Arthritis is a condition that plagues the joints in the body, wearing down the cartilage lining the bones. This can cause debilitating pain and, over time, threaten mobility. Fortunately, there is mounting evidence that lifestyle factors can do a lot to slow, if not prevent, the progression of the disease. One vitamin, in particular, may shield the joints against painful inflammation.
The degenerative condition can affect people across all age groups, but typically afflicts people over the age of 50.
Mounting evidence indicates that making slight changes to your diet can bring significant improvements to the development of the condition.
The University of Harvard’s medical department has shed some light on some of the essential nutrients the body needs to fend off painful inflammation.
Vitamin D, the institution claims, may help slow the progression of inflammation in the joints.
Studies have shown a deficiency in the sunshine vitamin – so-called because it is produced by the body through the action of sunlight – could accelerate the onset of painful symptoms.
It claims: “Research studies have linked low blood levels of D with increased risk of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
“Additional research shows that osteoarthritis gets worse three times faster in people with inadequate vitamin D in their diets compared with those who have sufficient D.
“Currently, the [American] Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get 600 to 800 International Units per day.
“Many experts advise 1,000 IU per day. According to the Institute of Medicine, doses up to 4,000 IU per day are safe.”
According to the website, typically vitamin D supplements provide 400IU.
Supplementation is often recommended for those deemed severely deficient in vitamin D.
Some foods are also a good source – notably fish, dairy products, and some fortified products.
It is believed that more than one in five Britons do not have enough of the essential vitamin in their bodies.
In fact, figures have shown that vitamin D deficiency in the UK is higher than in many countries in Europe.
The pandemic, which saw millions of Britons deprived of sunlight, is thought to have fuelled the “endemic”.
One 2020 report stated: “Given the protective effects of vitamin D against respiratory tract infections and wider health benefits, the government should consider how to encourage the use of vitamin D this winter, particularly in vulnerable and low socioeconomic groups.”
Researchers, who have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of Vitamin D for the immune system, claimed earlier this year that it may boost protection against the virus.
Aside from vitamin D-packed foods, brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables are also deemed helpful for arthritis, as they contain key compounds known to decrease inflammation.
Some studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet, which consists mainly of vegetables and fruits, could help alleviate symptoms within three months.
In order to reap the benefits for arthritis, the Harvard Health website recommends eating nine portions of fruits and vegetables per day.