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Nutrition For Bones, Muscles & Joints


Choosing a balanced diet containing the right vitamins and minerals decreases our chances of developing deficiencies later on in life. The body's structure relies on vitamins and minerals to ensure muscle tone (including the heart), healthy functioning of nerves; correct composition of body fluids; and the formation of healthy blood and bones.


Calcium

One of the most important minerals fro bone, muscle and joint health is calcium. Calcium is the most common mineral in the body. It is found in large quantities in our bones and teeth, providing necessary strength to these structures. It is essential for optimal nerve and muscle function and blood clotting. The many functions of calcium in the body are so vital to our survival that if dietary calcium is too low, calcium will be taken from the bones for these functions.


Foods high in calcium should be included in a healthy eating plan. Diary products are rich in calcium that is easy to absorb. Non-dairy sources with equally absorbable calcium are green leafy vegetables from the kale family. Spinach, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and dried beans are rich in calcium but from these foods it's not easily absorbed. Diets that are high phosphorous content and also high levels of caffeine negatively affect the calcium levels in the body and, therefore, the health of bones, muscles and joints.


Magnesium

Magnesium is another mineral that is required for efficient muscle contraction and conduction of nerve impulses. Low magnesium levels in the body can also affect the body's calcium levels, lowering them and putting bone health at risk. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains and nuts. Small amounts are present in meat and milk. Large quantities of fibre in the diet and low protein intake can reduce the amount of magnesium able to be absorbed by the body.


Vitamin D

One of the vitamins essential for regulating the formation of bone and the absorption of vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions to help control the movement of calcium between bone and blood. Vitamin D comes primarily from the action of UVB light on the skin. Food sources such as cod liver oil, sardines, and salmon, tuna, milk and milk products contain small amounts of vitamin D.


Vitamin C

The structures of bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels is provided in part and maintained by collagen. The formation of strong efficient collagen requires vitamin C. As we are unable to form vitamin C ourselves we must obtain it from our diets. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, green leafy vegetables and peppers. Also important for producing strong collagen and therefore strong bone structure, is folic acid. Folic acid is found in cereals, beans, and green leafy vegetables, orange and orange juice.


Antioxidants

Another important action of vitamin C is that it acts as a strong antioxidant and is capable of regenerating other antioxidants like vitamin E. The role of antioxidants is to mop up free radicals (the by-products of normal metabolism). Excessive amounts of free radicals cause damage to joint surfaces and muscle cell regeneration. Antioxidants reduce the potential of these free radicals to cause joint damage. Antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium and are present in fruits and vegetables, the highest quantities are found in the most deeply and brightly coloured.


Glucosamine Sulphate

Cartilage that lines the articulating surfaces of all joints is critical to joint health. Cartilage is the shock absorber of joints and is continually rebuilt if a source of raw materials is available. Supplements such as Glucosamine sulphate can be added to a healthy diet to assist joints that maybe showing signs of wear and tear. Stock from boiling bones fro soups and stews provides a natural source of these raw materials.


Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFA's) also reduce the degenerative changes in tissues and cells and help guard against some cancers. EFA's are highly unsaturated fatty acids. They aid in decreasing the inflammatory response and help relieve pain and discomfort in joints and muscles. EFA's can be found in oily fish, (sardines, herrings, mackerel), and seeds.


There are certain foods and substances that adversely affect the body's use of minerals and vitamins. High saturated/animal fats. Refined foods, white flour, white sugar, white rice, chocolate, carbonated drinks and fruit juices with high sugar concentration should be kept to a minimum if not weaned from the diet completely. Meat and dairy products should be kept within a recommended weekly amount. Dairy products as calcium sources should be varied with other non-dairy sources.


For more specific nutritional requirements consult your chiropractor.


Any joint that is not being used correctly will be susceptible to stresses and strains. Regular chiropractic checks and advice on posture and exercise all help to keep the bones, muscles and joints in good health.