I’m sure you know vitamin C is good for you. That it can help clear out your arteries, fight inflammation, help fight sicknesses like the cold, and that it’s even good for your skin.
But what you might not know is that right now, your body is working as fast as it can to destroy almost every bit of it.
That’s because your body doesn’t just use it … it uses up vitamin C to make collagen, the most abundant protein in your body. Collagen is the basis for your skin, bones, teeth, blood vessels, eyes, heart … essentially all parts of your body.
Collagen is stronger than steel wire, and as part of a network of an elastic-like substance called elastin, it makes up the connective tissue that holds you together.
That means that without vitamin C to make collagen, you would literally fall apart.
Your joints would fail, your blood vessels would break open, your gums would ulcerate, your teeth would fall out, and your immune system would fail, too.
All because of a lack of vitamin C.
In fact, they have a name for it when that happens. A disease called scurvy.
Scurvy is not something you see very much today because we know that vitamin C is important. You usually get the bare minimum of vitamin C through what you eat so that you don’t end up with a dietary deficiency.
In fact, that’s really all the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance is meant to prevent — a dietary deficiency of a nutrient. What the RDA doesn’t do is recommend how much of a nutrient you need so you can function at your best.
For example, the RDA of vitamin C for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
Meanwhile, most animals can make their own vitamin C, and based on what they produce, your body would make between 3,000 mg and 10,000 mg a day if it could — over 100 times more than the RDA!
But your body can’t make vitamin C. The problem is, your body is still making collagen, and it needs lots of vitamin C to make all that connective tissue that keeps you moving without pain or discomfort.
The joints in your body that can move are called synovial joints and the connective tissue that holds them together and lubricates your cartilage is called synovial fluid.
This thick, straw-colored liquid is made up mostly of collagen, but also blood plasma, hyaluronic acid and some other proteins. Synovial fluid isn’t just a lubricant, though. It’s also antibacterial, and your body uses it to fend off diseases like arthritis.1
As you age, things like strain, wear and tear, injury and even reactions to medications can let pollutants in to your joints, and synovial fluid can leak out. The combination can cause serious pain and inflammation on a daily basis.
I play tennis every day, so I need to keep my synovial joints like my knees, elbows, wrists and ankles all moving well. Here’s what I do to reduce inflammation and keep my synovial fluid healthy for less pain and irritation. And you can do it, too:
1. Take enough vitamin C.
Normally, you wouldn’t think of vitamin C for joint health, but because it’s used to make collagen, the building block of all your joints and connective tissue, you need to make sure you get enough through food or supplements every day.
Of course berries and oranges have a lot of vitamin C, but bell peppers, collard greens and papaya all have lots of vitamin C, too.
A little-known source of vitamin C is peppermint leaves. You can make peppermint tea — just make sure to cover the mug while brewing to keep in the oils. You can also freeze it to make iced peppermint tea during the summer. Or you can toss the leaves into a salad, or add some to your salad dressing oil.
Based on my own experience, I recommend 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day if you’re currently in good health. This will give you enough to produce the collagen required for joint health, strong blood vessels and heart disease prevention.
Pregnant women should get at least 6,000 mg per day — and in times of stress or sickness, you can take up to 20,000 mg. A powdered form may be more convenient for larger doses.
2. Take other joint-supporting nutrients.
- Glucosamine really packs a punch. This amino sugar is known to help repair damaged cartilage, reduce inflammation and help stop cartilage deterioration. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that glucosamine helped completely relieve the joint pain of 80 percent of its participants, and 70 percent had improved joint mobility. I recommend you take 500 mg of glucosamine twice a day with food, as a few of my patients have reported stomach upset if they took it on an empty stomach.
- Just 55 micrograms of selenium a day can help reduce your chances of osteoporosis (a disease in your bones that can make you more vulnerable to fractures) by up to 15 percent. And researchers have shown there is a direct correlation between the amount of this powerful mineral in your body and joint problems. The best source of selenium is found in Brazil nuts. They pack a whopping 544 micrograms in just 1 ounce. You can also get selenium from red meat, tuna, eggs and walnuts.
- D-Glucuronic Acid helps keep inflammation down and is one of the main components of hyaluronic acid, a building block of synovial fluid. You can take 250 mg twice a day if you already have joint pain, and after one week, reduce it to 250 mg per day.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
If you’ve got a few excess pounds, you might think you’re in a catch-22 … your joints hurt so you can’t exercise, and when you exercise it makes your joints hurt. But, excess weight can cause severe pressure on joints like your knees. Nearly six times your entire body weight is exerted on your knees when you walk,2 so the more you weigh, the more joint problems can occur.
That’s why I don’t recommend high-impact exercise which can put more strain on your joints and your synovial membranes. But I do recommend high-intensity, short-duration, progressively challenging exercises like I show you in my PACE program.
With PACE, you can melt fat faster, with little impact. The best part for your joints is that exercise helps your body with synovial fluid production,3 keeping your joints moving smoothly.
4. Get your essential fatty acids.
Omega-3s are produced from linolenic acid, and you get omega-6s from linoleic acid. They are crucial to joint health because having the right balance of them helps you avoid inflammation. But your body can’t create them. I recommend you get 2 to 5 grams of omega-3 each day, and as always, I recommend you get your nutrients through food.
You probably know that eggs, red meat and avocados have omega-3. And a quarter cup of walnuts can have over 2 grams. But two other sources you may not know about are navy and kidney beans, and winter squash. Beans can have up to a gram per cup, and winter squash has 300 mg of omega-3 per cup.
If you can’t get essential fatty acids through what you eat, try Sacha Inchi oil. One tablespoon has 6.85 grams of linolenic acid, and 5.15 grams of linoleic acid.
You could also use cod liver oil, which is packed with omega-3s. Almost 900 milligrams per teaspoon.
5. Take a daily dose of gelatin.
Gelatin, which is normally used in cooking, contains collagen. So does your cartilage. It’s widely used in Europe to help treat arthritis and assist in rebuilding cartilage damaged from strenuous sporting activities. In fact, studies done in Germany show how hydrolyzed gelatin can be used to treat joint conditions and help relieve pain, inflammation and stiffness of your joints. Gelatin can be used in all kinds of forms, but I suggest unflavored natural gelatin (7-10 grams a day is ideal).
To Your Good Health,
1 Gruber, B.F., Miller, B.S., Onnen, J., Welling, R.D., Wojtys, E.M., “Antibacterial properties of synovial fluid in the knee,” J. Knee Surg. July 2008;21(3):180-5
2 Felson, D., “Weight and osteoarthritis,” J. Rheumatol. 1995;43:7-9
3 Baumgarten, M., Bloebaum, R.D., Ross, S.D., et al, “Normal human synovial fluid: osmolality and exercise-induced changes,” J. Bone Joint Surg. Am. 1985;67:1336-1339
Written By: Updated: January 18,2011