Objective: To determine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of vitamin C and D intake with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of cartilage composition (T2) and joint structure (cartilage, meniscus, and bone marrow) using data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) cohort. Methods: A total of 1,785 subjects with radiographic Kellgren/Lawrence knee grades 0–3 in the right knee were selected from the OAI database. Vitamins C and vitamin D intake (diet, supplements, and total) were assessed using the Block Brief 2000 Food Frequency Questionnaire at baseline. The MRI analysis protocol included 3T cartilage T2 quantification and semiquantitative joint morphology gradings (Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score [WORMS]) at baseline and 4 years. Linear regression was used to assess the association between standardized baseline vitamin intake and both baseline WORMS scores and standardized cartilage T2 values. Results: Higher vitamin C intake was associated with lower average cartilage T2 values, medial tibia T2 values, and medial tibia WORMS scores (standardized coefficient range –0.07 to –0.05, P < 0.05). Higher vitamin D intake was associated with a lower cartilage WORMS sum score and medial femur WORMS score (standardized coefficient range –0.24 to –0.09, P < 0.05). Consistent use of vitamin D supplements of 400 IU at least once a week over 4 years was associated with significantly less worsening of cartilage, meniscus, and bone marrow abnormalities (odds ratio range 0.40–0.56, P < 0.05). Conclusion: Supplementation with vitamin D over 4 years was associated with significantly less progression of knee joint abnormalities. Given the observational nature of this study, future longitudinal randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation are warranted.
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