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Best vitamins and supplements for inflammation relief

Reviewed by Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

Chronic inflammation disrupts daily life with constant aches and pains and other troubling symptoms, and in the long run, may increase your risk of health problems like autoimmune issues, heart disease and cancer. So, how do you get rid of it? The good news is that potent anti-inflammatory relief is at your fingertips in the form of vitamins, minerals and other natural compounds that can stop inflammation in its tracks.

What is chronic inflammation?

You’ve likely experienced acute inflammation with the heat of a fever, the swelling of an injured knee and the redness of a newly formed cut. This healthy inflammation is an immune response that’s triggered when your body is injured, exposed to chemicals and toxins, or invaded by bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Acute inflammation is a necessary function of the body, but this responsive process is only meant to be a short burst of powerful destruction. Once the trauma goes away, inflammatory cells and molecules are supposed to recede so the healing process can begin.

When inflammation doesn’t turn off like it should, it turns into harmful chronic inflammation which can last for weeks, months or years. Chronic inflammation is damaging because it acts like a slow-burning fire, continuing to stimulate pro-inflammatory immune cells that can begin to attack healthy areas of your body.

Chronic inflammation can occur everywhere in the body, and plenty of research indicates that it is a common trigger for and contributor to multiple chronic diseases. For example, excess immune cells and their signaling molecules circulating in your system can damage blood vessel linings (atherosclerosis), pancreatic tissue (diabetes) and joint tissue (arthritis).

What causes chronic inflammation?

The underlying causes of chronic inflammation are complex: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, genetic tendencies, over-exposure to toxins, emotional trauma and chronic stress all contribute to inflammation dysregulation. Women may have one overwhelming factor contributing to their chronic inflammation, such as chronic stress, or have an interplay of multiple factors.

Studies have demonstrated that women with chronic inflammation have increased levels of certain pro-inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), IFN-gamma, IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-alpha. 

Symptoms of chronic inflammation

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Congestion
  • Dry eyes
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin problems
  • Gum disease
  • Stubborn weight gain

Best vitamins and supplements for chronic inflammation

Fortunately, nature provides us with a wonderful “toolbox” of vitamins, herbs and other natural compounds that can help combat inflammation and promote overall well-being.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) help reduce the over-production of inflammatory molecules in the body, helping to rebalance the inflammation response. When the cells get enough Omega-3s, metabolites of the fatty acids turn on a healing response that helps the tissue or cell repair any damage caused by inflammation. Incorporating Omega-3s into your diet can be as simple as consuming fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines twice a week. Alternatively, high-quality fish oil supplements can provide a convenient and concentrated source of Omega-3s.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin, a compound found in the spice turmeric, helps modulate the body’s inflammatory response by inhibiting pro-inflammatory molecules. Studies have shown that curcumin can be helpful for reducing symptoms related to IBD, arthritis, psoriasis, depression and atherosclerosis and other inflammation-related diseases and health disorders. Incorporating turmeric into your diet or taking curcumin supplements can help manage chronic inflammation. Combining curcumin with black pepper or piperine enhances its absorption and effectiveness.

Green Tea Extract

Special antioxidants call catechins help inhibit the activity of certain inflammatory enzymes, providing protection against chronic inflammation. Green tea contains high levels of EGCG, the most powerful type of catechin, making green tea a potent form of protection against inflammation. Regular consumption of green tea or green tea extract can contribute to overall wellness and combat inflammation. Our exclusive Super C Plus supplement contains both curcumin and green tea extract.

Ginger

Ginger has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries, but now modern medicine is tapping into the power of this root for its anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2022 review study published in the journal Molecules, researchers now believe there is enough evidence to prove that ginger possesses multiple active compounds that reduce inflammation. Ginger may be especially helpful for people with arthritis. Add ginger to foods for a warm and spicy kick or make sipping a mug of fresh brewed ginger tea part of your daily routine!

Boswellia (Indian Frankincense)

Frankincense, an aromatic resin derived from the Boswellia tree, has been a go-to in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. We now know that Boswellia/frankincense contains active compounds that inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body. Frankincense or Boswellia supplements may be especially beneficial for people dealing with arthritis and asthma. Consult with a healthcare professional for proper dosage and usage guidelines.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has potent anti-inflammatory properties, including the ability to aid in reduction of pro-inflammatory mediators and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D may also help decrease C-reactive protein (CRP). Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased inflammation, so if you have low levels of the vitamin, supplementation with Vitamin D may help you get a jump start on inflammation relief.

Probiotics

Probiotics help improve gut health, but these beneficial bacteria also have a profound impact on inflammation by reducing common biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP), and reducing risk for dangerous cytokine storms. Probiotic-rich foods include lacto-fermented vegetables, yogurt and kombucha. Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can ensure you get enough of these “good bugs” every day.

Our tips and recommendations on how to reduce chronic inflammation – naturally! 

Adjust your response to stress

Inflammation is also triggered in response to stress and anxiety. The body interprets these emotions as internal invaders no matter what their cause and releases inflammatory markers everywhere throughout the body to head off impending danger.

The more stress in your life, the more likely it is you’re headed towards an inflamed state. For relief, consider starting a meditation program or try journaling every night — both help release stress. The options for stress reduction are endless, so if the first one you try doesn’t seem right for you, move on to others until you find the one that does.

Cut out the chemicals 

Exposure to pesticides and preservatives causes inflammation by invading cells and destroying tissue. Our gut flora, which acts as another sort of immune system is also greatly affected by these chemicals. Repeated exposure kills off this crucial line of defense, leading to further tissue death and inflammation.

Be especially careful with cleaning products. There are many natural “green” options for cleaners that are effective and much less toxic to you and your family. Read labels carefully when it comes to cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal care products. Avoid phthalates and parabens whenever possible.

You can also reduce your chemical exposure with better food choices. Try to eat seasonal, local and, especially, organic as often as you can, and wash your vegetables well when you can’t. Stick to homemade food instead of highly processed foods that come in plastic containers.

Enjoy being active

Regular exercise reduces inflammation very effectively by improving circulation and lymphatic flow, and reducing body fat. You can do any type of exercise as long as it gets your heart pumping. Set a goal to work out for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week and work up to it bit by bit.

Keeping a healthy weight is so important to put inflammation in its place. When the body is under metabolic stress, as it is with obesity, fat cells can help initiate an inflammatory reaction and actively block weight loss. This happens because fat cells can act like immune cells by releasing cytokines, which push immune cells to initiate an inflammatory reaction.

Make sleep a true priority 

If I had to choose one good thing to tell my patients to do for themselves, it’s to prioritize developing a sleep schedule, and then follow it closely. Sleep is the time when your body is able to heal from the physical and emotional traumas of the day. Interrupted, poor quality sleep cuts sharply into that healing time.

It’s tempting to stay up to work or catch up on social media. Be good to yourself and go to bed at a reasonable hour, and keep the room cool, dark and comfortable. Remove the television and phone from the bedroom, and allow yourself time to settle down and just be still. If you have trouble sleeping, consider supplementing with melatonin, a natural sleep hormone that helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Melatonin is also anti-inflammatory!

Remember, you don’t have to make all of these changes at once. Pick one to get started and when it becomes part of your routine, choose another to add. Stacking up good habits is like taking a fire hose to the flames of chronic inflammation. You will feel better in the short-term, but it’s also an important step towards protecting your health for the long run.

Last Updated: November 17, 2023
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