The study, published in August in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, analyzed vitamin D levels in patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. By comparing these patients to a group of people without these diseases, they found that patients with rheumatic diseases had lower levels of vitamin D.
Almost 3,000 patients participated in the study, 721 of whom had psoriatic arthritis. Similar numbers of people had rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, while 677 people were included as controls.
About 40 percent of people in each patient group were vitamin D deficient, compared with 26.7 percent of controls, according to the study.
Researchers analyzed the association between rheumatic diseases and vitamin D levels, they explained, because previous studies have found that vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system. Previous studies have also found vitamin D deficiencies in patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, although research has been slim in analyzing deficiencies in patients with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.
It is not clear whether a vitamin D deficiency could occur as a cause or effect of inflammatory diseases like the ones studied, the researchers noted. These diseases could affect the way the body processes vitamin D. But another possible explanation for low vitamin D levels could be because these patients may be less physically active and spend less time outdoors, according to the researchers.
Either way, researchers recommend that patients work together with their doctors to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin D.
You could put it on your fall to-do list—dust off your sweaters, set your clocks back and check your vitamin D.
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