Vitamin Deficiency and Psoriatic Arthritis
Like me, you might be inclined to scoff a bit at the idea of a relationship between vitamin deficiency and psoriatic arthritis. You might believe that you have more difficult health challenges to tackle. You might have been told before your diagnosis that your fatigue was a “simple” vitamin D deficiency.
Before you write me off (see what I did there?), stick with me for a bit and you might just feel a little differently.
Understanding the impact of vitamins
More years ago than I’d like to admit, I was taking one of those generic health classes in college. The class was one of those basic undergrad health class requirements and I was a young, impressionable twenty-something. I sat in that class while my professor prattled on and on about how he believed the whole vitamin industry was a “scam.”
As a result, the ridiculously trusting student that I was, took his opinions as fact and the only time I bothered to take vitamins was each time I was pregnant.
Connecting to chronic illness
To this day, vitamins remain a somewhat controversial topic among both doctors and patients. My professor and many others argue that “the average American diet” has all the vitamins we need in it.
For many people, that could very likely be true. But what he failed to mention, or perhaps what I failed to remember, is for people with chronic illnesses, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Vitamin deficiency can be a big deal
The truth of the matter is that vitamins, or more importantly, vitamin deficiency can be a very big deal. If we don’t pay attention to some key vitamins, in particular, then we could be subjecting ourselves to more pain, fatigue, or worse.
Those of us with psoriatic arthritis and other autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are more likely to be deficient in vitamins than the average person.1
The decision to check vitamin levels
I was struggling daily with ever-increasing fatigue and difficulty concentrating on even the simplest tasks. My symptoms didn’t feel exactly like they were flare-related. I thought perhaps maybe stress.
I was really hoping my symptoms weren’t a sign my biologic wasn’t working anymore. So before jumping ship on my biologic (which took forever to find) my doctor suggested we check my vitamin levels, especially since I was due a blood draw anyway.
A night and day difference
Suffice to say, a week later I found myself back at my doctor’s office to receive a vitamin B injection as well as prescription-strength vitamin D and folic acid. Fast forward 24 hours and wowzers, it was a night and day difference.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think I’d gotten a steroid shot instead. Topping off my vitamins had a similar effect (for me) as receiving a steroid shot, without all the drawbacks and complications that come with steroids.
The connection between vitamin levels and psoriatic arthritis
However, a few weeks after the injection, I noticed that the same symptoms reappeared. According to my doctor, it was too soon for another vitamin B injection, so I started supplementing with the standard over-the-counter B-12. At my next appointment, vitamin B was checked again and despite taking the additional supplements, it was still low.
The exact cause and correlation between low vitamin levels and psoriatic arthritis are yet to be discovered. The high incidence rate and my proven history are enough to convince me that it is worth the extra effort to keep my levels where they need to be.
Increase in energy and cognitive functioning
With all the other medications that we take to manage our disease, I know keeping tabs on our vitamin levels can feel like just one more thing we need to do. Vitamins actually play a huge role in helping our bodies create and use energy and increase our cognitive functioning.
If we are deficient or our bodies can’t process those vitamins then getting those levels checked routinely, might just make a difference in your daily fatigue levels.
The autoimmune benefit
Keeping tabs on our vitamin levels also might uncover other “hidden” illnesses. Routinely getting your vitamin levels checked can provide insight into other health conditions as well. For example, upon further investigation, my issues with consistently dwindling vitamin B and iron uncovered yet another delightful autoimmune illness called pernicious anemia.
While pretty easily treatable, and fairly rare, pernicious anemia is also an autoimmune condition. And as many of us know, once you have one you are much more likely to develop another.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?