7 Daily Vitamins & Supplements That Can Help Reduce Inflammation
There are lots of things you can do to help reduce inflammation, including taking a few key vitamins and supplements. While you'll always want to check with your doctor first, adding things like fish oil or turmeric to your daily routine can be beneficial. But it really does need to be part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Inflammation, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing, of course. It's a natural process that occurs whenever the body needs to heal wounds or fight infections. But it can get out of control if you aren't sleeping enough, eating good foods, managing your stress, or exercising.
You don't necessarily need to make any drastic changes, though, in order to keep inflammation in check. For example, "as little as 20 minutes of exercise is enough to reduce the body’s inflammatory process," Dr. Lindsey Elmore, tells Bustle. You can also add in a few nutritious foods as part of an anti-inflammatory diet, including "fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, healthy oils (like olive and avocado), and lean protein sources," Liz Weinandy, MPH, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle.
These habits can help your body reduce inflammation, which can in turn keep you healthy. But experts say the vitamins and supplements listed below can be beneficial, too, if you need an extra boost.
"Magnesium is your body’s 'off switch,'" functional medicine practitioner Dr. Anthony Gustin, tells Bustle. "Acute inflammation’s job is to heal an injury and/or remove foreign substances from the body. Once the mission is accomplished, it’s magnesium’s job to tell the body to stop the inflammation process."
If you aren't getting enough magnesium from your daily diet, a supplement can help. "Magnesium is found readily in seeds, nuts, and beans," Dr. Gustin says. "It’s also found in leafy green vegetables. But if you’re deficient you’re going to need more magnesium, which is where supplementing can make sense."
But remember, you'll want to check with your doctor before taking anything new.
"This spice has really gained popularity over the years [...] and for good reason," Weinandy says. "It has strong anti-inflammatory properties thanks to several dozen compounds — like curcumin, for example — that have been found to ease pain and symptoms in many diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease [and] arthritis."
You can easily add turmeric into recipes while you're cooking, Weinandy, which will provide the biggest health benefits. But supplements are also available, if your doctor recommends those to help reduce inflammation.
"Like turmeric, ginger contains chemicals that help to ease inflammation," Weinandy says. "It is thought to work mostly in the stomach and intestines but it may affect the brain and nervous system as well."
To make it easy on yourself, "try grating fresh ginger and making a tea or adding to any number of foods," she says. Or looking for a supplement in your local health food store.
4. Omega-3 Fish Oil
"Fish oil works by inhibiting the production of something called 'arachidonic acid,' which gets converted into inflammatory signals that get sent throughout your body, causing pain," functional medicine practitioner Elroy Vojdani MD, IFMCP, tells Bustle. Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements into your daily routine can help reduce inflammation, but you'll want to check with your doctor and ask about the proper dose.
You may also want to do some research into MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, especially if you're having joint pain. As Dr. Elmore says, "MSM is a sulfur donor that helps you build glutathione. Glutathione is a a potent antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation."
It can be found in supplement form, and some studies have shown that taking it can be helpful when it comes to reducing joint pain caused by inflammation.
Lycopene, which is a pigment found in red fruits like tomatoes, can help reduce inflammation.
"Lycopene works synergistically when it's combined with carnosic acid (a rosemary based extract) but it can also be helpful on its own," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Amanda Doyle, tells Bustle. "It’s been shown to reduce the damaging effects of sun damage by suppressing part of the inflammatory pathway that is triggered by sun exposure."
Some experts recommend it as part of a sun protection routine, Dr. Doyle says, which obviously includes wearing sunscreen. "[Lycopene] is best taken as a daily supplement," she says.
"Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red fruits like grapes and blueberries," Dr. Elmore says. "It may reduce inflammation in people with liver disease, cardiovascular disease, [and] ulcerative colitis." So depending on what types of health issues you have, this supplement could really come in handy.
Of course, you can get it right from the source in whole food form, such as those aforementioned blueberries. But supplements do exist for folks who need a little more. Just be sure to ask your doctor before taking anything new, so you can be sure it will a) be helpful and b) won't interact with anything else you're taking.
There are lots of ways to reduce inflammation, and certain vitamins and supplements have been shown to help. But remember it's all about your overall lifestyle, and doing things to keep yourself well.