vulnerable groups to vitamin D insufficiency or inadequacy are older people, people living in remote areas, people of color, sunscreen users, and people who spend a lot of time indoors.
Additionally, cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that moderate vitamin D deficiency is more common in those with certain chronic illnesses, such as obesity and kidney disease.
Heart disease, diabetes, and renal disease are the three most common chronic diseases among the 51.8% of adults in the US with a diagnosis.
Chronic diseases are caused by a variety of factors, including age, sex, lifestyle choices like poor physical activity (less than 150 minutes per week), and food habits such as eating a lot of sodium and total fats but not enough fruits, vegetables, or fiber.
A diet low in fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense meals and drinks can lead to a deficiency in vitamin D intake.
Depending on the chronic condition or sickness, strategies to enhance vitamin D status have included prescribing supplements in different forms (e.g., vitamin D2 or D3), quantities (e.g., 200–540,000 IU), and frequencies (e.g., once to monthly).
To get a suitable blood 25(OH)D level of >20 ng/mL, vitamin D supplements with 800 IUs per day are advised for healthy people who are low in vitamin D.
Regardless of whether they were vitamin D deficient, 49% of men and 59% of women 60 years of age and older took a vitamin D supplement, according to study results from 2015.
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What is the importance of vitamin D in our body?
There are numerous benefits that vitamin D provides for mental and physical well-being. Here are eight advantages of vitamin D that you should be aware of:
Vitamin D is well known for its ability to strengthen and develop bones. Your bones can naturally mineralize because vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium in the gastrointestinal tract.
In essence, without vitamin D, the calcium that strengthens your bones couldn't function as it should.
In addition to aiding in bone formation, vitamin D keeps bones from being fragile.
According to the Journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, vitamin D has a significant impact on muscle strength in addition to its ability to form bone.
A deficiency of vitamin D in the body might increase the likelihood of weakening muscles, which raises the possibility of falling.
This is very important for senior citizens in particular. Vitamin D has the ability to increase muscle strength and lower the chance of falls in the elderly, which can result in serious injury or even death.
Boosts immune system and combats inflammation
Vitamin D can support the development of immunity. It can help strengthen the immune system by warding off dangerous viruses and germs.
Its function in viral illnesses like coronavirus and influenza is of special relevance.
Daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation lowered the incidence of acute respiratory infection, especially in those who were deficient in it, according to a 2017 BMJ study of 25 randomized control studies comparing vitamin D supplements versus placebos.
Boosts dental health
Although there isn't much evidence of vitamin D's effects on oral health, a review published in Nutrients in 2020 suggested that because it aids in calcium absorption, vitamin D may reduce the incidence of gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay.
Prevents diabetes types 1 and 2
You can avoid diabetes type 1 and type 2 by taking vitamin D. According to a study, people with diabetes or those at high risk of getting the disease saw better insulin sensitivity after taking vitamin D supplements for six months.
This could prevent diabetes from starting or slow the disease's course in people who already have it.
Helps treat hypertension
Vitamin D may be useful in treating hypertension, which is one of the indicators of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the journal Current Protein & Peptide Science in 2019.
The authors of the review assert that even a brief deficiency in vitamin D can damage target organs and raise blood pressure.
The researchers found that there is a strong correlation between vitamin D and hypertension, which suggests that vitamin D supplementation therapy could be a novel approach to treating it.
Helps with weight loss
Since low vitamin D levels are known to be associated with obesity, increasing vitamin D may aid in weight loss.
For instance, consuming a combination of calcium and vitamin D helped overweight and obese people lose weight when paired with a calorie-restricted diet.
Both sunlight and vitamin D have the power to lift your spirits. A 2017 research published in the journal Neuropsychology reported that there is a strong correlation between vitamin D insufficiency and depression.
The authors recommend screening for and treating vitamin D deficiency in subjects with depression, noting that it is a simple, affordable, and potentially better way to treat depression, even though they acknowledged that more research is needed to define its exact workings, such as whether low vitamin D levels cause depression.
How much vitamin D does our body need?
Adults typically have blood levels of 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or higher of vitamin D. 12 ng/ml and 50 ng/ml are too low and high, respectively, for the levels.
Having levels that are too high or too low can have adverse effects on a person's health. But personal needs are different.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the minimum daily requirements for vitamin D are as follows:
- 0–12 months-400 international units (IU) or 10 micrograms (mcg)
- 1 to 70 years-600 IU or 15 mcg
- 71 years or older-20 mcg or 800 IU
Additionally, those who are nursing or pregnant require 600 IU, or 15 mcg, of vitamin D daily.
Doctors do blood tests to find out if a patient has enough vitamin D in their system. There are two ways that they quantify vitamin D: in nanomoles per liter (nmol/l) or in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).
What are the sources of Vitamin D?
Here are some of the sources of vitamin D:
Fish oils and the meat of fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna, are the finest sources of vitamin D.
Small levels of vitamin D, mostly in the form of vitamin D3 and its metabolite 25(OH)D3, can be found in cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver.
There are different levels of vitamin D2 in mushrooms. Certain mushrooms that are sold have undergone UV light treatment to boost their vitamin D2 content.
Additionally, the FDA has approved the use of UV-treated mushroom powder as a food additive and a source of vitamin D2 in food products.
In addition to vitamin D3, animal-based diets usually contain some vitamin D in the form of 25(OH)D.
Depending on the meal, the overall quantity of vitamin D in the food is 2–18 times larger than the amount in the parent vitamin alone when the 25(OH)D content of the items is included, including beef, pig, chicken, turkey, and eggs.
The majority of the vitamin D in American diets comes from fortified foods. For instance, practically all milk produced in the United States is voluntarily fortified with vitamin D3, typically at a dose of 3 mcg/cup (120 IU).
Other milk-based dairy products, like cheese and ice cream, are not typically fortified in the US. The Nutrition Facts label provides the precise amount of vitamin D.
Plant milk substitutes, such as drinks derived from soy, almond, or oats, are sometimes fortified with quantities of vitamin D that are comparable to those in fortified cow's milk (about 3 mcg [120 IU]/cup).
Vitamin D is often added to ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, as well as to some types of yogurt, orange juice, margarine, and other dietary items.
Infant formula must be fortified with 1–2.5 mcg/100 kcal (40–100 IU) of vitamin D according to US regulations.
The majority of individuals on the planet get at least part of their vitamin D from sunshine. When the skin is exposed to the sun, which has a wavelength of about 290–320 nanometers, cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol turns into previtamin D3, which thereafter becomes vitamin D3.
Factors influencing UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis include skin melanin concentration, season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, and sunscreen.
The sun is less effective in generating vitamin D in older and darker-skinned individuals. Since UVB radiation cannot pass through glass, vitamin D cannot be produced indoors from sunshine coming in via a window.
It is challenging to provide recommendations on the amount of sun exposure necessary for appropriate vitamin D synthesis. This is due to the variables that affect UV radiation exposure, individual responsiveness, and uncertainties regarding the amount of sun exposure needed to maintain acceptable vitamin D levels.
For example, 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., daily or at least twice a week on the face, arms, hands, and legs, without sunscreen usually results in adequate synthesis of vitamin D.
It's also beneficial to utilize commercial tanning beds in moderation, which generate between 2% and 6% UVB light.
While UV radiation from tanning beds and the sun is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D, it is advisable to limit skin exposure to these sources. You can prevent skin cancer caused by UV exposure, which is a carcinogen.
Utilizing sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 and above is one of the photoprotective strategies federal agencies and national organizations recommend following to lower the risk of skin cancer.
You can purchase dietary supplements containing vitamins D2 and D3. UV irradiation of ergosterol in yeast is used to make vitamin D2, while irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol from lanolin made from sheep wool is usually used to make vitamin D3.
There is also vitamin D3 made from lichen, which is not derived from animals. Consumers who steer clear of any product derived from animals should get in touch with dietary supplement manufacturers to inquire about their sourcing and processing methods.
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What are other ways to prevent joint pain?
Numerous preventive measures can also aid in the prevention of joint pain. They include the following:
Consume omega-3 fatty acids
One kind of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids. Among their many advantages is their ability to lower inflammation levels in the body. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that omega-3s lessen RA activity in the joints.
If you’re vegetarian, try other sources of omega-3s like nuts and seeds, such as walnuts; plant oils, such as soybean canola; fortified juices; and soy beverages.
Manage your weight
Keeping a moderate weight can help reduce joint pain. In America, around 23% of overweight individuals and 31% of obese individuals have been diagnosed with arthritis.
For those with knee pain, losing one pound of weight can relieve four pounds of pressure on the knees.
Compared to decreasing 5% of body weight, losing 10% to 20% of starting body weight can significantly improve function, quality of life, and pain.
Get some exercise
Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding your joints and relieves the strain that comes with carrying extra weight. They are stabilized and may be shielded from damage by this.
Walking, swimming, and biking are examples of this kind of exercise that raises your heart rate and increases endurance. They help your general fitness level and can assist in reducing the weight that might be placing undue strain on your joints. Try to get 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week.
Your joints may naturally deteriorate over time. Injuries to your joints, such as those sustained during sports or accidents, can harm the cartilage and accelerate its deterioration.
Always warm up before playing sports and wear the appropriate safety gear to prevent injuries. Put on elbow, wrist, and knee protectors, as well as supportive, cozy shoes.
Protect your joints
Joint problems may arise from knee bending, climbing, kneeling, hard lifting, and squatting. Joint strain can be particularly severe when lifting.
Additional risk factors for joint pain are standing and exposure to vibration. By sitting and lifting with proper form, you can lessen the daily stress on your joints.
For instance, while lifting up objects, lift using your hips and knees rather than your back. Keep objects close to your body to avoid straining your wrists.
It can be challenging to break the habit. But giving up smoking helps prevent joint pain.
Male smokers have about twice the risk of developing RA compared to male nonsmokers, the researchers discovered. Compared to female nonsmokers, female smokers had a 1.3-fold increased risk of developing RA.
The higher risk, according to the researchers, might result from RA's effects on immune system function. Since smoking causes inflammation all across the body, RA is an inflammatory illness.
The results of your treatment may potentially be impacted by smoking. Anti-inflammatory drugs don't work as effectively in smokers.
Treat any infections
Bacteria and viruses can cause more than simply coughing and sneezing when they make you sick. Additionally, some of these bacteria might cause arthritis by infecting your joints.
A painful type of joint illness, infectious arthritis, also known as septic arthritis, is brought on by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (staph).
These bacteria typically enter the bloodstream and make their way to the joint's fluid or surrounding tissue. You can use antibiotics to treat this kind of arthritis.
Get more ergonomic
You can avoid further strain and chronic pain on already sore joints by arranging your house and office more ergonomically. Assume adequate support for your arms, legs, and back if you must sit for extended amounts of time at work.
For optimal neck strain prevention at work, position your computer monitor around an arm's length away from you and 15 degrees below your line of sight. To maintain a neutral posture for your hands and arms, utilize an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
Select an office chair with a headrest and adequate lumbar (lower back) support.
Maintain a straight back while sitting, and place your feet firmly on the ground or on a footrest. Place your arms at a 90-degree angle with the armrests in place and your wrists straight.
Keep an eye on your blood sugar
Diabetes and arthritis are related in two ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis is present in 47% of American adults who have diabetes. The chance of having diabetes is 61% higher in people with arthritis.
Risk factors for both diabetes and arthritis include aging, weight, and inactivity. Even if they are not overweight, people with type 2 diabetes risk developing osteoarthritis (OA).
One explanation for this could be that persistently elevated blood sugar levels can cause low-grade inflammation in the body.
Additionally, it plays a part in generating reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are molecules that aid in the induction of cytokines, or inflammatory proteins, in the joints.
Avoiding complications like nerve and eye damage requires controlling diabetes and getting frequent blood sugar tests. Additionally, there is evidence that managing your diabetes may protect your joints by delaying the onset of osteoarthritis.
What are other vitamins for joint pain?
Alongside vitamin D, other vitamins that are essential for joint health include:
Due to its antioxidant properties, people commonly turn to vitamin E to help their immune systems. There is, however, some evidence that vitamin E can stimulate the production of new cartilage cells and halt the advancement of osteoarthritis.
Since vitamin E also supports healthy vision and brain function, it's a useful supplement to keep on hand. Just be aware that it may cause bleeding when combined with blood thinners.
In addition to its well-known ability to prevent winter colds, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that reduces inflammation by aiding in the manufacture of collagen, the main protein found in bone and joint tissue.
Vitamin C is very important for persons with compromised immune systems, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis, which can seriously damage joints. Vitamin C fights infections that can lead to joint inflammation.
Certain proteins that help build new bones and prevent the degradation of old ones are activated in part by vitamin K. Insufficient levels of vitamin K can result in bone loss and fractures, making it crucial for bone health.
A diversified and well-balanced diet should provide an adequate amount of vitamin K for each individual. There are also over-the-counter vitamin K supplements.
Research indicates that a deficiency in vitamin B12 might exacerbate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as stiffness and discomfort in the joints.
In particular, vitamin B12 helps with joint and muscular pain because it preserves nerves, promotes nerve regeneration, and may lessen the pain from previous injuries.
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Takeaway: Reclaim joint wellness with the right amount of vitamin D
Many people take vitamin D supplements to help them fulfill their daily needs; however, an excess of vitamin D can result in a number of unpleasant symptoms, including pain in the joints.
Steer clear of high vitamin D dosages. If you have normal levels of vitamin D, you can safely take supplements with 4,000 IU or less per day.
It will be essential to get monthly blood tests to check vitamin D levels in the body if you may need to take large dosages of the vitamin in order to reduce toxicity.
Although the effects of vitamin D toxicity or insufficient quantities can vary from minor physical symptoms like joint pain to more serious diseases like kidney damage, vitamin D is an essential mineral needed for your body to function properly.
Individuals with low vitamin D levels often experience joint pain. In certain cases, you can treat vitamin D insufficiency with supplements to relieve joint pain.
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