Ligaments and tendons are important connective tissues in the body. Ligaments link bones to one another, while tendons connect muscles and bones. Ligaments and tendons are both essential for body function. They’re especially important for people who perform regular strenuous physical activities and people who have jobs that require repetitive motions, like lifting or typing. Eating a balanced diet makes sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals to keep your ligaments and tendons healthy. You can also take supplements if you’re concerned about your ligament and tendon health.
Important Vitamins and Minerals
Several vitamins and minerals are related to ligament and tendon health. These vitamins and minerals also impact healing.
- Vitamin A. According to a 2016 study in the American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal, vitamin A can help enhance collagen development. Collagen is important for the formation and function of tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone. Vitamin A can be found in many foods, including carrots, mangoes, squash and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin C. According to a 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin C can increase collagen production to help ligament and tendon function. Vitamin C is most commonly found in citrus fruits. Many foods have both vitamin A and vitamin C. Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach have both, along with other beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin deficiency slows healing of ligaments and tendons. It’s important to get enough vitamin D, especially if you’re physically active or suspect an injury.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for good tissue health. Magnesium and tendon repair have been correlated for many years. Magnesium-deficient diets have been shown to increase degeneration of tendons and other connective tissues.
- Trace minerals, including copper, manganese and zinc. The trace minerals play a role in collagen metabolism. Lack of these trace minerals results in poorer collagen synthesis and can negatively impact ligament and tendon health.
Supplements for Ligament/Tendon Repair
If you’re concerned about the health of your ligaments and tendons and think you’re not consuming the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, you can always take supplements. You may want to take supplements to promote healing if you’ve recently had surgery or an injury. They can also be a good idea for ongoing health problems, which is why some people may opt to take supplements for tendonitis or rotator cuff injuries. Supplements typically have cross-benefits; supplements for joint and tendon health can also be used for ligaments and vice-versa. Some examples of these supplements include:
- Bromelain. An enzyme from the stem of the pineapple, bromelain has wound healing properties. It's been shown to be particularly effective as a supplement for tendon repair.
- Curcumin. Curcumin is an antioxidant that inhibits the formation of new blood vessels. This is beneficial after tendon injuries. Consequently, curcumin can be useful as a supplement for tendon repair.
- Gelatin. A 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that vitamin C- enriched gelatin supplements could be used to increase collagen production and the other beneficial effects of vitamin C.
- Taurine. Taurine is an amino acid with antioxidant properties and is naturally found in protein and milk products. It's been shown to improve tendon strength and promote wound healing.
- Nutrition: Nutritional Research May be Useful in Treating Tendon Injuries
- Muscle, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal: Nutraceutical Supplement in the Management of Tendinopathies: A Systematic Review
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Vitamin C–Enriched Gelatin Supplementation Before Intermittent Activity Augments Collagen Synthesis
- American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal: Whole Foods Nutrition for Enhanced Injury Prevention and Healing
- Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica: Role of a Combination Dietary Supplement Containing Mucopolysaccharides, Vitamin C and Collagen on Tendon Healing in Rats