Vitamin D is also key in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis. Without enough vitamin D, your body can't use the calcium from your diet.
Among people who have RA, those with low vitamin D levels tend to have more active RA symptoms.
Low vitamin D may also play a role in developing rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that women who get more vitamin D seem less likely to get RA. However, vitamin D isn't proven to prevent or treat RA.
Some milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Natural sources include egg yolks, salmon, tuna, and sardines. Your body also makes vitamin D when it's exposed to sunlight.
The general recommendations for vitamin D are 600 international units (IU) per day for adults under 70 and 800 to 1000 IU for people 70 and older. Ask your doctor about how much you should get a day and the best way to get it. Higher doses may be needed to correct a deficiency.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat. Your body cannot make them, so you have to get them from food or supplements.
Studies suggest that people with RA have lower-than-average levels of EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.
Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that they can ease RA symptoms like morning stiffness, but you might need high-doses of fish oil for that. EPA and DHA may also lower the risk of heart problems linked to RA. Talk to your doctor about how much omega-3 fatty acids you should be getting.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Researchers have studied whether not getting enough vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and selenium can affect RA symptoms. So far, there's no clear evidence that getting more of any of these nutrients helps RA.
Your best bet is to get your nutrients from foods. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat is key.
If you're falling short on nutrients or you can't absorb nutrients from foods, ask your doctor if you need supplements, too.