Rheumatoid Arthritis and Vitamin D

Deficiency in RA patients

A study out of the Albert Einstein University of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City, found that people who take corticosteroid medications are twice as likely to become vitamin D deficient, compared to those who don’t take them.

Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, prescribed to reduce inflammation in RA patients, can reduce calcium absorption and impair vitamin D metabolism. Other RA medications, such as Hydroxychloroquine and immunosuppressants are also linked to malabsorption of vitamin D. If you are taking these medications to treat RA symptoms and pain, it is important to have your levels checked regularly.

These is also an increased risk for RA patients who are restricted from going outside due to mobility issues and disability, live in parts of the world where sunlight is limited during the winter months, have dark skin, or who frequently wear clothing covering most of the body.

Symptoms and tests for vitamin D deficiency

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency for patients with RA include worsening pain, depression, weak bones, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. It takes one simple blood test to get your levels tested. A 25-hydoxy vitamin D test can tell your doctor if your vitamin D level is deficient or if you are at risk due to lower levels.

The 25-hydoxy test measures vitamin D levels in blood as nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Normal levels of vitamin D are between 30-40 ng/mL. Deficiency is a level less than 20 ng/mL, while toxic levels are anything greater than 150 ng/mL.
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