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Vitamin C

Your body uses this vitamin, found in oranges and other citrus fruits, for a number of different purposes. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen -- the building block of skin, cartilage, ligaments, and blood vessels, and it protects against harmful substances that contribute to disease. Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant and studies suggest that it has some anti-inflammatory benefits.

The evidence:

  • Taking vitamin C supplements may significantly lower levels of CRP (c-reactive protein), research finds. Whether having lower levels of this inflammatory marker might translate into a lower risk for heart disease remains to be seen, however.  

 

Vitamin D

The same vitamin that works with calcium to strengthen bones can also protect against inflammation. Vitamin D can be found in fish, liver, beef, egg yolks, and some fortified foods. Vitamin D is also produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

The evidence:

  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. Taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce inflammation in people with these conditions, although this hasn't been proven. It's also unclear whether or not taking vitamin D supplements can prevent any of these conditions. Vitamin D deficiency may even increase levels of inflammatory markers in healthy people.
  • Vitamin D supplements may also reduce the inflammation associated with age-related diseases.
  • One study found that people with the highest vitamin D levels had a 40% lower risk of colon cancer than those who had the lowest level of this vitamin. However, it's not yet clear whether taking vitamin D supplements can actually lower cancer risk.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Common food sources include nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

The evidence:

  • Vitamin E comes in several different forms. The alpha-tocopherol type may help prevent heart disease by slowing the release of inflammatory substances that damage the heart.
  • Alpha-tocopherol also might be effective for easing lung inflammation related to allergies. However, because studies were conducted on animals, it's not yet clear whether the results will translate to humans.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K -- found in green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, kale, and spinach -- is best known for its role in helping blood clot, but research is finding that it may have other benefits, too.

The evidence:

  • Getting more vitamin K can reduce levels of inflammatory markers throughout the body.

None of the research done so far provides enough justification to take numerous vitamin supplements daily. It's still not clear whether taking any of these vitamins will reduce your risk for diseases linked to inflammation. However, getting enough of these vitamins each day in your diet could help you stay healthier in general.

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