There’s a lot of scientific evidence that simply supplementing with key vitamins C, D, E and B complex can improve joint health and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and a leading cause of disability in older people. The usual recommendations for managing the disease concentrate on relief of symptoms, using agents such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs – “pain relievers”). These drugs, however, do have significant side effects and don’t slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Perhaps the most important of all the vitamins for osteoarthritis is vitamin C, which slows inflammatory response in the body (and moreover has many other health benefits, such as reduction of cardiovascular risk). Here are two important studies on vitamin C and osteoarthritis:
•The Framingham Osteoarthritis Cohort Study found that moderate intake of vitamin C (120-200 mg/day) yielded a three-fold lower risk of osteoarthritis progression. The association was strong and highly significant, and was consistent between sexes and across different severities of the disease. The higher vitamin C intake also reduced the likelihood of development of knee pain.
•A smaller 2003 study from Denmark carefully tested 1 gram/day of calcium ascorbate (containing 898mg Vitamin C) versus placebo for people with verified osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee. The main finding was that vitamin C reduced pain significantly compared to placebo.
As for Vitamin D: bone and cartilage metabolism depend on the presence of vitamin D. Several studies of vitamin D suggest adequate intake of vitamin D may slow the progression and possibly help prevent the development of osteoarthritis. See, for example, the older study, “Vitamin D and bone health in the elderly,” in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1982; and again, in the Framingham study mentioned above, risk of osteoarthritis progression was seen to increase three-fold in participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D intake and serum levels of vitamin D.
For recommendations on how best to take these vitamins see NYBC entries at