For patients with knee osteoarthritis, supplementation with vitamin D does not slow cartilage loss or alleviate knee pain. Those are the findings from a new study published in JAMA, which tested the efficacy of a monthly oral vitamin D3 (50,000 IU) when compared to a placebo.

Three-hundred and forty patients with low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and knee osteoarthritis were enrolled in the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Tasmania, Australia, and lasted for 2 years. Half of the patients were administered the vitamin D3 supplement and the other half the placebo. The average age of participants was 63-years old.

RELATED: Study Reveals Underlying Mechanisms of Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis

At the end of the 2 years, results showed the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D increased more in the vitamin group than in the placebo group (40.6nmol/L vs. 6.7nmol/L). However, no significant differences in annual change of tibial cartilage volume was recorded (−3.4% in the vitamin D group vs −4.2% in the placebo group) or in WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) pain score (−49.9 in the vitamin D group vs −35.1 in the placebo group). 

Although observational studies suggest vitamin D supplementation may benefit patients with knee osteoarthritis, the authors of this study conclude that “these findings do not support the use of vitamin D supplementation for preventing tibial cartilage loss or improving WOMAC knee pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.” osteoarthritis occurs in roughly 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60-years old, no disease-modifying therapies for osteoarthritis currently exist.

For more information visit