If you’re an athlete or someone in your family has osteoporosis, you want to do everything you can to prevent knee injuries. In a previous article, we discussed a new training program for athletes to prevent knee injuries. Training includes plyometric training, strength training, agility and flexibility exercises.
But exercise and training aren’t the only ways to strengthen your knees. A nutritious diet helps strengthen muscles and joints and avoid inflammation and pain.
To protect your body against knee pain, look for foods that provide these important nutrients.
You’ve probably seen enough “Milk?” advertising that calcium is known to strengthen bones. The stronger the knee bones, the more likely you are to avoid injury. In addition, strong bones protect against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease of poor bone quality that increases the risk of fractures.
Calcium helps your muscles contract, which is often done during physical activity. Good calcium foods include:
It’s easy to add a little calcium to your diet. Try adding cheese to your sandwich, sprinkling almonds on your yogurt, or adding salmon to your salad. Avoid excessive consumption of salt, caffeine and alcohol, which reduce the positive effects of calcium on the body.
- Vitamin D
Calcium increases bone strength, while vitamin D helps calcium do its job. It helps your body absorb calcium, which helps with muscle strength and development.
You can eat more vitamin D in your diet.
But the best source of vitamin D is the sun. Spend time outside every day to help your body absorb this important nutrient. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important nutrient in many parts of your body, and your bones are no exception. Vitamin C helps the body make collagen, an important protein that makes up bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
Foods that contain vitamin C include:
Red and green pepper
Adult women need 75 mg of vitamin C per day, and adult men need 90 mg per day.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids to maintain a healthy heart, metabolism, and immune system. These fatty acids can help reduce joint pain, inflammation, and swelling in the knee joint. These will improve bone mineral density and speed up muscle recovery.
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in:
Fish contains two important types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Nuts and seeds have another type called ALA. If you don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids, your doctor may recommend that you take a supplement.
Protein is an important component of muscles, so if you want to strengthen your knee muscles, you need to get enough protein. In fact, protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of your total calories.
You can get protein from:
For strong knees, combine a protein-rich diet with strength exercises like lunges and squats.
If you want to prevent knee pain and injury, exercise is essential. But just as important is a healthy diet rich in nutrients to support bone and muscle health. If you have injured your knee, Orthopedic Surgeon Frank Noyes is happy to help.
Support your knee health with these nutrients and keep reading our blog for more advice on knee injuries and knee health.