Vitamin deficiencies that are bad for joints

Whilst there are many conditions that can lead to joint pain, nutrition can in fact make matters worse, or even be the cause of the problem in and of itself. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is often lacking essential nutrients. This in turn can lead to a number of health issues, including your musculoskeletal system.

Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of the nutrient void in their diets due to the prevalence of highly processed and fast foods. And many medications can often deplete the essential vitamins and minerals thus compounding existing issues.

The Importance of Vitamin D In Joint Health

Whilst many people don’t realise it, Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal joint health. And unfortunately the studies suggest up to half American adults are deficient in this essential nutrient. [1]

Vitamin D deficiency can increase inflammation and cause pain all by itself, [2] but this is even worse in people with conditions like arthritis. It also plays a part in processing calcium to keep bones healthy.

Research has shown that Vitamin D deficiencies are common in patients with chronic pain, with symptoms including fatigue and muscle aches. And even more so in older populations.

To increase your vitamin D levels, spending time in the sun is the most effective method. Aim for 20-30 minutes of sun exposure per day with exposed arms and legs. Depending on your location and sun exposure you may also need to supplement with vitamin D. It’s generally recommended to take a vitamin D supplement all year round if you’re in the northern US.

The Role of B Vitamins For Joints

The B vitamin family also plays a role in protecting your nerves and supporting joint health. Vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) have been shown to improve carpal tunnel syndrome and in some cases arthritis pain. And vitamin B3 and B12 have also shown similar results provide relief from osteoarthritis discomfort by reducing inflammation. [3]

To ensure sufficient intake of B vitamins, incorporate whole foods such as meat, fish, dairy, dark leafy greens, almonds, peanuts, mushrooms, avocados, beans, and eggs into your diet.

Joints and Vitamin E

Vitamin E is mostly known as an antioxidant. But, it does also have anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin E can provide notable symptom relief in individuals with joint discomfort. [4]

Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, red peppers, asparagus, fish, mangoes, and avocados.

The Importance of Magnesium for Joints

Magnesium is the most abundant mineral in the body, involved in over 300 biochemical reactions. But, a huge portion of American’s are in fact deficient. The reason it plays into joints is due to the fact it activates vitamin D and regulates other minerals use in the body. [5]

To increase your magnesium intake, consume dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, and bananas.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Joint Inflammation

Omega-3 fatty acids, or at least two of them EPA and DHA have been shown to reduce inflammation and promoting joint health. In some studies supplementing has been shown to be more effective than some pain killers for arthritis. On top of that these fatty acids stimulate the development of cartilage for joint repair. [6,7]

Sources of DHA and EPA include fatty fish like halibut, salmon, and sardines, as well as eggs. 

The only vegan source high in the correct omega’s is Algae. The others contain something called ALA which the body wastes 85% of converting.

The Importance of Calcium for Joint Strength

Calcium doesn’t come as any surprise as most people know it is essential for maintaining strong bones. Although it is also important for controlling muscle and nerve function. [8]

Leafy greens, such as dark leafy greens, are rich sources of calcium and can be incorporated into your diet to support joint health.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 does plays an important role in bone health and by extension joint health. It helps regulate calcium in the body, ensuring that calcium is deposited in bones and teeth rather than in soft tissues or arteries. Having enough vitamin K is also associated with a lower risk of osteoarthritis and lower progression rates. [9]

To get more K2 the best place is fermented foods and egg yolks.

Joint Medications and Nutrient Depletion

According to studies 60 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug regularly. [10] And many individuals take multiple medications. These can in turn cause nutrient depletion, the most important to watch out for with joint health are.

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used for pain relief in joint conditions can deplete iron, vitamin B9, vitamin D vitamin C, and zinc. [11]

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) used to slow the progression of joint damage can deplete various nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and important antioxidants like glutathione. [12]

There is also the risk of selenium deficiency with stronger pain medications which can cause more oxidative damage, progressing joint related issues.


A lot of deficiencies can effect joint health, and considering that several medications designed to treat joint pain can cause deficiencies it is quite important to keep that in mind if you suffer with joint pain.


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