Research over the years has pointed to certain vitamins with anti-inflammatory compounds. These vitamins can be acquired in supplement form and by eating foods that naturally contain them.
Here is a list of six vitamins that possess anti-inflammatory properties and the foods that are rich sources of them.
Studies have found that vitamin A can keep the immune system from being overactive and causing inflammation.1 Vitamin A is available in two forms: Beta-carotene is a provitamin that is converted into vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals. Diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A can help to reduce inflammation.
Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, dandelion, kale, collard greens, spinach, and a wide variety of leafy vegetables.
People with low vitamin B6 will often have high levels of C-reactive protein, another compound responsible for inflammation, especially in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.2
To reduce inflammation and increase vitamin B6, try consuming foods high in B vitamins, including kale, bell peppers, mushrooms, cantaloupe, tuna, and poultry.
One study found even low doses of folic acid (also known as folate, another B vitamin) supplementation taken daily and for short periods may reduce inflammation.3
Food sources of folate include black-eyed peas, dark leafy greens, asparagus, and liver.
Vitamin C is known for helping keep the immune system healthy and functioning well. Moreover, research shows vitamin C can get rid of free radicals responsible for causing inflammation.4
To get more vitamin C from your diet, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which are also loaded with antioxidants that can improve health and potentially lower risk for heart disease and cancers.
According to one report from Food & Nutrition Research, up to 41.6% of Americans are vitamin D deficient.5 Studies have long-established a connection between low vitamin D and a variety of inflammatory diseases. Further, researchers know that improving vitamin D can help reduce inflammation in the body.6
Another report published in The Journal of Immunology suggests specific molecular and signaling events are responsible for vitamin D’s ability to inhibit inflammation. Moreover, people with low levels of vitamin D can definitely benefit from vitamin D supplementation.7
Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body after exposure to the sun, but not everyone can get all their vitamin D this way. Anyone who suspects their vitamin D levels are low should talk to their healthare provider about testing and supplementation.
The best food sources of vitamin D are fish, egg yolks, organ meats, and foods supplemented with vitamin D, including milk.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant vitamin, which means it can reduce inflammation. Results from a 2015 meta-analysis reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirm vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties and supplementation can be helpful to people living with inflammatory conditions.8
Vitamin E is naturally found in nuts and seeds, including almonds and sunflower seeds. Many fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamin E, including avocado and spinach.
One report in the journal Metabolism found that vitamin K can reduce inflammatory markers, help with blood clotting, and protect bone health.8 While vitamin K is necessary for bone health, most people do not get enough of it from their diets.
Adult men should aim to take in 120 micrograms (mcg) daily of vitamin K, while women should aim for 90 mcg. The daily recommended numbers are lower for children and infants.9
There are two types of vitamin K: Vitamin K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage, whereas K2 is found in chicken, liver, and eggs.
A Word From Verywell
Inflammation-fighting vitamins can be acquired from a variety of food sources, including vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish, and vitamin-fortified foods.
Even in supplement form, these vitamins can reduce inflammation without harsh side effects and may be a viable option to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and prescription anti-inflammatory medicines.10
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any vitamin supplement. It’s also important to note that vitamin supplements are not a substitute for medication.
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