Vitamins and Minerals
Most of the vitamins and minerals your body needs come through the food you eat but sometimes a supplement is necessary to top up those important vitamins key in helping to protect your joints. If you have a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals you may see your arthritis progress more quickly and the key vitamins and minerals relevant to arthritis are iron, vitamin D and calcium.
Calcium helps your bones stay healthy and a lack of calcium in the body can lead to the development of osteoporosis. This condition is particularly common on post-menopausal women and also people who have taken steroids for a long period. A lack of calcium is not good for the health of your bones in general and it is recommended you have an intake of around 1000 mg of calcium a day with additional vitamin D if you are over 60 and if you don’t eat dairy of many calcium-enriched foods such as tinned boned fish (sardines for example), then you may need to consider a supplement.
Iron is the key nutrient your body needs to avoid anaemia which often comes hand in hand with a diagnosis of arthritis. Anaemia is often a side-effect of taking NSAIDs and it can also be classified as anaemia of chronic disease if it is diagnosed alongside rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately in the second instance supplements don’t tend to help but in other instances you can increase your iron intake through particular food types including red meat, pulses such as lentils, oily fish and dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale. Iron is most effective when it is taken with vitamin C so orange juice or fruit and vegetables are always recommended alongside an iron-rich meal.
To process the calcium which keeps your bones healthy your body needs Vitamin D. It doesn’t occur naturally in many foods, aside from oily fish. The best way to increase your vitamin D levels is to enjoy a walk in the sunshine as exposing your body to sunlight helps your body to produce vitamin D. Just 15 minutes a day with your arms and face exposed to sunlight through July and August can be enough to help the development of vitamin D. Winter is a little harder as there is less sunshine and there is some research which suggests arthritis can progress more quickly in people who don’t have enough vitamin D so it is worth discussing a supplement with your doctor for the winter months.
Low vitamin C intake has a link with arthritis but to increase your vitamin C levels you just need to ensure you are eating at least your five-a-day fruit and vegetables and a supplement shouldn’t be necessary. Another mineral which is linked with arthritis is selenium as a deficiency is believed to effect the condition progressing more quickly. The best way to add selenium to your diet naturally is though eating Brazil nuts and it is one of those key minerals you’ll always find in an antioxidant supplement. Selenium is still being researched and there are studies which have found high levels may be harmful and so doses should be kept no higher than the recommended daily intake.
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