In case you haven’t noticed, vitamin D has become the “in” vitamin over the last four or five years. I’m not sure I'd be surprised if a study claimed that takers of a vitamin D supplement sprouted wings and learned to fly. It seems that good. (Full disclosure: I take a vitamin D pill daily.)
But for knee pain, don’t get your hopes up.
This recent study showed that taking vitamin D supplements did not (1) slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis or (2) reduce the associated discomfort. And, for knee pain, those are really the only two things that matter.
146 patients, who were 45 or older and who had symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, participated in the trial. Half received a strong dose of vitamin D (2,000 IU each day); the others got a placebo.
At the end of the two-year study, 61.3 percent of the supplement takers had the desirable level of vitamin D in their blood of 36 ng/ml or higher. That compared with 8.3 percent of those who took the placebo. Yet there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of pain or cartilage loss.
Earlier studies had suggested that higher levels of vitamin D in your blood might somehow play a part in slowing the progression of arthritis. But alas, it appears not to be so.
Now for my take: Pills are easy. Surgery is relatively easy too (you put your faith in someone else to make you whole again). It doesn’t surprise me that the “easy” stuff to fix chronic knee pain usually doesn’t work. That feels right to me, like cosmic karma.
What’s hard is slowly and diligently and patiently rehabbing your knees. It’s not hard like pushing a boulder up a mountain is hard. It’s hard because it requires you to be completely engaged in the process of healing, every day.
Someday, maybe someone will find a magic pill that will allow you to effortlessly banish knee pain. But I wouldn’t count on it.