As we age, bone and joint health take on more importance. Maybe we’ve had an injury and are looking to support healing. Perhaps we’re concerned about osteoporosis or arthritis and seeking ways to stay healthy. Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements can play a role in keeping bones and joints healthy. But make sure they’re part of a big-picture plan that includes diet, exercise, and support from healthcare providers. And be sure to talk with your doctors when you start a new supplement. There are medical considerations, including drug interactions, to consider. And not all over-the-counter products live up to the hype.
What Vitamins and Minerals Are Essential for Bone Health?
If you eat a healthy diet, you can get many of the nutrients you need for bone health. But especially as we age, adding supplements into the mix can help us make sure we’re covered. Here’s a look at some essential vitamins and minerals for bone and joint health that we may want to supplement:
- Calcium: Most of us know that calcium is one of the most important minerals for bone health. We often get the calcium we need from foods and beverages like milk and yogurt, but supplements can help if we’re not getting enough. As The Mayo Clinic puts it, “Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet falls short.” Helping your body absorb calcium is also crucial. That’s where some of the other bone health boosters come in.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and vitamin D deficiencies can lead to bone loss. We get essential Vitamin D from food sources and sunlight, but Vitamin D deficiency is a real problem, especially for people with dark skin and older adults. In this case, your doctor may recommend supplements, usually 1000 to 2000 IU.
- Many of us know that Vitamin C plays a significant role in immune function. It also helps with the formation of the protein collagen, which is essential for bone mineralization. It’s an excellent supplement to take daily and usually doesn’t have side effects.Vitamin K helps deliver calcium to the bone. If you’re vitamin K deficient, it can lead to low bone density and increase your risk of a fracture. However, many of us get the Vitamin K we need from our diet, and it can cause problems for patients on blood thinners. It’s one supplement you should discuss with your doctor before starting.
- Magnesium is a superstar mineral for bone health. It helps your body use Vitamin D and calcium. Studies show that magnesium deficiencies contribute to osteoporosis. Adequate magnesium levels can reduce the risk of fractures and promote healing. However, there are different forms of magnesium available. Talk with your doctor about which one offers the most benefits for you.
What Other Supplements Can Help With Bone Health?
In addition to vitamins and minerals, other products can help with bone and joint health. Be conscious of quality, and buy your supplements from a reliable source. And talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
- Fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids help build healthy cells, including the materials that cushion your joints. Omega 3 can also have anti-inflammatory properties. Look for fish oil supplements that contain both DHA and EPA.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin have become popular joint health supplements in recent years. They are natural components of the tissues that make up cartilage, which cushions our joints. Studies show mixed results for overall effectiveness, but some patients report improvement in joint pain and arthritis benefits.
- Collagen supplements have also taken off in recent years, and with good reason. Collagen is an essential protein that plays a role in everything from skin structure to blood clotting to bone health. Studies have shown that collagen peptides can boost bone density, especially in post-menopausal women, and potentially counteract osteoporosis. Collagen is available in powder supplements and from food sources like bone broth.
- Plant-based supplements like Turmeric and Ginger can help relieve inflammation and have other health benefits, including immune-boosting and antibacterial properties.
Supplements: Part of an Integrated Bone Health Plan
When used wisely, supplements can play a role in boosting bone and joint health. But we should combine them with a broader approach, including:
- A healthy diet with lots of vegetables and leafy greens.
- Fitness program including both cardio and strength training.
- Regular wellness checks with your primary care provider.
- Physical therapy for an injury or chronic conditions.
If you’re getting orthopaedic care for an injury, arthritis, or a chronic condition, supplements may help healing. But your orthopaedist needs to know about everything you’re taking to avoid dangerous interactions. And finally, over-the-counter supplements should not replace professional healthcare. If your joints hurt, see your orthopaedist. A range of approaches are available, including surgery and physical therapy. In many cases, physical therapy can be the most beneficial approach to tackling bone or joint pain. At Countryside Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy, our decades of experience and a top-notch team of physicians and physical therapists give us the bandwidth to find solid, medically sound solutions for joint pain. Sometimes supplements can give bone health a boost. But make sure you’re combining them with the best 21st Century healthcare for real results.