Best Supplements for Joint Health

Like many of us, you may be feeling the negative effects of cancelled chiropractic and massage appointments, along with missed workouts at the gym. Frequent joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation can become a common part of our days as we continue to be distant from our regular routines, work from home, and have few options for relief. As we respect physical distancing measures, it is crucial to find ways to support our bodies and our quality of life.

 

Establishing an in-home exercise routine, daily stretching, and incorporating outdoor walks or runs are ways to support bone, joint, and muscle health during this time. Foam rollers or electric massage devices can provide some relief to joint and muscle tension. You might also consider the benefits of natural health products to support healthy joints as research has shown that a number of supplements help reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) are well-known support nutrients for long-term joint health. Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, a major component of cartilage (the cushion between the joints). Long-term treatment with glucosamine has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve joint mobility, and reduce the progression of osteoarthritis. [1]

Similar to glucosamine, chondroitin is an important part of cartilage, and has been shown to reduce the activity of enzymes that break down collagen in joints. Chondroitin has also been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease joint pain, and improve joint function. MSM provides an organic source of sulphur, which is essential for connective tissue health, and acts as an analgesic to reduce joint pain.

Supplementation with the combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM can support joint health by improving joint lubrication, reducing pain and inflammation, and protecting against cartilage deterioration.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), are important for overall health, including joint care. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and there is modest but consistent evidence that omega-3 from fish oil can help improve joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness, and disease activity. [2]

Research has shown that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis when used in conjunction with conventional therapy. [3] Although the body cannot make these key nutrients, they can be obtained from a variety of food sources including cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, halibut, and anchovies, as well as plant-sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

Omega-3 supplements offer a convenient way to get these important nutrients. When purchasing these supplements, make sure to look for ones that are sourced from short-lived fish such as anchovies and sardines, contain standardized levels of EPA and DHA, and are rigorously tested for purity and contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins.

Turmeric

For nearly 4000 years, turmeric has been used as a culinary spice and for its medicinal properties. Turmeric contains phytochemical compounds, most notably curcumin, which provides turmeric with its signature yellow colour. When it comes to joint health, research has shown that curcumin has the ability to block inflammation and pain pathways.

As a natural antioxidant, curcumin also protects against tissue damage. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and large amounts must be ingested to provide a therapeutic benefit. It is therefore important to choose supplements that provide highly absorbable forms of curcumin such as Theracurmin®. Theracurmin provides microscopic curcumin particles (in a natural colloidal suspension), so it is absorbed in the blood faster and there longer.

Theracurmin has been shown to support a healthy inflammatory response, improve joint function, and reduce arthritic joint pain. In one trial, taking Theracurmin for 4 weeks with and without exercise appeared to be effective in reducing pain and enhancing muscular and balancing function in patients with osteoarthritis. [4]

Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM)

NEM contains naturally occurring collagen, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and other glycosaminoglycans, which are building blocks for cartilage and connective tissue repair. Clinical trials investigating NEM have shown it helps relieve joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. In one randomized, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients either received NEM or a placebo for 8 weeks. [5]

Supplementation with 500 mg of NEM once per day significantly reduced both joint pain and stiffness compared to a placebo at 10, 30, and 60 days. NEM is an effective and safe option for the treatment of pain and stiffness associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and the main component of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, skin, and teeth. Unfortunately, after the age of 30, we naturally produce less collagen, leading to hair loss and thinning, brittle nails, skin wrinkles, and joint degeneration.

Supporting collagen production is a very important step in maintaining our joints and bones. Using hydrolyzed collagen supplements has been shown to support joint health and relieve joint pain. In a 24-week study, supplemental collagen was shown to improve joint pain in athletes and possibly reduce the risk of joint deterioration. [6]

In addition to hydrolyzed collagen supplements, consuming protein-rich foods, bone broth, and foods high in vitamin C, such as berries and oranges, are key to supporting collagen production.

As we face the days ahead and deal with the number of changes that are taking place, remember to care for your body. Healthy food choices, regular movement and stretching, and nutrients that support your body will help you cope during this difficult time.

 

 

References

  1. Jerosch J. Effects of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on cartilage metabolism in OA: Outlook on other nutrient partners especially omega-3 fatty acids. Int J Rheumatol.
  2. Miles EA, Calder PC. Influence of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on immune function and a systematic review of their effects on clinical outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis. Br J Nutr. 2012; 107 Suppl 2:S171-S184.
  3. Rajaei E, Mowla K, Ghorbani A, et al. The effect of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis receiving DMARDs therapy: double-blind randomized controlled trial. Glob J Health Sci. 2015; 8(7):18-25.
  4. Shin YA, Suk MH, Jang HS, et al. Short-term effects of Theracurmin dose and exercise type on pain, walking ability, and muscle function in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Exerc Rehabil. 2017; 13(6):684-692.
  5. Ruff KJ, Winkler A, Jackson RW, et al. Eggshell membrane in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clin Rheumatol. 2009; 28(8):907-914.
  6. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, et al. 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008; 24(5):1485-1496.