Calcium for Joint Health
Because we're talking about bones, we must discuss calcium, Plank tells WebMD. "It's not just because calcium builds bones. It's because every time your heart pumps or a muscle contracts, your body has to use calcium. You have to have adequate calcium on board."
When your body is short on calcium, it takes calcium from bones. By getting enough calcium in your diet -- and in supplements -- you ensure adequate calcium in your blood and in bones.
Most people need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of elemental calcium a day, and can easily get that calcium from dairy foods (303 milligrams in 1 cup of skim milk), fortified juices and foods, and from supplements.
Vitamin D3 for Healthy Bones
Vitamin D has long been known to promote healthy bones by helping them absorb calcium. You'll find it easily in many foods, like fortified milk and orange juice. The body also produces a critical form of vitamin D -- vitamin D3 -- when the skin is exposed to sunlight, Plank explains. Vitamin D3 is now available in supplement form.
One study in Australia showed that when women took vitamin D3 and calcium during winter months (when they had less sun exposure) they had less bone loss. One research group in the U.K. reviewed nine studies of vitamin D3; it reported that people with osteoporosis who took the supplement had an increase in bone density compared to those taking placebo.
"People are looking more closely at vitamin D3 these days," Plank says. "Your body needs vitamin D3 for immunity. If you don't have enough vitamin D3, your body is not going to absorb calcium -- which it needs for function of bones and joints."
One thing to keep in mind is that most multivitamins contain a 400 IU dose of vitamin D3. But experts recommend a daily dose of between 1,000 IU and 2,000 IU to get meaningful results. If you are going to take an over-the-counter vitamin D3 supplement, look for supplements that are sold as tablets that contain at least 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3.
Ginger for Joint Pain and Inflammation
Ginger has been used in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine for hundreds of years. The roots and underground stems are the basis for powders, extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. The claims are that ginger decreases arthritis joint pain and inflammation.
There is little scientific evidence to support ginger for arthritis. But a 2008 study in the British journal Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, along with many other positive qualities. At least two additional studies have found similar effects in ginger extract. It is possible that dried ginger, such as the powdered spice or ginger capsules, is a more effective anti-inflammatory than fresh ginger.
People on blood thinners or undergoing surgery should use caution when taking ginger as one study suggested it may increase the risk of bleeding.