The Best Vitamins to Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is the body's natural response to infection, injury, and toxins, and while it can often be painful, it plays a vital role in your body's healing process by activating the immune system to begin repairing damaged cells. When left unchecked, though, chronic inflammation can injure your tissues, joints, and blood vessels. "Acute inflammation is how the body fights infections and is not something that should be of concern," explains registered dietitian Mia Syn. "But when chronic inflammation occurs, the immune system fights indefinitely."
Those who suffer from the latter may experience negative effects such as widespread pain, joint swelling, and skin irritation. The good news? Taking certain vitamins every day can actively help reduce acute and chronic inflammation, as well as improve your overall health. To better understand these supplements and their benefits, we spoke to leading nutritionists. Ahead, their insights and vitamin recommendations to fight inflammation daily.
Rich in fatty acids, fish oils are widely known for their heart health benefits, but you may not know is that they also play a key role in fighting inflammation and easing joint pain. "Fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce the production of cytokines, a group of proteins that trigger inflammation throughout the body," says Syn.
When it comes to omega-3 supplements, Amy Gorin, a plant-based registered dietitian and the owner of Plant-Based Eats, adds that it's important to choose trusted and responsibly-sourced products. "I'm a fan of NOW Ultra Omega-3, which provides 500 milligrams of EPA and 250 milligrams of DHA for optimal cardiovascular support and brain health. I trust this product because it's manufactured under strict quality standards, meaning it's tested to be void of potentially harmful levels of contaminants including mercury, other heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins," she explains. If you're looking for a plant-based source of EPA and DHA, opt for an algae-based supplement like Zenwise's vegan fish-oil alternative, she notes.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric and is often used in Ayurvedic medicine. This natural compound is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties and has been found to combat chronic inflammation, ease swelling in joints, and even reduce blood sugars in type 2 diabetes. However, since curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, it's best to choose a supplement that contains piperine—a substance in black pepper that increases the absorption of curcumin.
Shop Now: MegaFood Turmeric Strength for Whole Body, $24.16, amazon.com.
"Vitamin A is involved with immune function and cellular communication and is an antioxidant that can reverse cellular damage from oxidative stress," explains registered dietitian Nijya Saffo. Studies have shown that vitamin A is not only necessary for protecting your immune system, but it can also help with proper bone growth. Those deficient in vitamin A may be more susceptible to bone fractures and may take longer to recover from inflammation and infections.
Shop Now: NOW Supplements Vitamin A, $12.29, amazon.com.
Whenever you feel a cold coming on, chances are you turn to vitamin C for its immune-boosting properties, but this powerhouse ingredient should have a place in your routine far beyond the context of flu season. The powerful antioxidant works to neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage and inflammation, making it an essential vitamin for your overall health. Plus, maintaining a healthy immune system is paramount to keeping inflammation at bay. To get your daily dose of vitamin C, Saffo recommends Nature Made's Vitamin C caplets.
Shop Now: Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg Caplets with Rose Hips, $7.89, amazon.com.
Vitamin D helps regulate the production of inflammatory proteins in the body and is derived from fortified foods and sun exposure. Research shows that low levels of vitamin D have been linked to inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and immune-related disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Introducing vitamin D into your diet can help alleviate inflammation as well as maintain strong and healthy bones.
Shop Now: Nature Made D3, $10.23, amazon.com.
Vitamin E is another potent, antioxidant-rich vitamin. Much like vitamin A, vitamin E blocks inflammatory proteins and prevents the immune system from overreacting and causing an inflammatory response. Saffo recommends this Vitamin E supplement from Garden of Life that comes with the added benefits of probiotics and vitamins A, D, and K.
Shop Now: Garden of Life Vitamin E Supplement, $20.29, amazon.com.
Ginger has long been used in alternative and modern medicine alike to treat everything from nausea to arthritis. Its main active compound is Gingerol—a compound rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research shows that when ingested, this spicy root can reduce joint pain and stiffness in degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis. You can introduce ginger into your diet by way of teas and smoothies or opt for easy-to-take supplements, like this one from Nature's Bounty.
Shop Now: Nature's Bounty Ginger Root Pills, $8.99, amazon.com.
Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers; it gives them their spicy kick. Not only is capsaicin a popular ingredient in many spicy dishes, but it's also known for its pain-relieving properties. Science reflects that: Research shows that capsaicin works mainly by reducing substance P—a pain transmitter in your nerves—which can greatly reduce discomfort and tenderness in joints. Because of its analgesic effects, capsaicin is often recommended for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Shop Now: Nature's Way Cayenne Pepper, $8.56, amazon.com.
If you're a red wine lover, then chances are you've heard of resveratrol. This plant-based antioxidant is found in red wine, grapes, and peanuts and has shown to reduce inflammation and ease joint pain; it has also been linked to reducing the severity of certain inflammatory bowel diseases.
Shop Now: Reserveage Resveratrol 500 mg, $34.39, amazon.com.
Probiotics can help promote a healthy balance of "good bacteria" in the gut and can aid in everything from digestive health to immune function. Certain probiotics from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains may help improve the symptoms of certain inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and IBS. This probiotic from Seed contains 24 different strains to support full-body health.
Shop Now: Seed DS-01™ Daily Synbiotic, $49.99, seed.com.