Vitamin D and calcium for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) increases your child's risk of osteoporosis in two ways. Pain and swelling can cause your child to be less active, which leads to loss of bone mass. In addition, long-term corticosteroid treatment for JRA depletes bone mass.

To minimize osteoporosis during treatment, experts recommend adequate daily intake of vitamin D (400 IU) and calcium:1

  • 500 mg for children 1 to 3 years old
  • 800 mg for children 4 to 8 years old
  • 1,300 mg for people age 9 and older

Foods high in calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt; calcium-fortified orange juice; and broccoli. Vitamin D is found in dairy products. Being out in sunlight for at least 15 minutes each day without sunscreen will also help with vitamin D intake; your body makes vitamin D when it's exposed to sunlight.

Food-based sources of vitamins and minerals are better than dietary supplements, which are not as fully absorbed by the body. If your child has little appetite for food, however, your doctor may recommend dietary supplements.

Citations

  1. Giannini EH, Brunner HI (2005). Treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions, 15th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1301–1318. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: June 25, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

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