What Vitamins Are Good for Stiff Joints?

A Caucasian female hand holding a vitamin next to a glass of water
Some vitamins may help treat inflammation associated with stiff joints. (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Whether the result of an exercise-related injury or because of an underlying medical condition such as arthritis, stiff joints can be difficult to tolerate and live with. Because the space between joints is so compact, even a tiny bit of inflammation can have an outsized effect on mobility. Joint stiffness may be reduced over time as the injury heals and the inflammation subsides, although this may not always be the case, particularly in instances of arthritis. Some vitamins can help with reducing stiffness in joints, although chronically stiff joints and severe cases of swelling should be treated by a medical professional rather than through self-care.

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A has a variety of important functions in the body. It aids in cell reproduction, is vital for healthy vision and helps maintain mucous membranes, not to mention helping produce scar tissue. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, protecting the body's cells from environmental toxins and free radicals. A study in the "Proceedings of the Nutrition Society" argued that vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties. This conclusion was supported by vitamin A’s ability to reduce skin inflammation, as it is commonly used as an acne treatment. But the efficacy of vitamin A for more intense joint pain still requires further study. In the form of retinol, vitamin A is found in meat, eggs, poultry and milk products. As a beta-carotene, it is found in abundance in bright orange- and yellow-colored vegetables such as pumpkins and carrots.

Vitamin B-5

Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B-5, a member of the B-vitamin complex, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. In a small study, vitamin B-5 dosage was shown to alleviate some of the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, although this correlation requires further study. Like all B vitamins, vitamin B-5 helps create healthy tissues, including skin, hair and eyes. Whole grains, egg yolks, sweet potatoes and poultry are all excellent sources of vitamin B-5.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant, like vitamin A, and it also defends your cells from local toxins and free radicals. When paired with vitamin B-5, it has been shown to help speed up the healing process for wounds. Vitamin C is vital for collagen production, which is a basic component to cartilage. When cartilage becomes destroyed or worn down, it creates pressure on your joints and bones, creating inflammation and pain. Current studies show that people with diets high in vitamin C are less likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, although vitamin C is not known to treat or prevent this disease. Vitamin C is found in large quantities in all citrus fruits, as well as kiwis.

Glucosamine Benefits

Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is found in abundance in joint fluid. Glucosamine can be found naturally in shellfish shells, or it can be chemically synthesized. The National Institute of Health rates glucosamine as likely effective for treating osteoarthritis. In addition to possibly relieving joint pain associated with osteoarthritis, glucosamine sulfate may also help prevent or slow down the progress of osteoarthritis damage in the joints. Glucosamine’s benefits are not consistent, however, and some people may experience no relief or benefit at all.

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