Besides exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, a nutritious diet ranks right at the top of the ways to keep your joints moving well and bones strong. Everyone has an increased chance of developing joint pain as they grow older, but eating right can be a key to keeping the body in tip top shape. We will highlight some of the most important nutrients you need in your diet.
Calcium is critically important for bone development and maintaining bone strength. Not having adequate calcium intake can up your risk factor for developing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. An easy way to get enough calcium is through dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Even almond or soy milk has calcium if you have trouble digesting dairy. Other foods high in calcium are spinach, kale, soybeans and foods that have been fortified with calcium such as some cereals or orange juice. The average adult should get 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day.
Vitamin D and calcium work together for bone health, so if you are ingesting calcium, you need vitamin D as well. Foods with vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and vitamin D fortified foods like cereals or orange juice. Many of the foods fortified with vitamin D will also contain added calcium. Adults under 70 years of age need around 600 IU vitamin D per day, and those over 70 need 800 IU.
Vitamin C is an nutrient recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation as a building block of healthy bones. We always think of citrus foods as being high in vitamin C, which is true, but it can also be found in bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, papaya and pineapple.
According to a study published in the National Institute of Health, selenium is a powerful antioxidant that is great for bone health and reducing inflammation. Eating brazil nuts, eggs, liver, cod, tuna and sunflower seeds can give you an extra boost of selenium. Whole foods are the best way to get selenium because it can be destroyed by processing and heating foods. The recommended daily amount of selenium is about 55 mcg.
Eat your leafy greens because they are high in vitamin K. According to WebMD, vitamin K can strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Women should get about 90 mcg per day, and men 120 mcg.
This is not a complete list of vitamins and nutrients that are good for bone and joint health. Health magazine also mentions some great foods for joint health like extra virgin olive oil, cherry juice, and foods like tuna or salmon that contain omega-3s. The main takeaway is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins to help maintain strong bones and pain-free joints.