Joint Pain Relief Nutrients
“I first tried VitaMedica’s Glucosamine about 3 years ago. Upon finishing the bottle, I didn't think I could really feel a difference, so I didn't get more. After just three days, the aches and pains in my knees and hips came back! I started taking the supplement again and within a few days, the aches disappeared. I'm convinced this supplement is the reason I'm no longer in pain. I've taken it ever since, and will continue to do so the rest of my life.”
Whether from age, injury, overuse or an underlying chronic condition, joint pain affects all of us at some point. For most, the pain is intermittent and the annoyance tolerated. For others, it is an unwelcome daily occurrence with far reaching physical, financial and emotional effects.
Conventional medicine offers a number of drugs like NSAIDs that provide symptomatic relief from join pain. However, these medications can have significant side-effects, especially with their long-term use. Patients are often faced with the dilemma - should I suffer through joint pain or take a medication that creates a different set of health problems?
A health-promoting diet that features anti-inflammatory foods along with selected nutritional supplements offers a natural approach for joint pain relief. To better understand the role that good nutrition plays in healthy joint function, let’s first identify and understand the most common inflammatory joint conditions and how their pathophysiology contributes to joint pain and discomfort.
With optimal levels of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K and boron, Bone Support Formula supports bone and joint health. An added bonus - the mineral intensive formula naturally helps you develop a sense of calm and feel relaxed and restful in the evenings. Prevent debilitating fractures down the road by maintaining bone density now and incorporating Bone Support into your healthy lifestyle. For best results, take in combination with Energy Support. Bottle contains 90 tabs.
Inflammation is the body’s innate reaction to tissue damage. Balance the natural inflammatory response with the combination of bromelain and quercetin. These two botanicals exhibit excellent properties for maintaining healthy tissue and joint health after physical stress and athletic activity. Formulation delivers the unique combination of bromelain and quercetin into one supplement. Bottle contains 60 capsules.
Already taking a multi? Then adding an Omega-3 supplement is your next step to nutritional health. Flax Seed Oil is one of the richest sources of alpha-linolenic acid - an essential Omega-3 fatty acid that our body needs for overall health and wellness. But, the modern diet makes it difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of this essential nutrient. Our flax seed oil was developed in partnership with Omega Nutrition, a Canadian based company that specializes in producing organic seed oils for over 20 years. Just one to two softgels daily supports supple-looking skin, joint lubrication and regularity. Learn more about Omega-3s. Bottle contains 90 softgels.
Support healthy joints and maintain an active lifestyle for years to come. Orthopedic surgeons recommend glucosamine sulfate for their patients with osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that stimulates the manufacture of glycosaminoglycans - key structural components of cartilage. Our supplement is available as sulfate – the form which has garnered the greatest number of clinical studies demonstrating its beneficial effect on stabilizing cartilage to maintain healthy joint function and new cartilage production. Learn more about bone and joint health. Bottle contains 120 capsules.
Are you eating the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits & vegetables daily? If not, you may not be obtaining all of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to prevent aging and ensure good health. Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their distinctive color while providing protection from the sun’s harmful rays. When consumed, these plant nutrients confer health benefits to us. Be sure to cover gaps in your diet by taking Phyto-5 Phytonutrient Complex. Learn more about phytonutrients. Bottle contains 60 capsules.$26.00
If you take just one supplement, fish oil should be tops on your list. Our USP-certified fish oil was developed in partnership with Ocean Nutrition, a Canadian based company that specializes in the research and manufacture of Omega-3 based ingredients. Our concentrated formula is one of the highest available. This means you take fewer capsules to obtain the widely-recognized anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular health and brain function benefits. Whether you can’t fit salmon into your weekly meals or worry about the mercury content of ocean farmed fish, Super EPA/DHA Fish Oil ensures that you obtain these essential Omega-3 nutrients in your diet. Learn more about Omega-3s. Bottle contains 60 softgels.
What Comprises a Joint?
What is Cartilage?
Primary Causes of Joint Pain
Joint Pain & Inflammation
Nutritional Supplements for Joint Pain Relief
What Comprises a Joint?
A joint is where two or more bones are connected. The joint is encased in a capsule. The capsule is lined with a thin layer called the synovial membrane that produces synovial fluid. The capsule and fluid protect the cartilage, connective tissue, muscles and bones of the joint.
What is Cartilage?
Cartilage is the smooth surface that covers the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint. Cartilage is mostly water but is also comprised of collagen, a fibrous protein; special cells called chondrocytes that make new collagen; and large protein and sugar molecules called proteoglycans which interweave with collagen to create a mesh-like tissue that is flexible and allows for shock absorption.
Primary Causes of Joint Pain
Joint pain is discomfort that arises from any joint and is sometimes referred to as arthritis or arthralgia. In many cases, the cause is the interaction of several factors including genetics, environment, hormones, previous injury or overuse. While your doctor is in the best position to make a diagnosis, a few conditions account for the vast majority of joint pain issues including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis.
- If you wake up in the morning with stiffness, swelling or a crunching feeling in your joints, you may have osteoarthritis. The most commonly affected joints are those of the fingers, knees and hips.
- Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. An estimated 27 million Americans age 25 and older have OA. By 2030, The NIH estimates that almost a quarter of Americans or 72 million people will have this disease.
- In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage is worn away, exposing bone which leads to pain, swelling, discomfort and loss of joint motion. With cartilage deterioration the joint space narrows and osteophytes or small deposits of bone can grow on the edge of joints. If broken off, these bone spurs can get into joint space causing further pain and damage. This increases synovial fluid production, contributing to joint stiffness. Over time, the bone can even lose its shape.
- Although osteoarthritis is associated with aging, prior joint injury, heredity, muscle weakness and obesity all contribute to cartilage degeneration. Before age 45, more men have osteoarthritis; after 45 more women have the disease.
- Glucosamine sulfate is widely-recognized for its beneficial role in restoring joint cartilage, thereby providing joint pain relief.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is the second most common type of arthritis. This chronic inflammatory disorder, which affects 1.3 million Americans, typically begins at a younger age than osteoarthritis. The disease is more common in women and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with pain, swelling, inflammation and eventual joint damage and malformation. RA most often affects the wrist and finger joints but can affect other joints like the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet.
- In contrast to osteoarthritis – which is a degenerative process - rheumatoid arthritis is an actively destructive process. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the membrane lining of joints. The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually invade and destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint. As a result, the tendons and ligaments that holds the joint together start to weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.
- Rheumatoid arthritis also differs from osteoarthritis in that RA generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern. So, both hands might be affected not just one. This pattern of inflammation occurring on both sides of the body helps to distinguish RA from other types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can also be accompanied by fatigue, fever, and a general sense of not feeling well. A person’s symptoms can be highly variable and can wax and wane over time.
- The Omega-3 fats EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) along with the enzyme bromelain, have well-documented anti-inflammatory benefits offering a natural solution to NSAIDs which are routinely prescribed for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to provide joint pain relief.
- Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae - small fluid-filled sacs that help protect bones, tendons and muscles near joints. The most common places for bursitis to occur are in the shoulders, elbows or hips. Bursitis is associated with frequent or repetitive motion and use of the joint and is common is certain occupations e.g., carpentry.
- Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle. Tendonitis is more common in adults as tendons become less elastic and subject to wear-and-tear. Like bursitis, tendonitis is caused by repetitive movement either through sports e.g., tennis elbow or as an occupational hazard. The pain, tenderness and mild swelling associated with tendonitis is common in the elbow, shoulder, base of thumb, hip, knee and Achilles tendon (largest tendon in the body).
Joint Pain & Inflammation
You may have noticed that each of the above mentioned joint conditions ends in “itis”. The literal interpretation of this suffix is inflammation - the thread that weaves these chronic conditions together. While you can’t change the progression of joint disease, you can influence the inflammatory process and thereby obtain joint pain relief.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is associated with injury. The five hallmarks of acute inflammation are rubor (redness), calor (increased heat), tumor (swelling), dolor (pain) and functio laesa (loss of function). Acute inflammation is short-lived and is necessary to initiate the healing process.
If an acute inflammatory event is not resolved, as in the case of a degenerative process like osteoarthritis, a chronic inflammatory response may ensue. While this “silent” condition goes largely unnoticed, levels of inflammatory chemicals become elevated. A chemical marker in the blood, C-reactive protein, is a good indicator of the body’s level of chronic inflammation. A simple blood test ordered by your doctor can determine your C-reactive protein levels.
You may be surprised to learn that what you eat influences the development of inflammatory compounds. That’s because some foods, especially red meat, sugar, trans fats, saturated fats and packaged, processed foods, contain pro-inflammatory compounds. Avoiding these foods helps to inhibit the pro-inflammatory process.
Alternatively, a number of foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds. The aptly named anti-inflammatory diet features natural, whole foods including Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and Omega-9 monounsaturated fats; lean poultry and fish; nuts, legumes and seeds; fruits and vegetables. Incorporating these healthy foods into your diet inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which in turn can provide joint pain relief. For more information on the best inflammation fighting foods, download our Healthy Bone & Joint Guidelines.
Nutritional Supplements for Joint Pain Relief
Given that certain foods inhibit inflammation and nutritional supplements are derived from food sources, it makes sense that their use can reduce the signs and symptoms of arthritis and other joint inflammatory conditions. Natural substances also support the development of cartilage and promote joint mobility.
Substantial clinical and experimental evidence supports nutritional supplements for joint health. Studies indicate that many of these natural agents provide similar efficacy as conventional anti-inflammatory drugs, and are safer to use with respect to reported adverse side-effects.
Below is a review of the key nutritional supplements that support joint health including boron, bioflavonoids, bromelain, glucosamine sulfate and Omega-3 oils.
- Boron is a trace mineral that is used by the body to ensure proper metabolism and utilization of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and some hormones like estrogen and testosterone. In populations that consume up to 4 mg of boron daily, they have fewer joint disorders and less incidence of osteoporosis.
- There is no established RDI for boron at this time. The average American diet includes approximately 1 mg/day of this mineral. Boron has been safely used therapeutically at doses of 3 mg/day or more. To supplement your diet, look for formulations that contain at least 1.0 mg of chelated boron daily.
- Also referred to as flavones or flavonoids, bioflavonoids are a class of over 5,000 plant chemicals that our bodies metabolize in a way that offers strong antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-allergenic, and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Among the best bioflavonoid compounds for soothing the inflammatory cascade are quercetin, epicatechin, rutin, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) such as those found in pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) and grape seed extract.
- Quercetin is a flavonoid that is a plant pigment found in large amounts in foods such as onions and apples. The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin seem to come from its ability to dampen the production and activity of pro-inflammatory biochemicals and to block the release of histamine, the biochemical that causes allergic symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. For anti-inflammatory support, take 500 mg, three times a day of a quercetin supplement.
- Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme (digests protein) that is extracted from the root of the pineapple stem. While the precise mechanism of action remains unclear, studies suggest that proteolytic enzymes like bromelain may have important contributions to make in the treatment of inflammation. Bromelain inhibits prostaglandins that cause inflammation and promotes the formation of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
- For inflammatory conditions, bromelain should be taken between meals. Consider adding bromelain to a supplement regimen containing glucosamine as bromelain appears to strengthen the effect of glucosamine.
- For joint pain relief, take at least 500 mg of bromelain, three times a day. Look for formulations that contain at least 2,000 Milk Clotting Units or MCUs per gram. This is the measure of the enzyme’s activity and is an important determinant in the supplement’s efficacy.
- Glucosamine sulfate is a protein sugar molecule that is made by the chondrocytes. As we age, our body’s ability to synthesize this natural compound diminishes which may contribute to development of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine sulfate is an effective intervention to halt joint cartilage destruction and help regenerate new cartilage in osteoarthritis.
- Chondroitin is similar to glucosamine in that it is a large protein and sugar molecule. Chondroitin is extracted from animal cartilage such as cow trachea whereas glucosamine is made from chitin, the exoskeleton of shell fish (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster). Studies demonstrate the glucosamine is 90-98% absorbed intact from the intestinal tract whereas chondroitin is absorbed less than 13%.
- Glucosamine sulfate also delivers the mineral sulfur (not to be confused with sulfa drugs or sulfate-containing additives which are used as a preservative in wine, dried fruits and other foods). Sulfur is required to stabilize the matrix of collagen, tendons and ligaments. Strong anecdotal evidence exists that sulfur has an anti-inflammatory effect, which is why the sulfur based compound MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane) is also popular in joint supplements.
- The vast majority of research on glucosamine has been conducted on glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine sulfate has been the subject of over 20 well-designed clinical studies. A study published in 2001 in the British journal the Lancet, tracked patients with knee osteoarthritis over three years. At the end of the study, the authors concluded that glucosamine sulfate supplementation significantly reduced the progression of knee osteoarthritis.
- In 2006, results of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trail (GAIT) were published. The study of 1,583 people with knee osteoarthritis showed that the supplements glucosamine hydrocholoride plus chondroitin were more effective than celecoxib (Celebrex®) or placebo in patients with moderate to severe pain. An 18 month study with 581 patients was conducted as a follow-up to investigate whether these supplements could diminish structural damage from osteoarthritis of the knee. Those patients taking just glucosamine had the least average joint space width loss, followed by those taking just chondroitin.
- The same year, the GUIDE study was published. European researchers found that 1,500 mg of glucosamine daily was more effective in relieving pain than 400 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol) in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
- Glucosamine sulfate is recommended as an adjunctive treatment by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and by organizations like the Arthritis Foundation
- It is important to note, that as a natural substance, the beneficial effects of glucosamine sulfate to alleviate pain can take upwards of 8 weeks. However, research has demonstrated that over time, glucosamine sulfate can be more effective in reducing pain than the NSAID ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin).
- For joint pain relief, the recommended dosing for glucosamine sulfate is 1,500 mg per day, taken with food. Individuals weighing more than 200 pounds should increase their dosing to 2,000 mg per day.
- Americans typically obtain an adequate amount of Omega-6 fats in their diet. This is because these fats which are derived from plants such as soybean, corn and safflower, are widely available in our food supply.
- In contrast, most of us do not obtain sufficient Omega-3 fats in our diet. The Omega-3 fats include ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Flax seeds and walnuts are an excellent source of ALA whereas certain types of fish and some algae are good sources of EPA and DHA. These fats are not as readily available in the food supply.
- Importantly, the desired ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the diet should be about 2:1. Instead, the ratio in our diets is closer to 10:1. This dietary imbalance in fatty acids (excessive Omega-6 and insufficient Omega-3 intake) is a fundamental underlying cause of many chronic diseases today including most inflammatory diseases.
- In general, dietary consumption of Omega-6 fats leads to the “unfavorable” or inflammatory prostaglandins whereas consumption of Omega-3 fats promotes formation of “favorable” or anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that play a role in various bodily functions including inflammation, blood clotting, sodium/potassium balance, blood pressure and lipid metabolism.
- Supplementing with fish oil (high in EPA and DHA) and flax seed oil (ALA) helps to shift the production of prostaglandins from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Studies support the use of fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis. An analysis of nine studies of people with rheumatoid arthritis taking Omega-3s showed a reduction in the number of tender joints. In six studies, people with rheumatoid arthritis were able to reduce their dosages of NSAIDs or corticosteroids. A 2005 study of people with rheumatoid arthritis showed enhanced positive effects when fish oil supplements were used in combination with olive oil.
- For joint pain relief, the recommended dosing for Omega-3 supplements is 1 to 3 grams per day, taken with food.
A Healthy Diet & Lifestyle Can Provide Joint Pain Relief
While you can’t change your genetics, you can make wise food and nutritional supplement choices that support healthy joints and promote the development of anti-inflammatory compounds. In doing so, you can feel good knowing that you’re taking control to support an active lifestyle while minimizing joint pain.