Rheumatoid arthritis patients who consume more dietary vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in the year before starting disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may experience improved treatment results, according to a study published in Rheumatology.

In order to evaluate the association between dietary vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and treatment outcomes with DMARDs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the researchers used data from the EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis) study which included 727 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis from hospitals in Sweden. 

Using food frequency questionnaires, the researchers analyzed data on dietary vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate consumption and associated it with data on EULAR response after three months of DMARD therapy. The associations were also adjusted for potential confounders. 

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Most of the patients (89.9%) were treated with methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy and over half (56.9%) with glucocorticoids. Results showed vitamin D (odds ratio [OR] 1.80, 95% CI: 1.14–2.83) and omega-3 fatty acids (OR 1.60, 95% CI: 1.02–2.53) were associated with a positive EULAR response. Folate intake, however, was not significantly associated with EULAR response (OR 1.20, 95% CI: 0.75–1.91). 

“Similar results were seen in a subgroup of patients who were initially treated with MTX monotherapy at baseline,” the authors noted. 

Given the outcome of this study, it would appear that greater consumption of dietary vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids during the year leading up to DMARD start may lead to better treatment results in patients with early RA. “Our results suggest that some nutrients may be associated with enhanced treatment results of DMARDs,” concluded Cecilia Lourdudoss, from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

For more information visit bmjopen.bmj.com.