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Sunshine Decreases Risk of Arthritis

Vitamin D plays an important role in senior health, and sunlight has long been recognized as one of the best sources of the vital nutrient. A new study only strengthens the relationship between vitamin D and well-being, as researchers discovered that spending time in the sun may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The study, which was published recently in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, was led by researchers from Harvard Medical School. Drawing on data from more than 200,000 women, the team found that people who lived in the sunnier parts of the United States had around a 21 percent lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis than those who got the least amount of sunlight. While more research needs to be conducted, the results highlight the importance of getting outside during nice weather.

“Until we know more, the best thing that people can do is to go out in the sunshine for up to 15 minutes in the summer months and expose their face and arms to the sun to top up their vitamin D levels,” professor Alan Silman, the medical director of Arthritis Research U.K., told BBC News.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which differs from the more common osteoarthritis, affects around 2 million Americans. An autoimmune disease, the condition impacts the lining of joints, resulting in swelling and bone erosion.

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