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Knee Healthy

Prevent Osteoarthritis with Good Nutrition

Knee Healthy
By: cscott1287


My name is Christin and I am a rising senior at Wellesley College. I'm a lifelong athlete and ultimately plan to head to medical school and specialize in orthopedics and sports medicine. For the last year I have worked in the athletic training room in Wellesley's sports medicine department learning about injury prevention and treatment of the varsity athletes at the college. It's been an amazing experience, chock full of broken limbs, blood, and chronic sports-related injuries. Since I started the job, it seems like I have become the go-to girl among my friends for advide on fitness, injury prevention, nutrition and just staying healthy in general. I am honestly pretty anal about keeping up a healthy lifestyle and I owe it all to growing up an athlete. But the truth is that the majority of tips athletes learn to maximize their workouts, how to maintain a healthy diet and to prevent injury should be available to recreational participants. I feel like this information is most important for the recreational population in order to prevent the most basic of injuries and allow full enjoyment of the sport or activity with which they are engaged. It is my hope to bring my obsessive desire to be cognizant of the latest fitness and nutrition research to the general public in a clearer form and most importantly get some feedback on what works best for different people. Enjoy!


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Prevent Osteoarthritis with Good Nutrition - Jul 24
Let's talk nutrition. We all know what an impact healthy eating can have on overall quality of life, but what do all these recommended foods actually do for specific parts ...
The Value of Cross-training and Yoga For Runners - Jun 24
Running is likely one of the most invigorating and popular sports in the world, attracting elite athletes and recreationalists alike. However, more often than not, the “runner’s ...
Posted: Jul 24, 2009 16:37
  • Prevent Osteoarthritis with Good Nutrition

    Let's talk nutrition. We all know what an impact healthy eating can have on overall quality of life, but what do all these recommended foods actually do for specific parts of our bodies? Specifically, which of these healthful foods is packed with nutrients that are essential for optimal bone and joint health?

    Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common causes of joint pain and the knee is certainly not an exception. Osteoarthritis of the knee causes a roughening and thinning of the cartilage, or cushioning between the upper and lower leg bones. Knee cartilage is called the 'meniscus' and forms a disk shaped cushion protecting the leg bones from rubbing together during movement. In the beginning stages of OA of the knee, and in progression of the disease, the meniscus develops cracks and gradually wears away. Physical symptoms result in pain, and stiffness, with grinding noises noticed as bone rubs against bone.

    One of the nutrients found to reduce degradation of the menisci from OA is Vitamin C. A ten-year Australian study found that out of 300 participants, those who maintained a high level of Vitamin C intake over the course of the study showed a 50% reduction in degredation and thinning of the knee cartilage compared to those who were not regularly intaking the vitamin. While there is no definite answer as to why Vitamin C works to prevent knee OA, researchers speculate that the answer lies in Vitamin C's role in biosynthesis of the collagen fibrils that compose cartilage.

    Another important nutrient that plays a role in maintaining knee health is Vitamin D. A similar study to the Australian Vitamin C study was conducted in Boston with the goal of determining the effect of supplemented Vitamin D intake on progression of OA over a period of 8 years. The researchers found those, whose knee x-rays showed signs of early stages of OA, were not as likely to experience the full-blown progression of the joint disease eight years later if their dietary intake and blood levels of vitamin D were higher than the recommended daily amount. These results have been attributed to Vitamin D's positive, hormone-like affects on bone cells and growth, and the researchers postulated that vitamin D may affect the surrounding bone material in joints as well, thus halting the progression of OA. These results could be especially relevent for individuals who do not obtain Vitamin D from sunlight due to their geographic location, such as in Boston.

    To make sure you are getting enough Vitamin C, add foods like broccoli, strawberries, oranges, papaya, cauliflower, parsley and kale to your daily diet. Vitamin C supplements are also available at local pharmacies and can even help protect against illnesses such as the common cold. Excellent sources of vitamin D include salmon while very good sources include shrimp, vitamin-D fortified milk and eggs. You can also get Vitamin D by simply sitting in the sun! However people who have darker skin have a higher concentration of melanin in their skin and must sit in the sun longer to absorb sufficient amounts of the vitamin. If this is the case, or if you live in an area with diminished sunlight, your best bet might be to invest in a Vitamin D supplement. 

    While there is still much to learn from research about how to best maintain knee health,  increasing your intake of these essential vitamins can improve your chances at a long and active life for your knees. OA is a condition that worsens with time; it doesn't just happen in an instant, so take precautions now to save yourself some pain in the future! :)



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  • By: joskim: Sep, 19, 2013 23:51 PM
    Thanks for the very informative post. I always try to take a lot of vitamin C, but I had never heard of its effects on knee health.

    Great to know! 

    By: ppatel24: Jul, 05, 2011 13:34 PM
    • calcium: Most women with arthritis need calcium supplements to help to prevent the loss of bone that leads to osteoporosis.
    • B vitamin: Several B vitamins may help reduce joint inflammation and pain. Foods enriched in vitamin B-3 include lean meats, fish, tofu, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds. Foods with vitamin B-5 are meat, eggs, soybeans, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, lentils and peanuts. Vitamin B-6 is found in meat, fish, whole grains, wheat germ, whole wheat, bananas and soybeans.
    • Vitamin C: Some studies display that vitamin C may reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Foods high in vitamin C include broccoli, red peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and strawberries.
    • Vitamin D: Osteoporosis progresses slower in women with high levels of vitamin D because it helps calcium protect bones and joints. 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 helps ease osteoarthritis pain and leg cramps. Foods high in vitamin E are almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower and safflower seeds, wheat germ and whole wheat flour, and various fruits and vegetables.


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