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Arthritis Health Center

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Eating Right With Limited Mobility

Your guide from soup to nuts -- or smoothies, as the case may be.

Beefing Up Your B Vitamins

"B vitamins including thiamin, folate, B-6, and B-12 can be hard to get," Northwestern's Jackson says.

"This can be a problem because foods that are rich in these vitamins include green leafy vegetables, fish, poultry, and lean meats that take too much time to prepare, or foods like nuts that are hard to eat if you have trouble chewing," she explains.

For folate, drinking a glass of fortified orange juice "is a down and dirty way to make sure you're getting enough," she says. Tuna or salmon in pouches and/or pre-cooked poultry are also good, user-friendly sources of B vitamins, especially B-6 (not to mention protein!). B-12 comes from eggs and cheese and thiamin is typically found in meat, legumes, grain, yeast, and wheat germ.

"These days, you can buy pre-cooked chicken in a pouch and it's very easy to throw on a bed of pre-cleaned salad greens," she says. A daily multivitamin helps too!

Drinking Your Fill

As people age, fluid intake can become a big problem, largely because we're at an increased risk of dehydration as we get older, Jackson says.

"Some people who have decreased mobility are reluctant to drink adequate amounts because it can be painful to go to the bathroom, but it's important to be conscious of drinking fluid, even if it's cumbersome to go to bathroom," she says.

"Dehydration causes low energy when you are already having energy problems," she says. Aim for as close to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day as you can get.

Making Sure You Aren't 'D-ficient'

"Getting enough vitamin D can become more difficult if you are homebound or go out less," Jackson says. If you are not in the sun, your body can't make enough vitamin D -- also called the sunshine vitamin.

Egg yolks are a great source. "Try hard-boiling three eggs per week and you can eat them with meals or for a snack," she says. "A cup of milk can be easy when you are not looking to expend a lot of effort, or a cup of yogurt."

The American College of Rheumatology recommends that anyone taking steroids, especially for more than three months, should be taking a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D supplements on a daily basis. These medications, which are commonly used to treat many conditions, including arthritis, can make bones weak and susceptible to fracture. Dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt, are often rich in calcium and milk is usually fortified with vitamin D.

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