Supplements and Inflammation

Research has shown that people with RA have low levels of selenium, a mineral found in whole-grain wheat products and shellfish such as oysters and crab. It contains antioxidants, which are believed to help control inflammation. It may also increase the risk of developing diabetes, so talk with your doctor before taking selenium supplements.

Vitamin D, usually associated with calcium and protection against osteoporosis, may also help lower the risk of RA in older women by helping to regulate the immune system. Good sources of vitamin D include eggs, fortified breads, cereals and low-fat milk.  

Can Food Cause Inflammation?

While some foods seem to ease inflammation, compounds in others have been found to increase it. Eating hamburgers, chicken or other meats that have been grilled or fried at high temperature can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the blood. Although no direct correlation between AGEs and arthritis has been identified, high levels of AGEs have been detected in people with inflammation.

Another culprit that may boost inflammation is omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and cottonseed oils, many snack and fried foods, margarine, egg yolks and meats. Consuming more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s raises your risk of joint inflammation and obesity. Keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand to help you avoid processed snacks that often contain omega-6 fatty acids.

As a result of menopause or steroid treatment, some people with RA may not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. The most common deficiencies are in folic acid, vitamins C, D, B6, B12 and E, calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Nutritionists agree that most nutrients should come from your food, rather than from supplements. However, a supplement may be necessary if you suffer from malnutrition. Again, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

The bottom line when considering nutrition and RA is to maintain healthy, well-balanced diet. One way to achieve this is to consider adopting a Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the benefits of olive oil – even a glass of red wine if your doctor allows.