Now that we’ve covered the first step of knowing which nutrients to include into your diet in order to manage pain, the next step is understanding that they don’t fly solo. Most nutrients need each other for proper absorption in the body.
The first duo, Vitamin D and Calcium. As a recap, Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory that helps with muscle, bone, and joint pain. Low levels of calcium can cause muscle pain and decrease bone density. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium and incidentally another mineral on the list, Magnesium. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish like salmon or tuna, red meat, and egg yolks. Calcium-rich foods include collard greens, broccoli, figs, and oranges.
Next, we have Vitamin C and plant-based Iron. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that controls muscle damage. While an iron deficiency can lead to muscle and joint pain, the absorption of iron will be much greater if they’re consumed together within the same meal rather than having them at separate times throughout the day. Examples of Vitamin C rich foods are citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, cantaloupe, and broccoli. Iron can be found in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes like lentils or beans.
Lastly, we have a broader category. Healthy fats and fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, E, D and K. Vitamin E mediates the inflammatory response and helps repair damaged tissue while a deficiency can lead to nerve pain. Vitamins A and K support bone health. These vitamins can be found in dark leafy greens like mustard greens or swiss chard, avocados, which also happens to be a healthy fat, butternut squash or sweet potatoes. For a good source of healthy fats, look to fatty fish that are high in omega-3s, nuts, seeds, like chia seeds or cooking oils like avocado, sunflower, and sesame.
Comment below for food pairing suggestions.