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Musculoskeletal Needs

Fueled by nutrients and oxygen from the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems, the muscles of the body make movement possible. They are attached to the bones of the skeleton, which they level around the joints of the body.

The bones and the joints between them are subject to a number of diseases. The following are diseases that can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements.

Arthritis (osteoarthritis)

The term arthritis means inflammation of a joint. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder that commonly occurs in the weight bearing joints (the knees, hips and spine). The cartilage in the joints begins to wear away, which causes the underlying bone to thicken and become distorted. At intermittent periods the joint becomes painful, swollen and stiff. The condition may become so severe that it may interfere with normal life.

Osteoarthritis becomes more common with age and is usually caused by free radical damage to the joint cartilage.

What you can do to help

Take plenty of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta carotene). These antioxidants will help to prevent the damage caused by free radicals and thus help prevent the development of the disease. These may be taken as part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Ensure that you get plenty of magnesium and potassium, a deficiency of which will make the muscles weak and spasm.

You may have a vitamin D deficiency, perhaps because of inadequate exposure to the sunlight and this should be rectified by allowing 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight onto arms, legs or back daily. You should take care not to burn by having more exposure to sunlight than suggested. However, do not take too much vitamin D. Taking high doses of vitamin D (10,000 to 50,000 IUs daily) may be harmful and a dose of 400IUs per day is adequate for housebound elderly people.

Zinc and selenium will be required in increased amounts by the body to assist in the healing of the joint.

It is necessary to get as much exercise as feasible and if you are overweight, try to loose the excess.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of pure filtered water.

Try to avoid eating refined carbohydrates and sugars and cut down on animal fats, especially if you are trying to loose weight.

Avoid members of the 'nightshade' family of foods, since they can cause joint problems. These include:

Evening primrose oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and may be useful.

Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee as these lead to an increase in joint pains.

A copper bracelet, popular with many arthritis sufferers, does seem to have some value, perhaps because small amounts of copper are absorbed through the skin. (see...)

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that affects more women than men. It is often more severe and generalized than osteoarthritis. The synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and swollen resulting in pain and stiffness in the joint. The small joints of the hands and feet are most commonly affected but rheumatoid arthritis may also affect the wrists, knees, or ankles.

In severe cases, there is considerable destruction of joints and other tissues, including skin, lymph nodes, lung, the heart and even the liver and kidneys can be affected by the rheumatoid process. Most sufferers have mild or moderate pain and swelling.

There are many theories as to the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, however, nutritional factors appear to play a major role. In particular there have been a number of reports linking food allergies to rheumatoid arthritis. Particularly suspect foods are: Wheat, oats, eggs, chicken, coffee, tea, yeast containing foods, dairy products (milk and cheese), beef and pork.

What you can do to help

Magnesium is required to form the synovial fluid that surrounds the joint.

Take plenty of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta-carotene). These may be taken as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Vitamin B complex so that you get plenty of vitamin B3, B5 and B6, in particular.

Large doses of fish oils have been shown to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis

Calcium panthothenate at 2g every day may prove useful for some suffers.

Zinc (at 30 mg per day) and selenium (about 250 mcg per day) will be required.

Copper, together with zinc and manganese, may help to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A copper bracelet has been beneficial for some sufferers. (see..)

It is necessary to get as much exercise as feasible.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of pure water.

Try to find out about any food that you may be allergic to and eliminate these from your diet.

Avoid members of the 'nightshade' family of foods, since they can cause joint problems. These include:

Evening primrose oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and may be useful.

Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as, coffee as these lead to an increase in joint pains.

Rheumatism

Rheumatism is the general term used to describe aches, pains and stiffness in the muscles and bones. Rheumatism may be caused by long term friction, viral infections, or environmental factors such as the damp and cold.

What you can do to help

Many cases of rheumatism respond well to dietary change and it is suggested that the following foods are eaten regularly to reduce muscular and joint inflammation. The foods are:

Drink plenty of pure water which will flush the system and act as a detoxifier.

Avoid members of the 'nightshade' family of foods, since they can cause joint problems. These include:

Evening primrose oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and may be useful.

Take plenty of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta-carotene). These may be taken as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Vitamin B complex so that you get plenty of vitamin B3, B5 and B6, in particular.

The minerals selenium (at 250 mcg daily) and zinc (at 30 mg daily) are also useful.

Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and colas, as these lead to an increase in joint pains.

Osteoporosis

With osteoporosis the bones waste away and become weak and fragile. Thinning of the bones leads to increased risk of fractures, particularly of the wrist, shoulder, hip and the femur.

The causes of osteoporosis are thought to be:

What you can do to help

An increased intake of magnesium and zinc may help prevent the worst effects of osteoporosis. These can be taken as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Calcium can be very helpful. Recommended doses are between 1,000 and 1,500 mg per day.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You may have a vitamin D deficiency, perhaps because of inadequate exposure to the sunlight, and this should be rectified by allowing 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight onto arm, legs or back daily. You should take care not to burn by having more exposure to sunlight than suggested. However, do not take too much vitamin D. Taking high doses of vitamin D (10,000 to 50,000 IUs daily) may be harmful and a dose of 400 IUs per day is adequate for housebound elderly people.

Foods containing boron, which reduces the body's excretion of calcium and magnesium and increases the production of estrogen, should be eaten. These foods include:

Take plenty of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta carotene). The antioxidants will help to slow degeneration.

Take essential fatty acids such as omega 3 oils to slow down the loss of calcium in the urine.

Avoid salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates and coffee and alcohol.

Get as much weight bearing exercise as you can. Placing demands on the bones by using the muscles that are attached to them will encourage the body to build bone rather than to loose it. (See.. for exercise suggestions)

If you smoke you should try to give it up. (see.. for tips)

If you have caffeine, alcohol, antacids, drugs, sugar, or refined food it won't matter how good the rest of the diet is. When the body's pH balance becomes acidic, calcium is pulled from the bones to buffer this acidic state, thereby weakening the bones. A study at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine at La Jolla reports that as little as two drinks in a day could cut the benefits of calcium in one's diet.

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References

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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The conventional medical treatment for arthritis involves anti-inflammatory drugs. These often produce good results with the pain level, but little improvement in the arthritic process itself and several undesirable side effects. As the understanding of the arthritic process has improved, it has become clear that there are several important nutritional factors that influence the inflammation found in arthritis.

It is clear that changes in diet and the use of specific supplements enables us to reduce inflammation and even to control the progression of the arthritis.