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Researchers randomly assigned 107 patients with confirmed knee osteoarthritis and vitamin D insufficiency (blood levels below 50 nmol/L) to receive a vitamin D supplement or no vitamin D (placebo). The vitamin D group received 60,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for ten days, followed by 60,000 IU once a month for 12 months. The placebo group received one placebo capsule per day for ten days, followed by one capsule once per month for 12 months.
The study participants completed questionnaires to assess knee pain and function. The researchers measured blood levels of active vitamin D, calcium, and alkaline phosphatase—a protein found in the body that may indicate active bone formation when elevated. After one year, compared with the placebo group, the vitamin D group experienced:
The blood level changes suggest that:
This study was a controlled clinical trial, yet the authors noted potential limitations: the study was small and though results were statistically significant, they may not be clinically relevant, meaning they may not make a noticeable difference in people’s lives. The authors also pointed out that the study provides a rationale for conducting a much larger, clinical trial, but that “This is a primary issue that needs to be addressed before deciding whether to incorporate, in clinical practice, vitamin D intervention in patients with knee OA and a vitamin D insufficiency.”
Keep the following in mind, regardless of whether or not you incorporate vitamin D supplements into your osteoarthritis self-care plan.
(Clin Orthop Relat Res 2013;?DOI 10.1007/s11999-013-3201-6)