Joints & Bones

Last Updated: August 16, 2022

Bones do a lot more than just provide some shape to our bodies; they also produce blood cells, store and release minerals, and help regulate blood acid-base balance. Joints are the places where bones meet. Diet, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements all can play a role in bone and joint health.

What are joints and bones?

Bones not only provide shape to our bodies and protection for our organs but also produce red and white blood cells, act as a store for minerals like calcium and phosphorus, and help regulate blood acidity.[1] Joints are simply the spaces where bones meet. Some joints allow for a movement, such as knee joints, whereas others don’t, such as the joints between skull bones. The most common type of joint in the body — and the one that probably most easily comes to mind — are synovial joints, which are surrounded by a fluid-filled cavity and also contain cartilage to help with smooth movement.[1]

How could diet affect joints and bones?

A healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy is associated with better bone health.[2] Getting enough vitamin D, vitamin A, and calcium is particularly important for bone health.[3] A healthy diet — along with weight loss in people with obesity — is also important for joint health. [4] On the other end of the spectrum, being underweight decreases bone density while raising the risk of osteoporosis. Increasing oily fish intake and good sources of vitamin K like leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli may also be helpful in slowing osteoarthritis, which is the most prevalent form of arthritis.[5]

Which supplements are of most interest for joints and bones?

For bone health, vitamin d and calcium together have evidence supporting their use, although vitamin D on its own may not do much in this regard.[6] vitamin k supplements may also help prevent fractures to a small extent.[7] Supplements for joint health include glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellia, turmeric, type ii collagen, fish oil, and more.

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  1. ^OpenStax Anatomy & Physiology, Chapter 6. Accessed 5/24/22
  2. ^Movassagh EZ, Vatanparast HCurrent Evidence on the Association of Dietary Patterns and Bone Health: A Scoping Review.Adv Nutr.(2017-01)
  3. ^Karpouzos A, Diamantis E, Farmaki P, Savvanis S, Troupis TNutritional Aspects of Bone Health and Fracture Healing.J Osteoporos.(2017)
  4. ^Clark KLNutritional considerations in joint health.Clin Sports Med.(2007-Jan)
  5. ^Thomas S, Browne H, Mobasheri A, Rayman MPWhat is the evidence for a role for diet and nutrition in osteoarthritis?Rheumatology (Oxford).(2018-05-01)
  6. ^Pang Yao, Derrick Bennett, Marion Mafham, Xu Lin, Zhengming Chen, Jane Armitage, Robert ClarkeVitamin D and Calcium for the Prevention of Fracture: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysisJAMA Netw Open.(2019 Dec 2)
  7. ^Mott A, Bradley T, Wright K, Cockayne ES, Shearer MJ, Adamson J, Lanham-New SA, Torgerson DJEffect of vitamin K on bone mineral density and fractures in adults: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.Osteoporos Int.(2019-Aug)
  8. ^Dallas SL, Prideaux M, Bonewald LFThe osteocyte: an endocrine cell ... and more.Endocr Rev.(2013-Oct)
  9. ^Compston et al.OsteoporosisThe Lancet.
  10. ^Turcotte AF, O'Connor S, Morin SN, Gibbs JC, Willie BM, Jean S, Gagnon CAssociation between obesity and risk of fracture, bone mineral density and bone quality in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis.PLoS One.(2021)
  11. ^Aguirre L, Napoli N, Waters D, Qualls C, Villareal DT, Armamento-Villareal RIncreasing adiposity is associated with higher adipokine levels and lower bone mineral density in obese older adults.J Clin Endocrinol Metab.(2014-Sep)
  12. ^Lecka-Czernik B, Stechschulte LA, Czernik PJ, Dowling ARHigh bone mass in adult mice with diet-induced obesity results from a combination of initial increase in bone mass followed by attenuation in bone formation; implications for high bone mass and decreased bone quality in obesity.Mol Cell Endocrinol.(2015-Jul-15)
  13. ^Patel DM, Shah J, Srivastava ASTherapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine.Stem Cells Int.(2013)
  14. ^Hu L, Yin C, Zhao F, Ali A, Ma J, Qian AMesenchymal Stem Cells: Cell Fate Decision to Osteoblast or Adipocyte and Application in Osteoporosis TreatmentInt J Mol Sci.(2018 Jan 25)