Does your knee creak while going
up the stairs or does your shoulder trouble you when serving on the tennis
court? Well, all these indicate wear and tear of joints. Wear and tear of the
joints is very common and is more prominent among sports people, athletes and aging
persons. Almost 60 million people have joint disorders these days. It is in our
best interest to keep our joints flexible and healthy. Maintaining healthy
joints is no longer a tough task; joint supplements can aid in maintaining flexible
and strong joints.
Joint supplements improve the functioning of the joints and offer support to worn out joints. Joint support
formulas prevent additional damage to the joints and also help in maintaining
the mobility of joints. Joint supplements are popular as effective support for
cartilage growth and overall mobility improvement. They also provide relief
from pain and inflammation.
The most popular components of joint supplements are Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Bromelain. They are sold
individually or in combinations.
What do joint supplements do?
- Reduce joint inflammation so as to avoid any additional injury.
- Reconstruct the joints so that they regain strength.
- Reduce friction in the joints arising due to regular physical activities.
Glucosamine: Glucosamine is a sugar-like substance (an amino acid)
naturally produced in the human body. Glucosamine is very effective in the
formation, maintenance and repair of cartilage. Oral use of Glucosamine might boost
the creation of new cartilage as it will supply additional building blocks necessary
for creating new cartilage. In general 1500mg of glucosamine is prescribed per
day over a period of two months. If the patient responds well, treatment is continued.
MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane is prescribed as it is considered a support
to ligaments. The sulfur in MSM helps in maintaining healthy and supple
ligaments. MSM has not been tested as much as glucosamine and chondroitin for its
performance as a joint supplement.
Chondroitin: Chondroitin is present as glycosaminoglycan in
cartilage and is responsible for the flexibility of the cartilage. Chondroitin
also keeps a check on the enzymes that tear down cartilage. In general 800mg
(split into 2 doses of 400mg each) of chondroitin is prescribed per day over a
period of two months. If the patient responds well, treatment is continued.
Often chondroitin is taken in combination with glucosamine.
Combination Supplements: Combinations of either glucosamine and
chondroitin, or glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM are also available. These
combinations are lower priced when compared to the individual medication.
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe): SAMe is a natural compound of
bioactive methionine; it increases the production of cartilage cells. SAMe
supplements reduce pain if taken continuously for several weeks. SAMe
supplements are rather expensive.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps in fighting joint pain and should be
taken as a daily supplement. It minimizes cartilage deterioration in the joints,
thereby reducing pain. Vitamin D by itself is not suggested as treatment for
joint pain, it should be used along with other joint supplements.
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid is a natural supplement that reduces
joint pain. Hyaluronic acid is a compound found naturally within the body, this
compound keeps the joints and cartilage lubricated. Hyaluronic acid supplement
can reduce stiffness in joints and improve the mobility of the joints.
Most recent joint supplements
contain COX-2 inhibitors. These drugs hold back the enzyme COX-2 that is
involved in the inflammation of the pathway. They leave out the COX-1 thus
minimizing gastrointestinal toxicity. COX-2 selective inhibitors are more recent
NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Natural joint supplements like
Omega-3 fatty acids, shark cartilage (it contains chondroitin), fish oil, cat's
claw, turmeric, ginger have also proven to be effective joint supplements.
How to store joint supplements?
- Joint supplements should be kept in a dark, cool, dry place. Never keep them in bathrooms and other wet areas.
- Joint supplements should be out of children's reach.
- Few supplements lose their ability when they are kept over for a very long period. Do not use supplements after the specified expiry date.
How to choose joint supplements
- Check with your physician before you start taking joint supplements.
- Be cautious of impractical claims.
- Find out if the product can lead to any side effects.
- Settle down for reputable brands.
- Follow the prescribed dosage.
Joint supplement restrictions
Joint supplements have to be used with caution especially pregnant women, children and women who may become
pregnant. People with diabetes should be careful while taking these
supplements, as the amino sugars in these supplements can increase the blood
glucose levels. People taking blood-thinning medications should be cautious
while consuming these supplements as these substances can set off additional blood
Joint supplements for women
Women are more afflicted with joint pain when compared to men. They feel more
pain when compared to men as their tolerance level goes down due to frequent
hormonal changes. These hormonal changes increase the occurrence of joint pain
in women. Numerous factors contribute to this situation in women. Women
approaching perimenopause are also likely to suffer from joint pain. The
estrogen level changes in women can also cause joint pain in women. Daily supplements containing
vitamins B, C, E and A can help reduce joint pain.
Joint supplements for runners
Running extensively can wear down the ligaments thus damaging the joints over a period of time. Joint supplements can prevent damage and also repair damage. Joint supplements for runners are made primarily from Glucosamine,
Chondroitin, and MSM. Glucosamine keeps a check on inflammation and also quickens
repair of the cartilage. It also helps in the growth of fresh cartilage and
joint tissue. Chondroitin keeps the cartilage strong and supple. It also
prevents cartilage damage triggered by enzymes. MSM provides the required
amount of sulfur to permit optimal healing and tissue growth.