Soak Up Some Sun to Lower Your Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a wicked chronic condition. However, recent studies indicate that you can lower your risk of rheumatoid arthritis with a newly discovered treatment that you can get right in your own back yard – sunlight! Here's how the natural power of the sun can help your body ward off rheumatoid arthritis.
Sunlight & Vitamin D
When sunlight hits your skin, not only does it give us that warm, comforting glow, but it starts a chain reaction in your body that produces vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining a healthy body.
Vitamin D does a number of things for you, including making your bones stronger. Without vitamin D, your bones can't absorb calcium, which bones need to be healthy and strong. Vitamin D also keeps your immune system running efficiently, keeps nerves functioning, and helps aid muscle movement.
Clearly, vitamin D is very important and luckily we get vitamin D every time we step out into the sunshine. Your body uses UV-B rays to produce all natural vitamin D! You can also get vitamin D from a healthy diet or from supplements.
However, too much vitamin D can be harmful, so talk to your doctor and have your vitamin D levels tested before beginning a supplement regimen.
How does it help?
Vitamin D has been shown to help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways. Vitamin D helps to preserve the cartilage in your joints – especially in your knees.
Also, vitamin D helps ensure your muscles are working properly. When your muscles function as they should, your joints don't have to work as hard. Having strong muscles surrounding your joints can relieve pain caused by arthritis.
Of course, it's best to never develop rheumatoid arthritis at all. Getting enough vitamin D can actually prevent you from developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Who does it help?
In a recent study published in the scholarly journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers found that women who had high levels of UV-B exposure "were 21 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis."
The women in the study were between the ages of 30 and 55. In a second phase of the study, younger women did not appear to experience the benefit of UV-B exposure in preventing rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers believe this is because the younger women were more conscious of their sun exposure and took measures to limit their time in the sun or to wear UV-protective sunscreen.
So this doesn't mean that only older women benefit from sun exposure. What this means is that getting enough UV-B exposure is believed to significantly help reduce the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. At this point, the study data are only suggestive of a link between UV-B exposure, vitamin D, and rheumatoid arthritis prevention. More research is needed to definitively say whether UV-B exposure and vitamin D actually cause a decrease in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
While the evidence is strong that getting enough sunlight is beneficial to your health, UV rays can also damage your skin. So it's important to find a healthy balance. Talk to your doctor about the best way to get enough vitamin D to prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
By getting enough sunlight during the day, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis. So hop on out the door and drink in that warm, free treatment!
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