Most of us think of nutrient deficiencies only in third world countries. The reality is, they affect developed countries such as the United States as well. Although not usually life-threatening, they do threaten our quality of life.
This nutrient depletion is brought on by processed foods, modern farming practices, poor food choices, and prescription medications. Over time, the lack of nutrients (or your bodies inability to absorb those nutrients), leads to a break down of body processes and healing, resulting in a variety of pain related illnesses.
Multiple scientific research studies have explored the link between nutritional deficiencies and chronic pain. While I’m not saying chronic pain is caused by nutrition, I feel we must acknowledge the connection. In doing so, we can explore how improving these deficiencies are part of a holistic approach to healing.
Let's look at some key pain alleviating nutrients you may be missing.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiencies are most common because the form our body best absorbs comes from the sun. It is not often found in foods. Insufficient vitamin D impairs the absorption of calcium leading to the body pulling calcium from the bones - weakening bones, joints, and even muscles. Common symptoms of deficiency are chronic pain, fatigue, and muscle aches.
The best way to increase your levels is to spend 20-30 minutes a day in the sun. If you live in a climate that this isn’t possible, discuss supplementation with your physician.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, is important in the production of collagen. This is a key component in tendons, ligaments, and bones. A deficiency in vitamin C can cause weakening of the connective tissues that form your joints, leading to joint pain and swelling.
To increase vitamin C and aid in the repair of injured tissues, load up on fruits and vegetables. The best sources are leafy greens, strawberries, and red peppers.
3. Vitamin E
Studies show vitamin E to be both anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It has long been known to benefit the musculoskeletal system. During physical activity, it decreases muscle fatigue by promoting blood circulation and nourishing your cells.
Find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ, butternut squash, mangoes, and avocados.
4. B Vitamins
The different B vitamins play a role in the function of muscles, joints, and nerves. A 1996 study found vitamin B3 (niacin) relieves osteoarthritis discomfort, resulting in improved joint flexibility, reduced inflammation and a reduction in medication use. Vitamin B12 can help relieve nerve pain that presents with tingling and shooting types of discomfort.
Our bodies require a variety of B vitamins that are readily available in whole foods such as meat, fish, dairy, dark leafy greens, almonds, mushrooms, beans, and eggs.
We've all heard calcium is important for maintaining strong bones. It also assists in controlling muscle and nerve function. Signs of severely low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Dark leafy greens are a rich source of calcium. Additional sources include kefir, sardines, and almonds. I avoid relying on dairy products as a calcium source due to high rates of intolerance and allergies.
Magnesium is required for our bodies to use protein, energy production, muscle, and nerve production, as well as blood pressure regulation. Despite its importance, most Americans are deficient! This mineral is used to treat migraine headaches and may also be useful in treating fibromyalgia.
Magnesium rich food sources include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocados and bananas. In addition, Epsom salt baths and supplementation can boost magnesium levels.
7. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential type of fat that is used in many of the bodies processes and essential for optimal health. They help reduce inflammation in muscles, joints, and autoimmune conditions, relieving chronic pain. In addition, they stimulate the development of cartilage for joint repair, increase mineral absorption, and have been effective for treating migraines, back pain, and arthritis.
We find Omega 3 fatty acids in halibut, salmon, sardines, eggs, walnuts, and cauliflower. However, according to studies, higher doses may be needed for pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits. In this case, adding a quality supplement can be beneficial.
What if by making a few adjustments in your diet you could decrease inflammation, ease up your joint pain, and feel more vibrant than you've felt in years?
A few changes in your diet could set yourself up for success. You could see an improvement in your digestive health, better absorption of nutrients from food and supplements, and less reliance on medications.
It may not happen overnight, but nutrition is an effective way to change your health, resolve pain and lose weight. I guarantee those were New Year's resolutions on the top of many lists!
Want to know more about getting these nutrients into your diet - meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, supplement recommendations? Request a FREE discovery visit with our Wellness Coach to find out how an individual or group program could help you reach your goals. Click the link below to request your FREE session.