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.
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 choose joint supplements
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 thinning.
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.