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Maintaining high blood levels of vitamin D may hold off the cartilage loss that is the hallmark of osteoarthritis, according to researchers from Australia.
"Achieving vitamin D sufficiency in osteoarthritis patients could significantly delay total knee replacement," said Changhai Ding, of the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, in an interview with Reuters Health.
Ding and his colleagues measured vitamin D level in blood samples and the volume of cartilage on x-rays of men and women between 51 and 79 years old. They then followed up with the same measurements three years later on.
Overall, 58 percent of the subjects showed evidence of worsening osteoarthritis, and half reported knee pain. However, the researchers found that at both the beginning and the end of the trial, people with lower levels of vitamin D had less cartilage and were more prone to osteoarthritis.
The exact link between vitamin D and cartilage loss is unclear, however Ding and his colleagues would like to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation can delay the onset of osteoarthritis or even the need for total knee replacement in patients who already have the disease.
The research appears in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
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