Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by widespread damage and inflammation in the joints and soft tissues surrounding the joints. Researchers at the University of Manchester in England compared dietary intake of antioxidants and the risk of developing a type of rheumatoid arthritis called inflammatory polyarthritis (IP). They recorded the diets of a large group of British men and women aged 45–74 years for five years. During that time, 73 participants developed IP.
After comparing the diets of people with and without IP, the researchers found that lower intakes of fruits, vegetables and vitamin C were associated with an increased risk of IP. Those people in the lowest category of vitamin C intake increased their risk of developing IP more than threefold.
Vitamin D is a critical ingredient in bone health and a recent study indicates it may also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. At the University of Iowa, researchers studied data from the Iowa Women’s Health Study and found that low vitamin D intake is linked to a greater risk of RA. The diet and supplement use was recorded for 29,368 women aged 55–69 years without a history of RA. Through 11 years of follow-up, 152 cases of RA were confirmed. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that a greater intake of vitamin D, both dietary and supplemental, was associated with lower risk of RA. The researchers concluded that increased intake of vitamin D was associated with a lower risk of RA and recommended further studies.
Sources: Ann Rheum Dis. 2004 Jul;63(7):843-7; Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Jan;50(1):72-7