Four Key Diet Tips for Healthy Joints

Posted on July 14, 2021

Four key diet tips for healthy joints

More than 10 million people in the UK have arthritis or other similar conditions that affect the joints.(1) While medication and physical therapy can ease the symptoms of arthritis, lifestyle changes can also help those suffering from arthritis – like regular light exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. What you eat can also make a difference – here are four diet recommendations.


Calcium contributes to normal muscle function and is needed for the maintenance of normal bones. Low calcium levels in the body can increase your risk of osteoporosis (the weakening of bones), which those with arthritis are also more vulnerable to. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt are rich in calcium, but make sure you opt for low fat options like skimmed and semi-skimmed milk. 

If you follow a non-dairy diet, check out the milk alternatives made from soya, rice and oats that are enriched with calcium so you don’t miss out on its benefits. Tofu, canned sardines and salmon are also good sources of calcium.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D contributes to normal blood calcium levels and contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and muscle function. The best way to get vitamin D is exposure of skin to the sun. However in autumn and winter this can be difficult and is recommended by the NHS that children over the age of 1 and adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should supplement with 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

Food sources of vitamin D, although in small amounts, include oily fish, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods like breakfast cereals and spreads. To get the most of the calcium going to the right places like the bones and teeth where it is needed, make sure to also eat foods rich in vitamin D or take a supplement. 


Some people who take anti-inflammatory arthritis medication may suffer from bleeding and stomach ulcers, which can lead to anaemia. Increasing your iron can help form healthy red blood cells and haemoglobin.  Lean red meat and oily fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel are rich in iron. So are pulses like lentils and dark green vegetables including spinach and kale. 

Iron absorption is improved by vitamin C, so pair your healthy meal with a glass of fruit juice or a side of fruit and veg to maximise the benefit of iron-rich foods.


Some people with inflammatory types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, find that omega-3 fatty acids can ease tender joints and stiffness. Free range eggs, flaxseeds and oily fish are rich in omega-3.  

Anchovies, salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and whitebait all contain high levels of omega-3, and it’s recommended that arthritis sufferers eat oily fish at least twice a week.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce morning stiffness, the number of tender joints and swollen joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.(2)


  1. NHS UK. (2018). Arthritis. Available: Last accessed 14th July 2021.
  2. Rajaei,E., Mowla, K. and Ghorbani, A. et al. (2016). The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Patients With Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving DMARDs Therapy: Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Glob J Health Sci. 8 (7), 18–25.