The Best Vitamins for Cartilage Repair

The best vitamins for cartilage repair can help improve your joint health and function. The vitamins need to be included as part of a well-balanced diet to help your body mend itself properly, according to the University of Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Since the remedies are natural-based, it takes time to see results. Check with your doctor before starting a new vitamin regime.

Close up of a hand with a vitamin and a glass of water. (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy tissue throughout your body, according to the National Institutes of Health. This nutrient acts as an antioxidant in your body, fighting free radicals that can damage your body's cells. Vitamin A comes in supplement form, as either an a la carte nutrient or part of a multivitamin formula. Powdered vitamin A can be sprinkled into your beverage. Help your cartilage repair by consuming a variety of foods that contain vitamin A. Animal sources include halibut or cod fish oil, organ meats such as liver and kidneys, and dairy products. Cheese, milk, cream and eggs supply rich amounts of vitamin A, according to the National Institutes of Health. Plant-based sources of this vitamin include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as sweet peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli, apricots, sweet potatoes, pink grapefruit, carrots, pumpkin and leafy greens. Incorporate several of these foods into your diet to reach the 2,333 international units for women and 3,000 IU for men recommended each day, but don't exceed 10,000 IU.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C performs a variety of functions in your body. It plays a major role in repairing and growing tissues in your body. It helps form collagen, a protein needed for making tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Plus, vitamin C is essential for repairing cartilage, according to the National Institutes of Health. As a water-soluble vitamin, your body does not store this nutrient. You need to replenish the vitamin daily through your diet or supplements. Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables. The richest amounts of this cartilage-repairing nutrient will be found in citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, mango, pineapple and berries. Berries include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries. Vitamin C-rich vegetables include sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, green and red peppers, winter squash, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and leafy greens. Leafy greens include collards, Swiss chard, red leaf lettuce, endive, turnip greens, dandelion greens and mustard greens. You should consume 75 or 90 milligrams of vitamin C -- the recommended daily intake for women and men, respectively -- but not more than 2,000 milligrams daily.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps build cartilage and strong bones. Your body stores vitamin D in your fatty tissues. This means you do not have to replenish the nutrient on a daily basis. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health. Lack of this nutrient can cause osteoarthritis. Vitamin D comes in supplement form, either as part of a multivitamin or by itself. Getting minimal amounts of sun will stimulate vitamin D production in your body. Eating foods rich in the nutrient offers another option. Rich dietary sources of this vitamin include fish, oysters, margarine and fortified foods. Fortified foods include cereals and milk. Dairy foods such as cheese, butter and cream also contain rich amounts of this needed vitamin. Your body needs 6,00 IU of vitamin D daily, but, due to the risk of toxicities, you should not consume more than 4,000 IU each day.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K also aids in cartilage repair. It activates matrix Gla protein, or MGP, a protein essential for new cartilage growth. It also controls bone mineralization, and supports the development of new bone tissue. Leafy greens -- including chard, watercress, parsley, and kale -- all contain vitamin K, as do olive and canola oils. Combine these foods to reach the 125 micrograms recommended daily for men, or 90 micrograms for women.

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