Video Q & A:

Diet and RA


Which nutrients do people with RA often lack?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

No one has the perfect diet, but people with rheumatoid arthritis tend to lack more nutrients than usual. Find out what you're missing out on.

Transcript: People with rheumatoid arthritis are often deficient in nutrients and trace minerals as folic acid, vitamins D, C and E, and the minerals calcium, zinc, selenium and magnesium. These deficiencies frequently occur because the physical toll of the disease PREVENTS people with rheumatoid arthritis from buying and preparing NUTRITIOUS foods. Or they may be a result of rheumatoid arthritis medications. While healthcare providers DO prefer you upping your nutrient intake through your DIET, supplements CAN help you stay healthy as well. Folic acid supplementation may be MOST important for people who are on long-term, low-dose methotrexate treatment. Research shows that people who take folic acid supplements reduce the side effects of methotrexate, such as gastrointestinal distress and abnormal liver function, and tend to stick with that medication longer than those who do not take folic acid supplements. Calcium’s role in maintaining bone health is vital for people taking corticosteroid drugs for their rheumatoid arthritis. Steroids, taken to manage RA-associated pain, can reduce bone density. They pose a heightened risk to menopausal women, already prone to osteoporosis. So it’s important to get enough calcium through both diet and supplements. Along with calcium, VITAMIN D3 plays an important role in bone health. Additionally, vitamin D3’s work as an IMMUNE regulator makes it valuable for people with chronic immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D deficiency is commonly associated with RA and people with HIGHER levels of the nutrient often have LOWER disease activity and disability. Moderate sun exposure, food and supplements can boost your vitamin D levels. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to talk to your health care provider about how these and other nutrients may improve your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. For more on rheumatoid arthritis and your health, look for other videos in this series. More »

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