| research/study

Reducing Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms: Can Vitamin D Help?

Research Associates Lower Vitamin D Levels With Worse Symptoms in Patients with RA

Researchers from Hospital Universitario Campus de la Salud in Spain report that reduced levels of vitamin D are associated with increased severity of symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  RA is an autoimmune disease affecting over 1.3 million patients in the US. Treatment with biologics or antirheumatic drugs can produce a remission of symptoms, but studies have found that ½ of patients relapse within a year of achieving remission. This occurs both because adverse effects from the medications cause patients to taper or stop their therapy, and that some patients develop antibodies that inhibit the effectiveness of the biologics. In the pursuit of a more effective treatment alternative, the research team sought to investigate the relationship between RA symptom severity and vitamin D levels. While previous research has suggested a link between RA and vitamin D deficiency, no work had been done to evaluate how the clinical course of the condition might be impacted by vitamin D levels.

The team measured levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), a marker of vitamin D status, in blood samples from 78 patients with RA and in 41 healthy control subjects. Patients’ disease status, active or in remission, was also noted. Just 33% of patients with RA had adequate vitamin D levels, as measured by 25(OH)D concentrations, and levels of the marker were even lower in patients whose RA was producing active symptoms, including pain and inflammation in joints. Study coauthor Jose Luis Garcia de Veas Silva, PhD, commented, “According to the results obtained, we have observed that vitamin D deficiency is associated with the activity of [RA]. Patients with active disease had lower levels of vitamin D than those with disease in remission. Our results indicate that vitamin D supplementation should be considered in the treatment of patients with RA.” The findings were presented earlier this week at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Read about the discovery and recommendations.

The presentation abstract may be read here.

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