As collagen and glucosamine supplements gain popularity, many of us are discovering that we don’t have to live in pain due to weak bones and creaky joints. Although certain supplements can help with bone and joint health, the key to maintaining your body’s strength begins in the kitchen. A well-balanced diet rich in key nutrients is the first step toward pain-free cycling and bone and joint health.
What nutrients are essential for bone and joint health?
More than a glass of milk is required to protect your bones and joints from the normal wear and tear of ageing. Getting the recommended daily amount of the following nutrients can help protect your joints in the long run.
Calcium: “This mineral has many functions in the body, but it is necessary for strong bones,” says Anthony Kouri, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center. “It’s not a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body; it must be obtained through food,” he adds. Adults require 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.
Vitamin D: “It’s required for calcium absorption, and people who don’t get enough of it can have very soft bones and even develop limb deformities,” says Kouri. The daily vitamin D recommendation is 600 IU (international units).
Collagen: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is found in animal connective tissue. It’s found in skin, muscles, bones, and tendons, and it’s a nutrient being researched for joint health and arthritis pain relief. There is no daily collagen recommendation, but meat eaters get plenty on a daily basis.
Vitamin C: This anti-inflammatory nutrient promotes collagen synthesis. “In addition, vitamin C stimulates bone-building cells and improves vitamin D’s ability to absorb calcium,” says Kouri. Vitamin C dosages range from 75 to 120 milligrams depending on gender and pregnancy status.
Omega-3s: This beneficial fatty acid has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Running is a common cause of acute inflammation, so eating enough omega-3s can help protect the joints. There is no set amount of omega-3s you should consume per day, but the National Institute of Health recommends 1.1 grammes of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid—an essential fatty acid your body cannot produce on its own) for women and 1.6 grammes of ALA for men.
Magnesium: About 60% of total magnesium is stored in the bones, and a lack of magnesium can lead to osteoporosis. It also aids in the activation of vitamin D.
Vitamin K: According to Kouri, this nutrient acts as a shuttle for calcium to reach the bone. Men require 120 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K per day, while women require 90 mcg.
Fortunately, these nutrients are not difficult to obtain. To reap the benefits, incorporate these 5 foods into your weekly diet.
This vibrant yellow, peppery spice contains curcumin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been studied for its potential to improve joint health, and research suggests that it may alleviate arthritis symptoms. Turmeric can be added to a variety of foods, including scrambled eggs, lattes, and roasted vegetables.
“These purple gems contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K,” says Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., a New York City-based dietitian and Sunsweet nutrition partner. “Osteoporosis International research shows that eating five to six prunes daily may help prevent bone loss,” Gorin adds. Although dried prunes may not be on your regular menu, try them as a snack or to sweeten baked goods.
Don’t consume dairy? That’s fine because a 12-cup serving of tofu contains slightly less than half of your daily calcium requirements. In addition, research suggests that eating soy may help with joint pain. Tofu is simple to prepare and absorbs the flavour of any sauce or marinade.
These dark, sweet berries are packed with two beneficial nutrients—polyphenols and vitamin C. First, research suggests the polyphenols in blueberries may reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis. And a serving (a handful or a cup) of blueberries provides 16 percent of your daily vitamin C, which is needed for collagen production.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in magnesium and potassium, two essential nutrients for bone health. According to Elizabeth Ann Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., author of Fertility Foods Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Nourish Your Body, “magnesium activates vitamin D, so low levels can affect bone health.” “In addition, potassium helps neutralise acids in the body that cause calcium to escape from bones,” Shaw adds.