Rheumatoid arthritis results from a faulty immune response or auto-immunity that affects a greater percentage of women, thus leading to premature mortality, disability to carry out daily activities and a compromised quality of life in women. The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is about three to four times higher in women than men due to many risk factors like irregular menses, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, etc.
This has been the leading cause of an increase in the rates of incidence of rheumatoid arthritis by 2.5% in women from 1997 to 2005, while in men the rates dropped significantly by 0.5%. Moreover, the life time risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women has been estimated to be 4% when compared to men, whose risk has been found to be 3%. Hence, irrespective of the age, a woman needs to constantly stay vigilant about her dietary intake, especially focusing on those nutrients that the body fails to synthesize.
Vitamins in a dietary form or as supplements have been shown to serve as one of the best natural supplements for fending off the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Hence, it is mandatory for every woman to take precautionary measures by increasing the intake of natural supplements like vitamins for preventing and treating rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamins for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Ample amount of scientific evidence has established an association between low serum levels of vitamin D in women and an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in Rheumatology International established a direct link between low levels of vitamin D and a decreasing functionality of joints in women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. No other vitamin has been found to be as effective as vitamin D in alleviating joint pains, swelling and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis in women.
In fact, a study conducted by Boston University School of Public Health have reported that insufficient amounts of sunlight received by the states lying in northern latitudes, results in a higher deficiency of vitamin D, which poses a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis for women inhibiting northern latitudes when compared to women living in more southern latitudes. Besides helping in promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorous by the bones, vitamin D has also been shown to modulate and regulate the functionality of the immune system, thus making it a very good candidate for fighting auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Hence, a disturbance in vitamin D metabolism serves as one of the leading causes of rheumatoid arthritis in women. Women who consume less than 200 mg of vitamin D per day have been found to have a 33% higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than women who take a daily intake of about 200-400 mg of vitamin D. Besides exposure to sun, food sources like dairy products, cereals, nuts, wheat grains, green leafy vegetables, etc. provide you with adequate amounts of vitamin D to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no dearth of scientific evidence that support the crucial role of vitamin C in mitigating the inflammatory joint pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis in women. This association has been confirmed by studies, which have reported a three to four times higher susceptibility of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women who suffer from the deficiency of vitamin C. Acting as a potent anti-oxidant, it enhances the immune system by warding off damaging free radicals from the body.
The accumulation of these free radicals can deteriorate the joints to a great extent by causing prolonged inflammation of the joints. A daily dosage of 600 mg of vitamin C has been recommended for women to fight the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, bear in mind that excess amounts of vitamin C can increase the chances of developing knee osteoarthritis in women.
Also, it is a good practice to avoid the high-dosage containing vitamin C supplements and increase your dietary intake of vitamin C gradually by making citrus fruits, kiwi, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple, berries and dark green vegetables containing high amounts of vitamin C, a part of your diet.
Being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E may also bring some relief to women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis by flushing out damaging free radicals from the body that can cause considerable damage to the cartilage and the tissues lining the joints. It also improves blood circulation, thus playing an important role in speeding up the process of cartilage repair and promoting overall joint mobility in women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Even though, a daily dosage of 15 mg has been proven to be sufficient to treat rheumatoid arthritis, women have been prescribed a dosage as high as 400 mg for mitigating the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Natural food sources of vitamin E include avocados, egg yolk, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, etc.
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Although, a very few clinical trials support the benefit of vitamin A in treating rheumatoid arthritis, many women have found a considerable decrease in the swelling, redness and inflammation in the affected arthritic joints. Similar to vitamin C and E, vitamin A also acts as a potent anti-oxidant by exerting its protective role on the immune system by gathering and taking away the destructive power from free radicals.
A daily dosage of 23,000-25,000 IU obtained through dietary sources like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, peaches and dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, etc. has been recommended for preventing the destruction of joints in women.
Beat the adverse effects caused by anti-inflammatory medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis by adapting natural ways of treating this condition and promote a long term improvement in joint health. Try as much as you can to include foods rich in vitamins and other essential minerals like zinc, iron, manganese, etc., in your diet rather than adapting instant ways of obtaining vitamins and minerals through supplements available in the market.
However, if you suffer from vitamin deficiencies due to some medical illnesses, then you should allow your doctor to intervene for recommending a supplement suitable for treating the severity of your condition. Lastly, stay active and get moving by making walking, yoga, aquatic aerobic exercises or some form physical activity and a well-balanced diet, a part of your lifestyle to maintain healthy joints and bones that enable you to fight the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and move towards a healthier life.