It’s often said you are what you eat. This piece of advice extends to your spine and its supporting parts, especially when it comes to vitamins and nutrients. If you’re not getting enough essential nutrients, however, you could end up with worsening or persistent spine-related pain. Fortunately, it’s never too late to make some adjustments to your diet to boost your odds of enjoying optimal spine health. Below, you’ll find a rundown of five of the top vitamins and nutrients needed to keep the spine healthy throughout the various stages of life.
Well-known for its bone health benefits, calcium helps your spine by strengthening spinal bones and joints. What this does is reduce the risk of fractures from age-related wear, added physical stress and strain, or underlying health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.
Common sources of calcium include:
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Beans, lentils, and nuts
- Canned salmon and sardines
- Vitamin D
In addition to helping with the absorption of calcium, vitamin D keeps your spine healthy by maintaining bone strength. It also helps strengthen the immune system, which benefits your spine by reducing issues with inflammation.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include:
- Milk and eggs
- Fatty fish
- Orange juice, certain cereals, and other fortified foods
Magnesium is a mineral that also helps with bone strength and density. It also helps soft tissues around the spine effectively relax and contract. You could benefit from more efficient muscle relaxation and contraction by having fewer issues with painful muscle spasms that could affect your spine when triggered by stiff or over-stressed muscles.
Magnesium levels can be increased naturally with a diet that includes:
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, and seeds
- Whole grains
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Primarily found in greater abundance in plant oils, omega-3 fatty acids help keep inflammation in check. This is good for your spine since tissue swelling is a common reason for spine-related discomfort that stems from irritated nerves.
In addition to plant oils, omega-3s can be found in:
- Flax and chia seeds
- Walnuts and soybeans
- Mackerel, tuna, salmon, lake trout, and other fish
Phosphorus also helps calcium work well when it comes to keeping spinal bones healthy. Additionally, this mineral plays a role in new bone tissue growth, muscle contraction, and maintaining optimal bone density.
Phosphorus can be added to your diet with any of the following foods:
- Whole grains
- Chicken, pork, turkey, and organ meats
- Seafood that includes carp, sardines, crab, and salmon
- Low-fat dairy products
While it’s generally preferable to get most of the nutrients you need for a healthy spine from the foods you eat regularly, there are times when this isn’t possible. If you’re unable to maintain or achieve the recommended balance with any of the vitamins and nutrients mentioned here, talk to your doctor about supplements that may be appropriate for you.