Top Arthritis Foods For Strong Bones and Joints

This article is here to provide you with information about how an arthritis diet can help strengthen your bones and joints. There are approximately 10 million people in the UK alone suffering from some form of arthritis. 80% of them suffer from osteoarthritis, marked by pain in the weight-bearing joints (knees, hips, back) due to excessive wear and tear.

In general, arthritis symptoms include joint stiffness, pain, and impaired function. There are a wide range of joints and surrounding tissues that can be affected, eventually leading to joint instability, deformation, and lack of mobility if not properly managed.

Unfortunately, at this stage there is no 100% cure for any type of arthritis, including the prevalent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Nevertheless, there has been significant research into combination therapies that are making living with arthritis more manageable. In addition to medications, occupational therapy, and natural supplements, more people are subscribing to an arthritis diet consciously eating more of some foods and less of others.

How Important Is Diet For Arthritis?

Like many diseases, our diet affects our body’s ability to deal with arthritis.

There are several recommendations for a working arthritis diet:

  • Maintain a well-balanced diet to support general health. A poor diet will not only negatively affect arthritis symptoms, it may also accelerate the progression of the disease and make the body more susceptible to other health problems.
  • Avoid fasting or crash diets that place added strain on the body
  • Increase calcium intake to minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Maintain healthy fluid intake, drinking plenty of water.
  • Keep body weight within a healthy range. Too much weight places extra stress on the joints, especially the hips and knees.

While these are good general guidelines, any arthritis diet should also focus on reducing inflammation, strengthening bones and cartilage, and reducing oxidative stress by elevating antioxidant intake.

The Problem With Diet

Our modern diet does not supply the nutrients our joints need in sufficient quantities.

OVERVIEW: Osteoarthritis & Treatment Strategies


This is the most common type of non-inflammatory arthritis and is the most common form of arthritis in the UK1. Statistics from Arthritis Research reveal that 8.75 million people have sought treatment for osteoarthritis in the UK.

While this disease usually develops in people over the age of 50, it can develop at any age in response to anther joint-related problem or an injury. More than 30 percent of women have some degree of osteoarthritis by age 65.

Osteoarthritis make movement very difficult. In the early stages the disease affects the cartilage lining of the joints, leading to stiffness and pain. As the cartilage thins the joint bones start to rub together, increasing deformation and discomfort.

Initially, osteoarthritis starts with minor pain during activities, but soon the pain can become continuous and even occur while in a state of rest. The joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include the hips, knees, hands, and spine.

People with prior joint trauma, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are at the highest risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Treatment Strategies

The principal aims of treating osteoarthritis are to adequately control pain, enhance function, and minimize disability. All treatment plans should include a combination of therapies focusing on the best strategy for individual circumstances.

The primary treatment for osteoarthritis has been paracetamol for pain relief. However, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are also recommended in the case of moderate or severe pain 2. The types of medications prescribed to help manage osteoarthritis will depend on other underlying health factors. For example, people suffering from osteoarthritis and hypertension should avoid NSAIDs and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors because they can increase blood pressure3. Corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid injections may also be a viable short-term treatment option for some patients.

Exercise, TENs and acupuncture4,5, heat or cold packs6, and healthy weight management7 are all important aspects of non-pharmaceutical osteoarthritis management strategies.

Occupational therapy combined with a healthy arthritis diet and nutritional supplements can help to lessen the burden on the joints and improve overall joint health.

Strengthening Bones and Joints with an Arthritis Diet

Many people that suffer from arthritis are also at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Therefore, any arthritis diet foods should contain nutrients that support the strengthening of the joints and bones.

Calcium, vitamin K2 (menaquinone), vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese are all important nutrients that support healthy bones and joints.

Calcium is essential for maintaining bone mass.

However, for the body to effectively utilise calcium it needs the support of other nutrients.

Foods that promote strong bones & joints

Foods rich in Calcium

While most people associated dairy foods with calcium, many leafy greens, legumes, fruit, and seafood also contain this important mineral.

Calcium-Rich Foods
• Collard greens • Broccoli • Kale • Soy beans • Bok Choy • Figs • Oranges • Sardines • Salmon • Shrimp • Ricotta • Yogurt • Milk • Mozzarella • Cheddar cheese • Feta cheese • Cottage cheese • Parmesan cheese

Key nutrients that support calcium absorption

fruits and veggies for an arthritis dietThis vitamin plays a key role in calcium metabolism, with several studies confirming that menaquinone is important for protecting bone health8,9,10. Menaquinone is found in certain animal foods and fermented foods. Unfortunately, K2-rich foods are typically high in fat. So while it is important to included foods containing K2 in an arthritis diet, they should be consumed in moderation.

Vitamin D

This pseudo-vitamin is needed to help increase the absorption rate of calcium within the gastrointestinal tract. Without vitamin D, calcitriol cannot be formed, preventing the insufficient calcium availability and weakening of the bones.


The second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium, phosphorus also plays an important role in building strong bones and teeth. Most people get sufficient phosphorus in their diet.

Magnesium and Manganese

The trace elements magnesium and manganese are needed to absorb calcium. Studies show that deficiencies in these nutrients cause bone degradation and can increase the risk of osteoporosis11,12.

Foods rich in Vitamin K

Vitamin D-Rich Foods
• Salmon • Tuna • Mackerel • Fish liver oil • Mushrooms • Beef liver • Cheese • Egg yolks


The primary sources of this vitamin are meat derived, especially organ meat. This is because animals have the ability to synthesise this vitamin from vitamin K1 they aquire from eating grass. Consequently, meats, dairy and eggs derived from grass-fed animals have a richer concentration of vitamin K2 compared with animals that are grain fed13.

Natto is the only vegetarian source of vitamin K2. The only reason natto contains vitamin K2 is due the bacterial strain used during the fermentation process. Vegetarians and vegans may need to take a dietary supplement to ensure that they are gaining enough vitamin K2 in their diet.

Since the richest sources of vitamin K2 also have a high concentration of saturated fat it’s important not to eat excessive amounts of these foods. This is another reason why a dietary supplement may be a better alternative.

Vitamin K2-Rich Foods
• Natto (fermented soybeans) • Hard cheese • Soft cheese • Egg yolk • Butter • Chicken liver • Salami • Chicken breast • Ground beef

Foods rich in Vitamin D

The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sufficient sunlight. There are also some food sources of vitamin D, but this is largely restricted to fish.

Foods rich in Phosphorus

Fortunately phosphorus is found in just about all foods, so rarely are any changes needed in an arthritis diet to account for a deficiency.

Phosphorus-Rich Foods
• Salmon • Pumpkin Seeds • Shellfish • Cheese • Brazil Nuts • Pork • Beef • Veal • Pulses • Sardines • Soya Beans

Key nutrients that support calcium absorption

Foods rich in Magnesium & Manganese

Seafood and plant-based foods tend to be the best sources of the trace elements magnesium and manganese.

Manganese & Magnesium-Rich Foods
• Shellfish • Nuts • Seeds • Tofu • Whole Gains • Beans • Fish • Spinach • Kale • Bananas • Yogurt

These nutrients can all be sourced from high quality whole foods. However, foods supplements are more time-efficient and cost-effective at supplying the nutrients. Of course, patients should do their utmost to follow a healthy arthritis diet in any case.


Sourcing the nutrients

There are essentially two ways to source the above nutrients: from high quality, whole foods or from food supplements.

On the one hand, sourcing the nutrients from whole food will guarantee that you will eat a more balanced and complete diet on the whole. On the other hand, however, it is both cost and time-intensive to ensure that all nutrients are supplied every day in sufficient dosages.

Fresh, unprocessed high quality foods need to be purchased from markets to minimise occurrence of preservatives and toxins. Of course, these pollutants in cheap food can themselves aggravate inflammation.

Food supplements are more efficient and effective at supplying the nutrients. Of course, patients should do their utmost to follow a healthy arthritis diet in any case.


A large number of arthritis-friendly foods have been identified and these should be preferably consumed. At the same time it is advisable to consume so-called combination joint supplements to ensure that the micro nutrients are available to the body in effective dosages.



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