Can vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements help ease pain and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
Diet plays a part in many chronic conditions. When you have RA, failing to get proper nutrition might make your symptoms worse. Getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients might help relieve your symptoms and lower your risk of complications.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the vitamins, minerals, and supplements that may help you stay healthy with RA.
Everyone needs vitamin D. It helps your body absorb calcium. It also helps your bones grow properly and stay strong.
Getting enough vitamin D may be especially important for people with RA. That’s because some RA medications can raise your risk of vitamin D deficiencies. This can lead to complications.
According to researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, people who take oral steroids have a heightened risk of vitamin D deficiency. If you take corticosteroids for RA, you’re twice as likely to be short on this crucial vitamin than the average person.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your bones can become soft and brittle. This can raise your risk of bone fractures, deformities, and other problems.
For people with RA, vitamin D can have additional benefits: RA is an autoimmune disorder, and vitamin D plays a role in the immune system. People with RA also have high levels of inflammation, and vitamin D helps mediate this condition.
If you have RA, get your vitamin D levels checked regularly, and take steps to correct any nutritional deficiencies.
To increase your vitamin D levels, the Arthritis Foundation recommends getting 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure every other day. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun helps your body produce its own vitamin D.
However, too much UV ray exposure can cause skin cancer. Don’t spend too much time in the sun with your skin exposed.
You can also get more vitamin D by adjusting your diet. For example, this important vitamin is found in certain types of fish, such as salmon and mackerel. Small amounts of it are also found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
Few other foods contain vitamin D naturally. However, some are fortified with it. For example, vitamin D is added to many brands of milk, cheese, and breakfast cereals.
It’s important for people with RA to get their vitamin D levels checked. If you can’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight and diet alone, your doctor may suggest taking a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D isn’t the only important nutrient when you have RA. According to the John Hopkins Arthritis Center, vitamin E deficiency is also relatively common among people with RA.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Some people believe it might help decrease damage to the linings of your joints. In turn, this might help reduce pain and swelling.
More research is needed to test this theory. Whether true or not, it’s a good idea to include vitamin-E rich foods in your diet, such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. In some cases, your doctor may also advise you to take a vitamin E supplement.
Other supplements may also help relieve joint pain and reduce your risk of complications from RA treatments.
If methotrexate (MTX) is part of your RA treatment, you may need to take a folic acid supplement. Another name for folic acid is vitamin B9. MTX affects your body’s ability to absorb it. If you don’t get enough vitamin B9, you may develop anemia or other health problems.
Your doctor may also encourage you to take bromelain. This compound is made from a group of enzymes derived from pineapple. According to the Arthritis Foundation, some evidence suggests it might have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Some vitamins, minerals, and other supplements can interact with certain medications. Always check with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of taking it. They can also help you learn how much you should take.
A healthy diet alone won’t cure your RA symptoms. But eating a nutrient-rich diet can help you stay as healthy as possible. In some cases, it may even decrease common symptoms of this painful condition and lower your risk of complications from medications used to treat it.