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Most medical experts agree that there’s no easy fix to treat or prevent gout, but eating a diet rich in vitamin C and the B-family of vitamins, particularly B6 and B12, can help reduce inflammation and flare-ups. Many care providers recommend a daily multivitamin supplement that contains high doses of these and other vitamins and minerals. Certain other supplements, particularly quercetin and calcium, are widely believed to be useful for gout patients, too, and ingesting regular doses of fish oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, can also help. In general, though, there is no “cure-all.” Gout patients are usually advised to drink a lot of water, get plenty of exercise, and eat a healthy, balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help, but usually work best as part of a more rigorous lifestyle plan.
Gout is a painful inflammatory condition that causes swelling and pressure in the joints of the foot and ankle, and is often most profound in the big toe. It’s caused by high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream that build up and basically get stuck in the joints. Uric acid isn’t problematic in and of itself, and in normal levels it’s really important to many of the body’s essential functions. It can cause problems when it accrues and compounds, though, and gout is one of the possible consequences.
Most doctors suggest that patients suffering from gout change their overall diet to help relieve the condition naturally. Some foods are rich in purines, compounds that contribute to the buildup of uric acid. Purines are natural substances that are present in all cells in the human body. When purines breakdown, though, uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in the blood stream. The uric acid adheres to joints and causes severe pain. Organ meats, dried beans, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, beef, and shellfish are just a few examples of high-purine containing foods, and minimizing or eliminating these can often help.
Incorporating foods like dark berries, fatty acids, and lean vegetable protein like soybeans can also relieve gout in many cases, or at least minimize its symptoms. Some scholars have suggested that the reason these foods help is because they’re high in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Sometimes taking supplements can get similar results, and a number of vitamins for gout can be helpful.
For most patients, the key to preventing gout and lowering the number of attacks is to reduce the amount of uric acid that flows in the bloodstream. A sustained-release vitamin C supplement with flavonoids can often help achieve this. Vitamin C is a vitamin that lowers the uric acid levels in the body naturally, usually by attaching to the acid and flushing it out in urine.
Most vitamins in the B family can also be useful. There are eight vitamins in this family, and though all are related and all can be useful, three stand when it comes to gout: vitamin B6, vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, and vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin. In high concentrations, these vitamins for gout can hinder the enzyme that transforms purines into uric acid.
Several other minerals and compounds play similar roles. Quercetin, which is a flavanol, is one example. This compound, found naturally in most fruits and vegetables but also available in some places as a stand-alone supplement, can hinder uric acid bonding, which in turn can limit accumulation in joints. Similarly, potassium citrate and calcium cam raise the body’s pH levels, which helps remove uric acid from the body.
Fish oil is a compound that is high in omega-3 fatty acid, and regular supplementation may be connected to a reduction in gout flare-ups. Omega-3s are known antioxidants. Some studies have suggested that people who regularly ingest the oil, typically in capsule form but sometimes also as a liquid, can calm inflammation and lessen joint pain, but relief usually depends on a sustained pattern of use. Once a person stops taking the supplements, he or she usually stops receiving any benefits.
Other Prevention Tips
Most experts agree that a healthy lifestyle is critical to treating gout, and in most cases the best approach is one that incorporates vitamins and minerals along with regular exercise and an overall healthy, lean, and high-fiber diet. Drinking more water and limiting alcohol consumption can also help decrease uric acid levels.