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Obese Osteoarthritis Patients Can Benefit From Vitamin D

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Higher levels of vitamin D may help to reduce pain and improve function in osteoarthritis patients who are overweight, according to new research.

A University of Florida study found that obese individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis and have adequate vitamin D levels could walk, balance and rise from sitting to standing better than obese participants with insufficient vitamin D levels. The researchers said their findings suggest an association between obesity and vitamin D status for such tasks.

Obesity in itself can lead to a lack of vitamin D. Previous research has suggested that the larger fat amount in obese people can cause the vitamin to be stored inside fat tissue instead of circulated in the body.

“Adequate vitamin D may be significant to improving osteoarthritis pain because it affects bone quality and protects cell function to help reduce inflammation. Vitamin D maintains calcium and phosphate concentration levels to keep bones strong,” explained lead author Toni L. Glover, an assistant professor in the University of Florida College of Nursing. “Increased pain due to osteoarthritis could limit physical activity, including outdoor activity, which would lead to both decreased vitamin D levels and increased obesity.”

Glover noted that vitamin D is inexpensive and available over-the-counter, and toxicity is quite rare. “Older obese patients with chronic pain should discuss their vitamin D status with their primary care provider. If it´s low, take a supplement and get judicious sun exposure,” she advised.

The vitamin can also be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp, mushrooms and egg yolks, as well as foods fortified with vitamin D, such as cereals and yoghurts.

The findings of the study have been published in the Clinical Journal of Pain.