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Your joints and bones are responsible for keeping your body strong and moving, but over time they can deteriorate as a result of poor nutrition and heavy physical activity. Whether you are still growing, aging or physically active, it is critical to maintain your joint and bone health to stay physically fit and to prevent the onset of degenerative conditions, such as osteoporosis. Whether you are currently taking medications to relieve stiff joints and inflammation or you are just starting to feel the stress on your bones and joints, eating food that is rich in vitamins and calcium, along with mild exercise, can keep your bones and joints healthy. Here are a few of the foods that are beneficial for healthy joints and bones.

Milk or Milk Alternatives

Calcium is extremely important for building and maintaining strong bones, which in turn promotes healthy joint function. Milk or milk alternatives are the best sources of calcium. It is best to choose the non-fat or low-fat options; one cup of milk, whether it is whole or skim, contains over 300 milligrams of calcium, which is about 30 percent of recommended daily intake. If you are lactose intolerant, try almond or soy milk, which typically contains the same amount of calcium as regular milk.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

It is essential to understand the value of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for bone formation as well as the rate at which bone is broken down. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, it is also essential to include omega-6 acids into your diet. When your diet includes both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 acids, it helps to improve bone mineral density. The best way to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids is to eat fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines. Omega-6 acids are generally found in various vegetables, such as corn and corn oil.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens and kale are exceptionally high in vitamin C, selenium and calcium. Vitamin C is an important vitamin for the function and protection of cartilage, which provides support and cushioning for your major joints. Selenium has antioxidant properties, which protect your joints and bones against damage and it plays an essential role in the production of new cells.

Vitamin D

It is essential to include Vitamin D in your diet because it helps your body absorb calcium as well as maintain enough phosphate and calcium in your blood so that it doesn’t get pulled out of your bones. Vitamin D also promotes bone growth and the breaking down and building up of your bones. A low level of vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis and osteomalacia, which is responsible for producing an aching pain in your bones as the bones weaken. Low vitamin D can also cause muscle weakness, which may lead to falls and fractures as you age. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, but the fall and winter make it extremely difficult to get the recommended amount, so supplements are often recommended.

Along with eating a healthy diet consisting of food high in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, weight loss and exercise can help to reduce the strain on your joints. The optimum way to strengthen muscles and reduce the strain on your joints is with weight-bearing exercises, such as walking. Although exercise is beneficial for bone and joint health, it is important to keep in mind that running and other types of high-intensity exercise may damage ligaments and joints, which leads to pain, inflammation and eventually arthritis.