Vitamin D may not be the answer for arthritis pain relief in our knees, but it’s still a vitamin vital for good bone health.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
A new study from Tufts Medical Center found vitamin D supplements did not reduce knee pain or cartilage volume loss among knee osteoarthritis sufferers. Yet even if Vitamin D isn’t effective as a pain treatment, it’s critically important in treating the underlying cause, which is osteoarthritis.
“We care about the bone health, just underneath the cartilage. Vitamin D is very important for bone health,” says Cleveland Clinic rheumatologist Elaine Husni, MD, MPH. “If we can optimize your vitamin D level we can optimize bone health, and therefore possibly slow down the progression of knee osteoarthritis.”
Good sources of vitamin D
The best sources of vitamin D are fortified food and supplements, and the body does make some vitamin D when exposed to the sun (though it’s smart to limit exposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer).
Few foods naturally have vitamin D, so your best bets are fortified foods. Check food labels to see how much vitamin D each item contains.
Food sources of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel
- Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks
- Milk – almost all milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D
- Fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt, soy beverages (check labels)
Other solutions for knee pain
Dr. Husni treats arthritis pain and says while vitamin D supplements may not work for your knee pain, talk to your doctor about other relief options, including:
- Oral pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Biomechanical techniques, such as physical therapy
- Injection therapy — medications such as hyaluronan or corticosteroids injected directly into the knee joints