Along with diet and lifestyle, joint supplements can be a great way to boost your joint health and prevent discomfort.
Common reasons for taking joint supplements are to:
- Support overall joint health
- Ease joint stiffness
- Prevent pain and swelling in joints such as the knee
- Improve joint mobility
Read on to learn how these natural health products work in the body, plus what to look for when choosing a joint health supplement.
But First, How Do Our Joints Work?
Before we get into the supplements, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how our joints work.
The human body contains anywhere between 250 and 350 joints depending on life stage. Basically, a joint is where two or more bones meet to allow us to move and bear weight.
There are a variety of different joint types such as ball and socket (movement in all directions, such as hip and shoulder), hinge (one direction movement, like the knee and elbow), and others.
There are three major joint types in the body:
- Fibrous (limited movement)
- Cartilaginous (minimal movement)
- Synovial (freely moving)
We will focus on how age and deterioration can affect synovial joints, the most common joint in the body. First, let’s understand how the joint functions normally.
In synovial joints, each bone is covered with a thin layer of cartilage, allowing for smooth and cushioned movements. There is a small space between the two meeting bones known as the joint cavity that contains synovial fluid, which is lubrication for joint movement. Ligaments and tendons attach the bones and muscles.
How Joints Deteriorate with Age
A lifetime of movement and normal wear and tear can take a toll on your body, including your joints. The pain and stiffness that occurs in joints with age is known as arthritis, with the most common type being osteoarthritis.
Commonly affecting the knee, hips, feet, and hands, osteoarthritis involves the gradual breakdown and thinning of cartilage as well as the decreasing levels of joint-lubricating synovial fluid.
Also, ligaments typically shorten and lose some flexibility over time, resulting in further joint stiffness.
Without synovial fluid and cartilage, the connecting bones will have a limited barrier and can start having direct contact. This usually causes pain, inflammation, discomfort and eventually a lack of flexibility. Think about how hard it is sometimes to bend down to grab something from the floor or simply bend your knee to do your laces.
Choosing a Joint Supplement
The good news is, joint supplementation can be added to your daily regimen to support joint health and pain, and/or to prevent pain from developing in the first place.
Alongside the typical pain relieving drugs like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, there are dozens of natural supplements that aid in joint health. Many products aim to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and build cartilage.
Let’s look at a few ingredients known for joint health support:
1. Glucosamine & Chondroitin (Builds Cartilage)
Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural components found widely in connective tissues in the body such as cartilage. When cartilage deteriorates over time, supplementing with synthetic glucosamine and/or chondroitin can help rebuild cartilage in joints.
2. Boswellia (Targets Inflammation)
This naturally occurring extract from the boswellia serrata tree improves levels of inflammation in the body. As a result, it can help reduce pain in individuals with arthritis. (Learn more about boswellia’s anti-inflammatory effects and traditional use in our recent blog post.)
3. Turmeric (Analgesic/Targets Inflammation)
Deep yellow turmeric is a well-known ingredient that helps mitigate pain and can also help joints. In one study, participants taking turmeric supplements noted a significant pain improvement when consuming turmeric supplements.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Targets Inflammation)
Fish oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits of omega-3s are wide-ranging, but they are typically used as a daily supplement to improve heart and brain health and reduce bodily inflammation. Omega-3s can help joint pain by reducing the inflammation that occurs when bones rub against each other.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Joint Health Supplement
Which joint supplement should you choose? It can be overwhelming, so here are a few questions to ask before deciding on a product:
- Is it Health Canada approved?
The first thing to know is that dietary supplements (known as natural health products in Canada) are regulated by the Canadian federal government. Only those that have been reviewed for safety, efficacy, and quality are issued a product licence to be sold. This applies to conventional retailers as well as online sellers such as manufacturers or through e-commerce platforms or websites like Amazon in Canada.
However, that doesn’t prevent poor-quality products from being sold online or in stores, especially in the U.S. where there is no pre-market approval. Be sure to check that the product is approved by looking for an 8-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. You can look up products on Health Canada’s Licensed NHP Database to check their approval status.
- Does it Have the Ingredients I Want?
First, know what your supplement is going to target. Are you looking to aid in cartilage rebuilding? Are you only targeting pain and inflammation? Look at the supplement ingredients and check if the product contains the ingredients with efficacy for those indications.
Don’t hesitate to ask a store clerk, online customer service, or medical professional for assistance when picking the right product for you.
- What is the Dosage?
Ask your doctor or other healthcare practitioner what dosage of ingredient to use and for what health indications.
There can be different percentages of active ingredients in natural supplementation, so check that you are purchasing and consuming the correct dose.
If we revisit the 4 recommended ingredients commonly used to treat joint issues, the following doses are typically recommended:
- Glucosamine: 1500mg/day
- Chondroitin: 400-800mg 2-3x/day
- Boswellia: 100-222mg 3x/day
- Fish Oil: 300-1000mg/day
- Turmeric: 500mg 2-4x/day
(These are standard recommended dosages found in a variety of studies; however, these may not apply to everyone. Please discuss with a medical professional before adding a supplement to your daily routine).
- Is it An Appropriate Price?
Natural health products can range in price depending on purity, the number of tablets in a bottle, milligrams of active extract per pill, and so on.
If a product appears to be a very good deal compared to leading brands that pride themselves on quality and potency, you are likely not getting a premium product!
Where to Buy Joint Supplements
Shop Kondor Pharma’s Joint Health product GenuwellTM to provide joint support through the natural ingredient of Boswellia. It is:
- Health Canada approved – GenuwellTM (NPN: 80101121) has been approved to help relieve joint pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis of the knees
- Contains ingredients for joint pain and inflammation – contains standardized boswellia extract
- Supported by research – Read the science behind boswellia for joint health