Cartilage allows you to move about your day smoothly. If your cartilage is strong and healthy, you probably don’t think about it much–and that’s great! On the other hand, if you have joints where cartilage is thin, torn, or degenerative, you can attest to how your movements are hindered by the twinges, creaks, and pops.
Regardless of your current joint status, our cartilage has the tendency to wear down as we age. The good news is that there are ways to maintain and stimulate cartilage health!
Today, we are covering a specific area of nutrition that you can consider for your daily routine and meals that can help “grease” those joints: vitamins.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin your body needs for the growth and repair of tissues throughout your body, and it’s especially crucial for the repair and maintenance of cartilage. The way vitamin C promotes cartilage health is by helping the body produce collagen. Not only is vitamin C necessary for cartilage repair and development, but a vitamin C deficiency could result in weakened cartilage.
One recent study done at the Australian Institute of Sport involved giving young men a gelatin supplement that had been enhanced with vitamin C, and the supplement increased the levels of markers and amino acids linked to collagen synthesis. This suggests that vitamin C could be beneficial in injury prevention and tissue repair.
Getting more vitamin C may be as easy as filling up your shopping cart with fresh fruits and veggies. Examples of foods rich in Vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits
- Tropical fruits like pineapple and papaya
- Bell peppers
- Cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that works in the body as an antioxidant, protecting cells from the damage of free radicals. Vitamin E also boosts the immune system and is used by cells to carry out many essential bodily functions.
One study published in the Journal of Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease concluded that vitamin E supplementation did protect cartilage against oxidative stress, although the anti-inflammatory role of the vitamin needs further research.
Another study published in the Iowa Orthopedic Journal found that antioxidants, including vitamin E, protected cartilage cells from dying when overloaded with cyclic pressure, which could be caused by walking or jogging in an overweight patient.
Although further research on the efficacy of vitamin E for cartilage health needs to be done, getting more vitamin E in your diet is still worthwhile for other health benefits.
Vitamin E is found naturally in…
- Green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach
- Vegetable oils
- Fortified in fruit juices and breakfast cereals
Vitamin A is actually a group of fat-soluble retinoids, as opposed to one vitamin. According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin A is involved in cellular communication, reproduction, immune function, and vision.
Incorporate some vitamin A into your daily meals. Here are some examples:
- Marine oils
- Yellow and orange vegetables
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fortified cereals
Vitamin K is a nutrient that’s important for healthy bones, blood clotting, and other bodily functions, and this fat-soluble nutrient plays an essential role in cartilage metabolism, promoting cartilage cell survival and proliferation.
Help support your cartilage health and reduce the risk of joint problems by adding these vitamin K-rich foods:
- Green leafy vegetables
Cartilage plays a huge role in the health of your joints and certain vitamins have been linked to cartilage regeneration, protection, and overall health. By getting Vitamins C, E, A and K into your diet you’ll be on your way in supporting your cartilage health, reducing joint discomfort, and lowering your risk of future joint problems.
Of course, you’ll want to check in with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, especially when including new supplements.
Interested in other kinds of nutrients that support and maintain bone and joint health? Subscribe to our blog to the right (or below if you’re on your phone)!