After knee replacement surgery, it’s important to maintain your joint health. Getting the right nutrients, whether through your diet or supplements, may help.

In this article, find out how avoiding some vitamins and taking others may help.

The best way to get the nutrients you need is to eat whole foods that are rich in the vitamins and other nutrients you need. If you can’t get enough of the vitamins in your diet alone, supplements may help.

Vitamins and supplements can play a role in helping you heal, but it’s important to check with your doctor whether each supplement is suitable for you.

Some supplements can have adverse effects, and they may interact with other drugs.

Immediately after surgery and while taking blood thinners, it’s best to be mindful of your intake of foods that are high in vitamin K, such as:

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • liver
  • green beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • lentils
  • soybeans
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • onions

Vitamin K enhances blood clotting. This can be useful for preventing bleeding, but keeping vitamin K amounts consistent after knee surgery is important. Particularly because there is a higher risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. Try not to overdo your intake.

If you use blood thinners, ask your doctor how much of these vegetables you should eat, as it is important for providing the correct dose of your blood thinner.

Your doctor may suggest that you supplement your diet with vitamin C and zinc. These two substances may help maintain your immune system. A healthy immune system is crucial while your wound is healing.

There is some evidence that vitamin C may help prevent inflammation and joint damage in a natural knee and for those with knee replacement. Alongside other measures, additional vitamins could help prevent the need to replace the other knee.

However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health. It helps increase bone density by promoting the absorption of calcium.

You can get vitamin D in three ways:

  • eating oily fish, mushrooms, dairy products, and fortified foods
  • receiving 5–30 minutes of sun exposure during peak daylight hours
  • taking a supplement

If your vitamin D levels are low in a blood test, supplementing is your best option for increasing levels, particularly if you do not get in the sun daily. Although you can get some vitamin D from food sources, the amounts are fairly low as the sun is the best natural source.

Some researchers have suggested that vitamin D may help prevent osteoarthritis from progressing in a natural knee. The author of a 2019 review did not find any evidence to confirm this. However, it has been concluded that adequate vitamin D levels decreased complications as well as joint infections post knee surgery.

Additionally, they concluded that vitamin D may help relieve joint pain in people who have low levels of this nutrient.

Anecdotal reports claim that vitamin E — particularly vitamin E oil — can aid in wound healing and decrease scar formation.

Some doctors recommend applying the oil to your closed wound three times per day after removing your stitches.

However, researchers have not found evidence to support these claims, and some suggest vitamin E may worsen the appearance of scars. Scientists have called for more robust research.

Ask your doctor before using vitamin E. Taking Vitamin E orally should be avoided at least 2 weeks prior to surgery as it can increase the risk of bleeding according to the Mayo Clinic.

Your surgeon will likely prescribe iron after surgery. This is to replenish iron in your blood that was lost during the operation.

Expect to take the supplements for about 4 weeks.

Iron helps your blood’s clotting mechanism and helps you avoid anemia.

Iron supplements can lead to constipation. Get some tips on managing constipation after surgery.

A variety of herbal supplements may help your body heal after knee replacement surgery.

Green tea and rosehip tea have antioxidant properties and may promote wound healing.

Witch hazel or chickweed, applied topically, may reduce bruising after the incision has healed.

Echinacea and bromelain reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Arnica may reduce bruising.

Many of these supplements are said to reduce inflammation and swelling or fight infections and promote wound healing. However, there’s no conclusive evidence that these substances provide any benefit.

Other non-herbal supplements and substances may aid in healing, including fighting infection and rebuilding tissue.

These include:

  • coenzyme Q10
  • essential fatty acids
  • free-form amino acids
  • L-lysine
  • L-cysteine
  • L-glutamine
  • MSM
  • pycnogenol

People take each one for different reasons. It’s essential to research claims about any products and check with your doctor that they are safe to use.

All these substances are available through a balanced diet. If you follow a healthy diet, you may not need to take any dietary supplements. However, keep in mind that surgery increases your need for certain vitamins and minerals, and supplementation may be necessary for some people.

If you do decide to use supplements, note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements and herbs as they do drugs.

This means you cannot be sure that the product you are getting is effective for your needs, that it is pure, or how much of the active ingredient it contains.

Supplement manufacturers sometimes make claims that have not been proven. Look for supplements that have been third party tested and are pharmaceutical or professional grade to ensure quality.

You and your doctor should discuss possible supplements while mapping out an overall strategy for helping your knee heal and stay healthy.

Always tell your doctor about any substances you are taking. There may be a risk of adverse effects or interaction.