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Increased Knee Osteoarthritis Pain Tied to Insufficient Vitamin D Levels in African Americans

By November 8, 2012

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According to study results published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, African Americans with knee osteoarthritis had more pain and lower levels of vitamin D than Caucasians. Researchers provided 45 African Americans and 49 Caucasians with questionnaires and measured vitamin D levels. All of the study participants had symptomatic osteoarthritis and lived in a sunny climate (the sun is our greatest natural source of vitamin D).

Researchers found that 84% of African Americans had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL compared to 51% of Caucasians. A vitamin D level below 30 ng/mL is considered insufficient. The average vitamin D level for African Americans in the study was 19.9 ng/mL (indicative of deficiency) compared to an average of 28.2 ng/mL (indicative of insufficiency) for Caucasians.

Researchers also tested the study participants for heat and pain sensitivity. Results showed that African Americans had greater sensitivity to heat and pain compared to Caucasians. Researchers associated the heightened sensitivity with lower vitamin D levels. More studies will be needed to fully understand the link between vitamin D and pain sensitivity.

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