How Vitamin D Can Help Treat Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Essential for healthy bones and general health, vitamin D is formed in the body following skin exposure to sunlight. It can also be sourced from some foods, such as fish, eggs and fortified grain and dairy products. It is important for calcium absorption and utilization, hence it’s vital role in supporting healthy bones and joints.

A deficiency in the vitamin has been linked to the parthenogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Increasing availability can help to better protect the body from joint related ailments

Rheumatoid ArthritisVitamin D foods

Many studies have found a strong correlation between low vitamin-D levels and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In 2004, (2004). Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the lowa Woman’s Heath Study. Arthritis and Rheumatism. Volume 50, Issue 1, (pp. 72-7).”].

These findings have been validated in further studies1, including a comprehensive meta-analysis concluding that intake levels are associated with rheumatoid arthritis activity2.

Immune system cells have vitamin-D receptors, indicating immune-regulatory properties. Increasing intake has been clinically shown to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, especially during winter when exposure to sunlight is typically reduced3.


Recent research has found that vitamin D has important biological functions within knee joint structures and can impact the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Zang and colleagues investigated serum concentrations of the vitamin (25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]) and the parathyroid hormone which regulates vitamin D in order to predict knee osteoarthritis progression4.

Researchers concluded that study participants with both low levels of the vitamin and high concentrations of parathyroid hormone had more than a 3-fold increased risk of knee osteoarthritis progression.

Other research has found that gene polymorphisms associated with receptors of the vitamin may lower immunity and increase the risk of osteoarthritis5. However, this is controversial and more research is necessary.


Vitamin D plays an integral role in supporting healthy bones and joints. Furthermore, it assists in autoimmune responses that protect against inflammation. There is a clear correlation between reduced availability and an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Ensuring daily exposure to sunlight and eating vitamin enriched foods can help to increase the availability of this important vitamin.


  1. “Kostoglou-Athanassiou, I. (2012). Vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism. Volume 3, Issue 6.”
  2. “Song, G., Bae, S. and Lee. Y. (2012). Association between vitamin D intake and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis: meta-analysis. Clinical Rheumatology, Volume 31, Issue 12, (pp. 1733-9).”
  3. “Cutolo, M. (2007). Vitamin D in rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune Review, Volume 7, Issue 1, (pp. 59-64).”
  4. “Zhang, F. (2014). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with progression of knee osteroarthritis. American Society for Nutrition. Volume 144, Issue 12, (pp. 2002-08).”
  5. “Zhu, Z. (2014). Associations between vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms and osteoarthritis: an updated meta-analysis. Rheumatology. Volume 53, Issue 6, (pp. 998-1008).”