My Top 7 Supplements for Joint Health
Joint health is something that few of us give much thought to until things start to go wrong. Good exercise technique and correcting any structural imbalances are important, but nutrition can play an important role in supporting joint health too.
Cartilage is the main connective tissue that we tend to focus on for joint health. This is found on the end of bones that join together – cushioning and protecting them from friction, as well as providing shock absorption.https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-differences-between-bone-cartilage-and-joints
Cartilage is made up of specialised cells called chondrocytes, which produce an extra cellular matrix made up of collagen proteins, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).
Lacking blood vessels, these tissues don’t get the same blood supply to provide nutrients and healing components as other tissues in the body – hence they have a long, slow healing time when damaged.
Cartilage can be prone to wear and tear over the years, and if cartilage gets worn away osteoarthritis can result. Friction of bone against bone can lead to inflammation and pain, the development of bone spurs and restriction in movement.
Factors, such as genetics, excessive weight, injury, muscle imbalances, and the body’s ability to repair cartilage can all play a role in the development of this condition.
Common joints affected include knees, fingers, hips, neck and the spine.
Whilst osteoarthritis is often viewed as a mechanical issue (albeit affected by various factors), rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. This is where the body effectively attacks its own tissues – in this case, joint tissue. Cartilage and other connective tissue in the joint become inflamed, damaged and painful.
In addition to supporting joint health, to assist in the management of this condition, your nutritional therapist may also want to assess vitamin D status and gut health.
How Can Nutrition Help?
Managing inflammation is important for any joint issues, and the foods and supplements discussed in my previous blog Inflammation – What’s the Big Deal?
are all relevant here. Quick recap: These anti-inflammatory supplements include turmeric, ginger, omega 3 EPA and DHA, vitamin D (in levels are suboptimal), Boswellia, bromelain and pycnogenol.
Other supplements have also been specifically shown to support joint health and arthritis.
This is perhaps the most common supplement used to support the joints. As well as helping to maintain healthy cartilage, glucosamine is also said to help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms and other joint pain.
A study on football (soccer) players
showed glucosamine to have a protective effect on collagen in healthy subjects, showing that it may be worth taking as a preventative measure for those involved in certain sports or training.Another study
showed positive effects of glucosamine sulphate in osteoarthritis prevention amongst overweight females, who are deemed to have a higher risk for osteoarthritis in the knee(s).
Chrondroitin sulphate is one of the important glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that are important components of cartilage. Supplementing with this can help to prevent cartilage breakdown and stimulate repair.Some studies
have shown that it can reduce pain and improve function in knee joints with osteoarthritis.
Chrondroitin sulphate is often combined in supplements with glucosamine as the two are said to complement each other.
MSM is said to be an important structural component of our connective tissues. It’s combined with glucosamine and chondroitin. One study
showed that this can help to reduce the effects of oxidative stress on joints after exercise.
Always look for a natural source of MSM supplement as some cheaper varieties are derived from petrochemicals.
Hyaluronic acid is another GAG that makes up the cartilage matrix. Therapeutically this is usually administered as an injection to provide pain relief in joints, but oral supplementation
may also be effective.
5.Natural Eggshell Membrane
This is a natural source of GAGs and proteins for joint health. One study
showed that it significantly reduced pain and inflexibility associated with joint and connective tissue disorders, and another
showed that it had a protective effect in healthy subjects.
6.Type II Collagen
With collagen being the main protein found in cartilage, collagen powder or supplements can help provide the raw materials we need to form collagen in the body.
Bone broth is rich in collagen and hyaluronic acid and so incorporating this into your diet – either drinking it on its own, or using it as cooking stock can be beneficial.
This is an important nutrient for the formation of collagen. It is also a powerful antioxidant to help protect the joints from free radical damage.
Personally, I like to take liposomal vitamin C to ensure maximum absorption.As with all nutritional supplements there are contraindications and potential reactions with other medications and supplements. Always check with your healthcare practitioner and nutritional therapist before starting a new supplement programme.