Eating a healthy and varied diet is recommended to help keep your joints healthy and strong. An inadequate intake of certain nutrients, including calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and vitamin C, may impair joint health and lead to weakness. Consult your doctor if you're concerned about your joints.
Calcium for Bones and Joints
Not getting enough calcium in your diet can affect bone health and lead to osteoporosis. Poor bone health and strength may have an impact on joint strength. Many Americans have a difficult time meeting their calcium needs, including children, teen girls and older men and women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. For overall health, especially bone health, you need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Dairy foods, fortified plant milk, tofu, sardines with bones and turnip greens all make good choices to get more calcium in your diet to promote joint health and strength.
Vitamin D is also important for bone health, and not getting enough in your diet can lead to a condition called osteomalacia, which is an inadequate mineralization of your bones. Symptoms of osteomalacia include joint pain and tenderness and muscle weakness. Fortified milk, along with eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, egg yolks, and fortified breakfast cereals are all good sources of vitamin D. Your body also makes vitamin D through sun exposure. However, too much sun exposure can be dangerous, and this may not be the best way for you to meet your needs. Consult your doctor to discuss the safest way for you to get vitamin D.
A deficiency in vitamin B-12 can cause a number of health problems, including joint pain and weakness, as well as imbalance. You need vitamin B-12 to make red blood cells, nerves and DNA. The two most common causes of vitamin B-12 deficiency include a vegetarian diet and weight-loss surgery, according to Harvard Health Publications. That's because animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B-12 and certain digestive conditions, such as acidity in the stomach, are necessary for absorption. You need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 a day. In addition to animal foods, you can also get more vitamin B-12 by including fortified plant milk or cereal. Consult your doctor if you think you need to take a supplement.
Cartilage is a component of joints that helps the bones slide over each other without causing pain. Vitamin C is essential for the health and maintenance of cartilage. Although a deficiency in vitamin C is rare, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, severe deficiency can lead to a condition called scurvy, which can lead to general weakness. To get your vitamin C for healthy joints, include oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, broccoli, leafy greens and tomatoes in your diet.
- National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskelatal and Skin Diseases: Healthy Joints Matter
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- Harvard Health Publications: Vitamin B-12 Deficiency, Sneaky and Harmful
- Patient: Vitamin D Deficiency Including Osteomalacia and Rickets
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- MedlinePlus: Scurvy