Ligaments and tendons are important connective tissues found throughout the human body. Ligaments link bones to each another, while tendons connect bones to muscles. Eating a balanced diet filled with vitamins and minerals can help you keep your ligaments and tendons healthy. This is especially important if you have an active job or play a lot of sports.
Ligament and Tendon Health
Connective tissues like ligaments and tendons are made up of proteins, fibers and other molecules. Ligament and tendon injuries can be fairly common. If you’re a fan of sports, you may have seen someone tear an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) while watching football. You’ve almost certainly heard of tendonitis — a common tendon issue that can occur from any repetitive motion, like typing. Being conscious of your ligament and tendon health is important; once damaged, they heal slowly. Fortunately, keeping a balanced diet can help strengthen your tendons and ligaments. These connective tissues are similar to cartilage and joints, so good nutrition for tendons and ligaments will help your cartilage and joints too.
Vitamins for Tendons and Ligaments
- Vitamin A, which promotes collagen development. Collagen is extremely important for ligament and tendon health and function. Collagen development also helps the formation and function of cartilage and bone.
- Vitamin D — important for ligament and tendon health. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D and you’ve suffered an injury, you may experience slower healing of your ligaments and tendons.
Nutrition for Tendons and Ligaments
It's important to know which foods have the vitamins and minerals that can help promote good ligament and tendon health. Consider adding these to your diet:
- Vitamin A can be found in many foods, including carrots, kale, mangoes, prunes, squash and sweet potatoes.
- B-complex vitamins are found in animal products, like meat and fish. They can also be found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including avocado, legumes and spinach. Foods such as cereals and nondairy milk products are also often fortified with vitamin B.
- Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits, like lemons, limes and grapefruit. Other sources are broccoli, kiwi, peppers and potatoes.
- Protein is important for ligament and tendon health. You can find it in many animal products, including dairy, fish and meat. Protein can also be found in eggs, legumes, nuts and whey.
- Zinc can be found in animal products, such as dairy, fish and meat. It can also be found in whole-grain products, legumes and nuts.
Many foods contain multiple beneficial vitamins and minerals for ligament and tendon health. For instance, most sources of protein will also contain zinc. Leafy green vegetables are another good example. Kale and spinach have vitamins A, C, E and various B-complex vitamins. Keeping a healthy, balanced diet should easily keep your ligaments and tendons healthy too.
- Livestrong.com: Vitamins for Ligament Repair
- Livestrong.com: Vitamins for Ligaments & Tendons
- Livestrong.com: The Best Supplements for a Torn Ligament
- Livestrong.com: Will Certain Foods Help Heal Ligaments and Tendons?
- Livestrong.com: All About Ligament Tear
- Livestrong.com: Nutritional Deficiencies Causing Joint Weakness
- Huffington Post: Best Foods for Vitamin B
- EFORT Open Reviews: Tendon Injuries
- ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: Whole Foods Nutrition for Enhanced Injury Prevention and Healing
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Vitamin C–enriched Gelatin Supplementation Before Intermittent Activity Augments Collagen Synthesis
- Nutrition: Nutritional Research May Be Useful in Treating Tendon Injuries