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What Vitamins are good for Bones and Cartilage?

Your bones have a major role in protecting your vital organs and structure for the muscles. So, when it comes to self-care, maintaining the strength of your bones should be a top priority for you. Although the growth of our bones happens mainly during childhood and adolescence, taking good care of your bone health and joint is vital at all stages of life.

Bones are the base of your physical structure. Therefore, treating your bones with care will boost your physical capabilities and also reduce your risk for osteoarthritis (degeneration of joint cartilage and underlying bone), osteoporosis (a condition where bones become fragile and brittle) and other bone and joint related conditions.

Including vitamins rich diet contribute to stronger bones and help maintain an overall healthier lifestyle. The following tips can help.

Vitamin D:

It is one of the most important vitamins for bones and joints. Our body stores vitamin D in the fatty tissues. This means you do not have to replenish the nutrient on a daily basis. According to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Lack of this nutrient can cause osteoarthritis. Vitamin D is generally available in supplement form, either by itself or as part of a multivitamin. Exposure to minimal amounts of the sun will stimulate the production of vitamin D in your body. Eating foods rich in the nutrient offers another option. Our body requires 600 IU of vitamin D every day, but, avoid consuming more than 4,000 IU each day, due to the risk of toxicities.

Dietary sources of Vitamin D: fish, oysters, margarine and fortified foods like cereals and milk. Dairy foods such as cheese, butter, and cream.

Vitamin A:

Vitamins for bone health, Vitamin A plays an important role. Vitamin A positively impacts both osteoclasts (bone breaking down cells) and osteoblasts (bone building cells). However, in spite of its good effects, much clinical research links higher vitamin A levels with fractures and lower bone density.

One source of vitamin A is retinol, found in meat and fish, fortified breakfast cereals, and vitamin supplements. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and stored in our livers. Therefore, the liver of animals and fish are particularly rich in vitamin A.

Another source of vitamin A is beta-carotene, found in dark green and orange fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is generally considered safe.

But, too much vitamin A, meaning more than 3,000 mcg or 10,000 IU per day, may give you a headache and is also linked to bone loss. Hence, you have to pay particular attention to this risk if you take supplements or eat liver.

Sources of Vitamin A: Muskmelon, spinach, carrots, mangoes, eggs, sweet potatoes, fat-free milk, fatty fish, liver and cheese pizza,

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 shows to have an impact on bone-building cells. Low levels of vitamin B12 are linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis in both men and women. Vitamin B12 is generally found in meat and fish.

Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed by people with gastrointestinal ailments that lead to poor absorption of fat and also those who have undergone a gastric bypass.  Elderly people in their 80s and 90s may develop changes in the linings of the stomach that prevents them from absorbing iron and B12. In such cases where absorption becomes an issue, doctors may administer injections of B12, bypassing the digestive tract, so patients may get B12 benefits. 

Sources of Vitamin B12: Fortified breakfast cereal, dairy products, fish, milk, eggs, meat, shellfish, poultry, and other supplements

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is important for healthy bones as well as healthy gums. It is vital to the formation of collagen, the foundation on which bone mineralization is built. Studies have linked increased vitamin C levels with superior bone density.

Vitamin C is water-soluble and the most common reason for low levels is poor intake. Some people with poor absorption will have lower levels of vitamin C. While the elderly at nursing homes tend to have low levels of vitamin C, smokers also tend to show lower blood levels of vitamin C as their intestines do not absorb the vitamin C normally.

Sources of Vitamin C: Broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, kale, oranges, papaya, lemons, strawberries

Vitamin K:

Vitamin K is essential for normal bone growth and development. It is also known as calcium vitamins.Vitamin K helps attract calcium to the bone. Low blood levels of vitamin K are linked to low bone density and potentially increased risk of fracture. But, clinical trials did not show vitamin K supplementation to be of help in improving the bone density.

Deficiency of Vitamin K is not common in healthy adults probably because it is found in many of the foods that we eat every day. Individuals on blood thinning medications should not take vitamin K.

Sources of Vitamin K: Broccoli (cooked), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Canola oil, kale, olive oil, parsley (raw) and spinach.

By Dr.Kaushik Reddy, M.S Ortho.       

Consultant Orthopaedic & Sports Surgeon

Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills

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