Foods or vitamins that help with joint pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Information and advice from the Arthritis Foundation and Arthritis Today


Vitamin C-which is abundant in strawberries, blueberries and raspberries-may help slow wear and tear on your joints. A study from Boston University Medical Center showed that arthritis sufferers who had the highest vitamin C intake were three times less likely to strain or injure their joints than those whose intake was lowest. The vitamin's antioxidant activity may keep free radicals from causing damage. Plus, vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a key component of cartilage and bone. Besides citrus fruits, other C-rich foods include cantaloupe and broccoli.

Studies show that moderate amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can help ease some of the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.

•B vitamins Several B vitamins may help reduce joint inflammation and pain. Foods enriched in vitamin B-3 (niacin) include lean meats and fish, tofu, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds; vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) is found in meat, eggs, soybeans, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, lentils and peanuts contain; and vitamin B-6 is found in meat, fish, whole grains, wheat germ, whole wheat, bananas and soybeans.
•vitamin C Some studies have suggested that vitamin C may reduce the risk and progression of osteoarthritis. Foods high in vitamin C include broccoli, red peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and strawberries.
•vitamin D Osteoporosis may progress faster in women with low levels of vitamin D, because the vitamin helps calcium to protect bones and joint s. Foods high in vitamin D include fortified dairy products and fish such as salmon, halibut, sea bass, tuna, cod and herring.
•vitamin E This vitamin, according to some sources, helps ease osteoarthritis pain and leg cramps. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower and safflower seeds, wheat germ and whole wheat flour, and various fruits and vegetables.


Evidence suggests that fish may be helpful in both rheumatoid arthritis as well as osteoarthritis. Fish, especially cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, tuna, sardines, and cod, have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fats are used by the body to make substances that reduce inflammation.


Ginger contains active components that stop the body from producing inflammatory substances that add to inflammation in the joints.

Nutrients in Food That May Help Include:

Vitamin D

When osteoarthritis patients get plenty of vitamin D in their diets, their joint damage progresses more slowly. In contrast, people who don’t get enough vitamin D, have more rapidly occurring joint damage.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant in the body. By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and damage that occurs in osteoarthritis.

Excellent food sources of vitamin C include broccoli, parsley, bell peppers, strawberries, cauliflower, lemons, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, papaya, kale, cabbage, spinach, kiwifruit, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, chard, collard greens, raspberries, peppermint leaves, asparagus, celery, fennel bulb, pineapple, and watermelon.


Beta-carotene is another powerful antioxidant. Like vitamin C, beta-carotene helps destroy free radicals before they can cause excessive damage to joints. A diet rich in beta-carotene also helps slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Beta-carotene is found in colorful fruits and vegetables.

Excellent food sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, winter squash, collard greens, chard, cantaloupe, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, cayenne pepper, peppermint leaves, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, and apricots.


Niacin, also known as vitamin B-3, plays many roles in the body and is needed for healthy cells. Some studies show that niacin may cut osteoarthritis risk in half.

Excellent food sources of niacin include crimini mushrooms and tuna. Very good sources include salmon, chicken breast, asparagus, halibut and venison.

To Reduce the Pain of Osteoarthritis

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, like vitamin C and beta-carotene, is yet another antioxidant that helps eliminate damaging free radicals. Studies have shown that osteoarthritis sufferers with high intakes of vitamin E report a significant reduction in their pain. Many are even able to reduce the amount of pain-killers they need to take. Mustard greens, chard, turnip greens, and sunflower seeds are a few excellent sources of vitamin E.


In Australia, boron has been a very popular remedy for osteoarthritis for many years.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in some studies to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. When the diet contains plenty of these essential fats, the cells make less of the pro-inflammatory substances and more of the anti-inflammatory substances.

By reducing inflammation, omega-3 fats help prevent the damage to the cartilage and connective tissue that usually occurs in osteoarthritis.

Excellent food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts and salmon.


Some studies show that niacinamide can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and may be able to reduce the amount of pain-killers needed.

Recommended Diet

What should you eat if you have osteoarthritis or are trying to avoid getting it? The best advice is to eat a varied diet high in necessary nutrients.

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