5 Nutrients That Nourish Your Knees

Noyes Knee Institute Signature

Published On

Jul 26, 2016



If you’re an athlete or if osteoporosis runs in your family, you want to do all you can to prevent knee injury. In a previous article, we talked about a new training program that helps athletes prevent knee injury. The training involves plyometric training, strength training, agility drills, and flexibility exercises.

But exercise and training aren’t the only ways to strengthen your knees. Eating a nutritious diet can also help strengthen muscles and joints and help you avoid swelling and pain.

To protect your body from knee pain, look for foods that supply these important nutrients.

1. Calcium

You’ve probably watched enough “Got Milk?” commercials to know that calcium strengthens bones. The stronger your knee bones, the more likely you’ll avoid injury. Plus, strong bones keep osteoporosis away. Osteoporosis is a disease of poor bone quality, which increases the risk of fracture.

Calcium also helps your muscles contract, which they need to do often during athletic activity. Good food sources of calcium include:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tofu
  • White beans
  • Almonds
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Turnip greens
  • Chinese cabbage

Adding a bit of calcium to your diet is easy. Add cheese to your sandwich, sprinkle almonds in your yogurt, or try salmon with your salad. Avoid excessive salt, caffeine, and alcohol, which can decrease calcium’s positive effects in your body.

2. Vitamin D

While calcium increases your bone strength, Vitamin D can help calcium do its work. It helps your body absorb calcium and assists in muscle strength and development.

You can increase vitamin D in your diet by eating more:

  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

The best source of vitamin D, though, is the sun. Spend some time outdoors each day so your body can absorb this important nutrient. If you’re worried you’re not getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a crucial nutrient for many parts of your body, and your bones are no exception. Vitamin C helps the body create collagen, an important protein that makes up bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.

Foods containing vitamin C include:

  • Red and green peppers
  • Guava
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Brussels sprouts

Adult women need 75 mg of vitamin C per day, and adult men need 90 mg per day.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids to maintain heart health, metabolic health, and immune system health. These fatty acids help your knees because they can lower inflammation and swelling, reducing joint pain. They may also improve bone mineral density and even promote faster muscle recovery.

You can find omega-3 fatty acids in:

  • Fish
  • Flaxseeds
  • Olive oil
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli

Fish contain two important kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, called EPA and DHA. Nuts and seeds have another type, called ALA. If you don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids, your doctor may recommend that you take a supplement.

5. Protein

Protein is an important building block of muscle, so if you want to strengthen your knee muscles, you need to get enough protein. In fact, protein should make up between 10 and 35 percent of your total calorie intake.

You can get protein from:

  • Lean meat
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Nuts

For powerful knees, combine a protein-rich diet with strength training exercises like lunges and squats.


If you want to prevent knee pain and injury, exercising is important. But just as important is a healthy diet, rich in nutrients that support your bone and muscle health. If you do injure your knee, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Noyes is happy to help.

Support your knee health with these nutrients, and keep reading our blog for more tips on knee injuries and knee health.