Harvard Women's Health Watch

Other options better than vitamin D for knee arthritis

We've known for some time that vitamin D—along with calcium—can help shore up our bones and protect against osteoporosis. More recently, researchers have wondered whether this vitamin might also slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis. A study published January 9 in The Journal of the American Medical Association randomly assigned 146 people with knee osteoarthritis (ages 45 and older) to receive vitamin D or a placebo daily for two years. At the end of the study period, there wasn't much difference in pain or cartilage loss between the participants who took vitamin D and those who were on a placebo. The authors said they might have seen more of a benefit if they had continued the study past two years, but as of now, vitamin D seems to be a bust for arthritic knees. You should still keep taking vitamin D to protect your bones, but stick with more proven methods for treating knee osteoarthritis. Work with a physical therapist to learn strengthening exercises, lose excess weight if you're overweight, try braces to support your painful joint, and take pain relievers if you need them.

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