People with low levels of vitamin D circulating in their blood stream have been shown in epidemiological studies to be more susceptible to osteoarthritis. Such observational studies have also suggested that higher levels of vitamin D might have a positive effect on the progression of arthritis.

Because of these preliminary data, scientists at Tufts Medical Center organized a two-year randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of vitamin D supplementation. The subjects were suffering from pain and stiffness due to osteoarthritis of their knees. The participants who were randomized to receive vitamin D started at 2,000 International Units a day. The dose was increased if necessary to make sure that blood levels of the active form of this nutrient reached at least 36 nanograms per milliliter. By the end of the two-year trial, nearly two-thirds of those receiving vitamin D had reached the target blood levels. Although there was a trend towards reduced knee pain among those who received vitamin D, the difference was not statistically significant.

[JAMA, Jan. 9, 2013]
We were surprised to note that not everyone managed to get their blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D into the target range, even though some people got doses as high as 8,000 IU/day. To learn more about vitamin D, how it is measured in the body, and what an appropriate dose might be, we suggest our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.D

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  1. julianswilson

    I had also severe knee pain. I too agree that Vitamin D products do help in reducing the pain. lack of this vitamin causes a multiple disorders.

  2. fbl

    Please add the following comment to my post, I forgot to say how often I take D: I am taking 15,000 iu of vitamin D3 daily.

  3. fbl

    Csoehl, I’m really sorry you went through that but don’t diss vitamin D quite yet. What they gave you was D2 and it is NOT effective (or assimilated) like D3. I know Drs. use the D2 because my son’s fiance worked in a dialysis center and that is what they used and they couldn’t understand why they didn’t get results.
    D2 is a prescription, payable by insurances and Medicare. D3 is a supplement that nobody reimburses for.
    I don’t know where your D level started but you might just start in increments and raise the amount about every month and see what happens. It took many years for my Dr. to get my D level up from 20. He was very conservative and finally threw up his hands and said “double it!”. It finally got up to the low 40s and we were about to raise it again when I got a notice forwarded by Apparently someone at NOW’s factory screwed up and the amount of D in my supplement was many times that stated on the label. My Dr. just grinned and had me tested. I was 110. He was delighted as our target was 100 (I am a cancer survivor). He said not to take any D for a month and then start again at about 15,000 iu a day. It has worked very well!
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We appreciate FBL’s testimony, but caution others that 15,000 IU daily would be considered too much for many people.

  4. Csoehl

    Two doctors dosed me with that 50,000 iu regimen and each time sent me into episodes of excruciating pain for months. I will never allow that again, no matter how trendy Vitamin D dosing is. Human bodies try to achieve homeostasis when stressed. There may be a reason that Vitamin D levels are low that have nothing to do with real deficiency. The body may be protecting itself against increased blood calcium levels which can be very destructive.

  5. Cindy B.

    I’ve badly injured my knees over and over and over… breaks, strains, sprains…. One has several screws holding it together. A doctor told me my knees were “disintegrating” 10 years ago. Yet today I can still ski and hike hard with little discomfort. I attribute this to taking hyaluronic acid, which lubricates the joints from within, and also lots of fish oil and ground flaxseed. I also use the gin-soaked raisins and certo-and-grape juice, and this quickly resolves any knee pain. Added all together, this regimen is fabulous for getting rid of knee pain. While my friends are getting surgeries for lesser injuries, I plug along without much problem.

  6. fbl

    Too many studies like this are a waste of time and money!
    Karen is right, 36 is about half what the number should be, especially if the subjects are heavy. I’ve read a lot of studies on natural supplements that do the same type of thing. Give minimal doses and then “prove” the substance doesn’t work. Grrrrr.

  7. EGK

    Maybe a pill or supplement does not function like real sunlight that might have a measurable benefit.

  8. Carrol B

    Here is another example of a trial designed to fail. The gold standard for
    optimal health is between 50 and 70npm. None of these ever came close according to the info provided. Knowledgeable Drs. have given 50,000ius per week for a month to bring patients to the desired range. Then let them supplement about 4,000.

  9. Karen

    1. 36 ng/ml isn’t that high.
    2. Obese people need way more D3 than “ideal” weight people, and obese people are more likely to have knee pain.
    3. This is a one-variable study on a problem that has TONS of active variables.
    4. I wonder what it says about patients that they would put up with two years of knee pain on a one-variable treatment, so I suspect either the validity of the results or the veracity of the patients.

  10. Judy Z

    Nothing helps my knee pain better than MSM 1,000 mg, twice a day, plus a daily walk of at least a mile. When my knees have been subjected to extra stress, I take a third capsule. It does the trick! I will soon be 70 years old.

  11. HN

    Unfortunately, 36ng/ml is not enough for most people to experience any benefits. It’s the “optimal” range (the blood level at 50 to 80ng/ml) where many of the important benefits can be realized. Also, vitamin D3 needs to be taken with the heaviest meal of the day to achieve higher blood levels, especially a meal with enough fat in it. I doubt that the study that was mentioned in this article factored that in. But, as usual, the media will jump on this study and tell everyone that vitamin D is of no help and that your best bet is a pharmaceutical and/or surgery.

  12. Brenda

    I also had severe knee pain. Thought it was arthritis. Had trouble walking. It bothered me at night while sleeping. Tried vitamin d3, glucosamine. On a hunch I crushed one of my armour thyroid pills and spread that out over 3 days with my regular dosage. I continued this for 2 weeks. My knee pain is gone. I am back on my regular thyroid dosage and I am doing fine. Evidently the thyroid dosage occasionally needs some tweaking.

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