Vitamin D: Great for Bones But Not Pain Relief

Vitamin D supplements not found to relieve knee pain
Milk, eggs, cheese and mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D to help bones

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.

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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).

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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
  • Mushrooms
  • 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:

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  • 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

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