Study: Antioxidants (May) Slow Arthritis

Craig Stoltz Health Guide
  • A new study suggests that antioxidants-- those heavily publicized vitamins often touted to prevent, treat or cure all sorts of medical conditions--can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee. Before you reach for the big bottle of antioxidant pills, let's take a closer look.


    Bottom line first

    Eating fruit could possibly help slow the development of knee arthritis in adults who don't have the disease.


    This study in 50 words or less

    Australian researchers looking at about 300 healthy adults compared dietary patterns to changes in the bone and cartilage of the knee that often precede osteoarthritis. Joints stayed healthier longer in people who ate more fruit high in some antioxidants, particularly vitamin C.

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    But wait. . .

    • The study looked at dietary intake at only one point in time, drawing on self-reported questionnaires. The knee MRIs came about 10 years later. This kind of study is not nearly as powerful as the type where researchers track diet closely over time and do measurements along the way.
    • The data on antioxidants was based on diet only; researchers don't know if subjects had been taking antioxidant pills.


    So what are you going to do about it?

    • You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: Eat your fruits and veggies. (While vegetable consumption wasn't linked to any of the benefits in this study, other studies have found diets rich in nutrients from both fruits and vegetables are tied to better joint or bone health.)
    • There would certainly be no harm for healthy adults concerned with osteoarthritis to add one more serving of fruit to their diets daily. But the researchers point out that more rigorous studies need to be conducted in order to confirm the fruit/knee health link.
    • DON'T start taking vitamin C or other antioxidants in supplement form. Several recent studies have suggested a link between high intake of some antioxidant dietary supplements with a variety of negative outcomes. If you're thinking of adding antioxidant supplements to your regimen, talk to your doctor first.


    Learn more

    Our site has an excellent video on using exercise to slow the development of osteoarthritis.


    Our nutrition expert Heather Reese provides excellent information on the role a healthy diet and weight loss play in managing the condition.


    You can also learn more about the role of antioxidants in disease risk and prevention.

Published On: July 22, 2007