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  • Rebecca Washuta

Key Nutrients for Reducing Inflammation and Improving Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Updated: Apr 13, 2023


Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common autoimmune conditions, and affects more than 30 million people in the US. It's twice as common in women than men, and unlike osteoarthritis (which results from the wearing away of cartilage over time) rheumatoid arthritis can start in patients as young as 16 years old.


Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is a progressive condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints; resulting in inflammation, pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased movement of the joints. Chronic inflammation can damage cartilage and even the bones themselves, causing the joints to become unstable, painful, and lose their mobility. Although the body has many joints, rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the hands, elbows, knees, and feet.


While many immune cells are involved in rheumatoid arthritis, macrophages are thought to play the largest role. Once macrophages enter the synovial membrane, they can activate T-cells and produce cytokines like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a)8. TNF-a is overproduced in joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and triggers a cascading effect, perpetuating chronic inflammation.


In addition to medication, diet and lifestyle changes can help patients manage RA and other autoimmune conditions. Below are key nutrients that can help reduce inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:


  • Vitamin D Many studies indicate that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Research indicates that low serum vitamin D levels are more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, it's been shown that patients with the lowest vitamin D levels experience the most severe symptoms. Ideally, you want your vitamin D levels to be 50nmol/l or higher. I recommend my clients start with a 2,000IU vitamin D supplement daily, and have their blood checked every 4-6 weeks until they reach the optimal range.

  • Omega 3s Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoinflammatory condition so we want to do everything we can to reduce inflammation. One of the best ways to do this is to increase the amount of Omega 3's in your diet. You can do this by adding more wild caught fish (salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, whitefish, etc.), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts to your diet. Additionally I recommend a high quality Omega 3 supplement be taken daily.

  • Turmeric Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects so it's a great spice to add to your dishes. Additionally high quality turmeric supplements can help manage inflammation.

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