What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks bones, joints, and cartilage resulting in inflammation of those areas. 75% of people with this type of arthritis are women, and can affect people of any age. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may suffer from:
- morning joint stiffness
- bumps around joints (especially hands and feet)
- low energy
- loss of appetite
- anemia (low red blood cell count)
Rheumatoid Arthritis has been linked to vitamin D deficiency. Luckily, when the deficiency is corrected, it also treats the inflammation of arthritis. Researchers have learned that the more vitamin D a person has, the less often they experience morning stiffness and joint pain related to rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D can help to regulate the immune system, as well as maintain calcium levels. This is why it’s such a vital health factor for people with rheumatoid arthritis and other bone or joint problems.
Do you Have a Vitamin D Deficiency?
Nutritionists suggest a simple at-home test to see if you have low vitamin D levels. Just press against your sternum with your hand (aka breastbone). If that causes pain, you probably have a vitamin D deficiency. You can also ask your doctor or nutritionist about getting tested for vitamin D levels.
A vitamin D deficiency can also carry symptoms like depression or constant low mood, excessive sweating, weakness, and fatigue in spite of getting enough sleep. Not to mention, having rheumatoid arthritis is actually a pretty reliable indicator that you’re not getting enough vitamin D.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
In addition to regulating the immune system, vitamin D promotes healthy bones and teeth. Getting 800 international units (IU) can reduce the risk of bone fractures by 20%. No wonder it’s used to treat arthritis! This is especially important for adults, since bone production is much slower after childhood. Also, vitamin D is known to help moderate insulin levels in the blood. Making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D means you’re helping to prevent developing diabetes (or manage it, if you have been diagnosed already).
Where to Find Vitamin D
The consensus about how much vitamin D adults need every day has actually changed in recent years, in light of the growing numbers of people with a deficiency. Currently, it is recommended that adults get 4000 IU’s of vitamin D per day. How can you make sure you’re reaching that number every day to treat rheumatoid arthritis? There are a few notable sources of vitamin D you can take advantage of:
- The sun is still our best source of Vitamin D. But how much sunlight do we need to get enough? Let’s say it’s a slightly cloudy day, and you’re outside on your lawn; you’d need at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight without any sunscreen or UV protection to get enough vitamin D for the day. Fortunately, scientists have confirmed that commercial UV tanning lights can actually provide the same benefits of vitamin D, when sunlight is scarce during the winter.
- Food sources: Fish are a great source of vitamin D, especially wild salmon; 2 large eggs = 88 IUs, some yogurts are fortified with vitamin D, providing up to 70 IU’s. look at the nutritional facts to find out which ones,
- Cod liver oil. Very high source of vitamin D makes it an easy supplement if you’re not eating fish or spending time outside sans sunscreen.
Try these natural sources of vitamin D as a way to fight the painful symptoms of arthritis. It only takes a few simple steps to treat your joint inflammation, and start seriously protecting your bones.
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