7 Joint Care Supplements & How They Work

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7 Joint Care Supplements & How They Work

Millions of Americans report joint concerns each year. Between 2010 and 2012, a staggering 52.5 million adults experienced joint issues, and those numbers are expected to keep growing.[1] With so many people concerned about joint health, it isn’t surprising that joint care supplements are increasingly available.

Nourishing your joints may be one of the most important things you can do to stay flexible and mobile as you age and support healthy joints and active lifestyles. But with so many joint health supplements out there, how do you know which to choose? Let’s review some of the most common joint-supporting nutrients and how they work.

#1 Glucosamine for Joint Health

Glucosamine is a compound that helps keep cartilage healthy. It’s one of the primary building blocks found in cartilage, and it plays a role in building tendons, ligaments and the thick synovial fluid that surrounds joints.[2] Since cartilage is one of the primary structures that provide cushioning for your bones at the joints throughout your body, it makes sense that supporting the health of your cartilage is important for your joint health.[3]

Glucosamine supplements are available in several forms, including glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl-glucosamine. Most clinical studies have focused on the sulphate form of glucosamine, which is typically formulated from shellfish. For people with shellfish allergies, glucosamine hydrochloride may be a better option, but be sure to read the product label to check ingredients and warnings before taking a glucosamine supplement if you have shellfish allergies.

Glucosamine is often supplemented at 1,500 mg once each day or 500 mg three times per day, or 750 mg twice per day when combined with 500 mg of turmeric root twice daily, but always follow the instructions on your product labels.[2]

How Does Glucosamine Help Joints?

As we age, cartilage can weaken and break down, which may affect how joints function and feel.[3] Clinical evidence has shown that certain glucosamine supplements may help slow the effects of ageing on cartilage within our joints and support joint mobility and flexibility.[2]

According to the Mayo Clinic, enough evidence exists to encourage people who are concerned about joint health to consider trying a glucosamine supplement.[4]

Explore glucosamine benefits in-depth by reading Glucosamine Overview: The Best Types (and Forms) for Joint Health & Beyond.

Glucosamine Supplements to Try

Swanson Premium Glucosamine Sulfate 2KC1
Take care of your joints every day with Swanson Premium Glucosamine Sulphate. A compound derived from shellfish, glucosamine sulphate delivers key structural components for the shock-absorbing cartilage that cushions joints for comfortable movement.

Swanson Ultra Vegetarian Glucosamine & MSM, Shellfish Free
Our vegetarian, shellfish-free glucosamine features glucosamine hydrochloride, a state-of-the-art formulation derived from corn. It’s the only supplemental glucosamine that comes from a non-shellfish source, which is an essential consideration for anyone with seafood allergies.

#2 Chondroitin Supplements for Joints

Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a major building block of cartilage that naturally occurs in connective tissues throughout the body.[5] It’s a critical component in the formation of cartilage, and since healthy cartilage is vital to joint health, nourishing the cartilage in our joints may help provide some comfort for ageing joints.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are often taken together in a combination supplement for joint health, and the two substances play similar, vital roles in joint maintenance. Some experts say chondroitin may not be absorbed as efficiently by the body as glucosamine because chondroitin molecules are larger than glucosamine.[6] While glucosamine is absorbed in 90-98% by the body, chondroitin is only absorbed at a rate of up to 13%, meaning less of it may reach cartilage cells.[5]

Regardless, chondroitin remains one of the most popular joint-supporting supplements, and the National Center for Complementary Integrative Health reported that 6.5 million people took glucosamine and/or chondroitin (often taken together) in 2012 alone.[7]

When combined with glucosamine, chondroitin is often supplemented at 400 mg, 2 to 3 times per day.[2] When taken alone, some studies have used 1,200 to 1,800 mg of chondroitin once per day or divided that daily amount into 2 to 3 doses, but since the ideal dosage is unknown always follow the directions on your product label.[5]

How Does Chondroitin Support Joints?

Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a building block of cartilage. Chondroitin is a water-loving molecule and therefore helps draw fluid into the joint, supporting the cushioning qualities of cartilage. A clinical study of 800 mg of chondroitin sulphate per day found a significant reduction in cartilage loss with supplementation.[8]

Chondroitin Supplements to Try

Swanson New Zealand Green Lipped Mussell
Give your joints the nutritional tools to keep them functioning smoothly with Swanson New Zealand Green Lipped Mussell. A constituent of the cartilage that cushions each joint, chondroitin sulfate is one of the world’s most popular supplemental nutrients for joint health maintenance.

Swanson Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Help keep your joints in top working order with Swanson Glucosamine & Chondroitin. These unique nutritional compounds deliver the raw materials to help maintain the cartilage that cushions our joints for comfortable movement.

Swanson Ultra Albion Chelated Magnesium & Calcium
Albion Chelated Magnesium & Calcium reverses the traditional ratio, delivering adequate supplemental levels of each mineral along with vitamin D-3 and K-2 to ensure optimum absorption.

#3 Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for Joint Health

MSM is a sulphur compound found naturally in our bodies. In nature, MSM is present in small amounts in vegetables, fruits and grains.[9] Sulphur is crucial for repairing connective tissues, which is one area in which it may provide benefits for joint health.[10] It’s also involved in the metabolism of certain foods and helps your body absorb nutrients. MSM supports collagen and keratin and may play a role in supporting immune response to stressors, plus it may support muscles during workouts and help fight oxidative stress caused by exercise.[11],[12]

Although people take MSM supplements for a variety of reasons, from promoting hair health to exercise recovery, it’s most often taken to help support joint health, promote flexibility and preserve collagen.[13] Numerous clinical studies have been conducted on MSM for joints with promising results.[12],[13] However, MSM is a dietary supplement and not a cure for chronic joint issues related to diseases that affect joints.

MSM is commonly supplemented in doses between 500 mg to 6,000 mg per day, with a great safety record. Follow the directions on your product label for best results.

How Does MSM Work?

MSM supplements are a highly absorbable form of organic sulphur that may support joints by helping your body form healthy connective tissue and encouraging comfort and vitality of joints, tendons and ligaments. MSM is also an antioxidant and may help keep joints healthy by assisting immune response to stressors.

MSM Supplements to Try

Swanson Ultra MSM
Support healthy cartilage, tendons, ligaments and skin easily with the help of Swanson TruFlex® MSM. This unique formula is an organic form of the essential mineral sulphur and is biologically active for easy assimilation.

Swanson Premium MSM Powder
Take care of your vital joint tissues with Swanson MSM. A biologically active form of the essential mineral sulphur, MSM delivers basic nourishment for the tissues that keep your joints working smoothly. It’s also great for maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails.

#4 Collagen for Joint Support

Collagen is a protein and a natural part of cartilage, bone and other tissues.[14] It’s found in skin, muscles, and tendons and it’s the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom.[15]

There are many different types of collagen and collagen supplements, but type II collagen is the major type of collagen in cartilage, imparting strength and the ability to compress to the cartilage within our joints so they can absorb shocks.[15]

Supplemental collagen is derived from bovine, chicken or fish sources, and many also feature key amino acids like glycine, proline and lysine. Collagen type II is considered possibly safe taken in doses up to 2.5 mg daily for up to 24 weeks, but the appropriate dose for each person depends on age, health and other conditions.[14] Be sure to follow the directions on your product labels and check with your doctor to make sure collagen supplements are right for you.

How Does Collagen Help Joints?

Collagen supplements are believed to work by triggering substances in the body that help comfort joints, although research has not proven exactly how that process may work.[14] Collagen also contains chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which may benefit joint health.[14] It may support the fluids, functioning and integrity of the cartilage within joints, thus promoting joint health.

Indentured Type II collagen works specifically with the immune system to help support your joint health. Clinical studies have supported the use of this ingredient at 40 mg per day to support joint health, function and comfort.[16]

Collagen Supplements to Try

Swanson Glucosamine & Collagen, Type II
Keep your joints working comfortably with the patented nutrition of Glucosamine & Collagen, Type II.

5. Turmeric for Healthy Joints

Turmeric is a spice made from the dried and ground root of the turmeric plant, a plant in the same family as ginger. It has been used as a herbal tonic for thousands of years, and many of the benefits of turmeric are attributed to a photochemical within it known as curcumin.

Curcumin is an extremely potent antioxidant carotenoid pigment with potential uses for many areas of health, including memory, digestion, circulation and joint health.[17],[18] As a nutrient for joint health, turmeric may have comforting qualities and support healthy joint function.

People taking turmeric or curcumin supplements for joint health have taken 500 mg, 2 to 4 times per day for between 6 weeks and 3 months.[18] Read your product label and check with your doctor if you aren’t sure about the best turmeric dosage for you.

How Does Turmeric Support Joint Health?

Turmeric may have comforting qualities for joints and it provides antioxidant support.[18] Since turmeric is fat-soluble instead of water-soluble, it’s best to consume turmeric with a meal that contains some fat or oil, or to seek highly bioavailable turmeric supplements. You may want to try turmeric supplements combined with black pepper, which may help with absorption, or Swanson Ultra Turmeric Phytosome, which is a potent form of turmeric studied for its joint health benefits.[18],[19]

Turmeric Supplements to Try

Swanson Ultra Turmeric Phytosome
Turmeric Phytosome with Meriva represents the pinnacle of turmeric science. Meriva delivers active herbal components enveloped by phospholipids in a patented molecular complex. Preliminary research shows that Meriva is absorbed up to 10 times better than standard, non-complexed turmeric.

Swanson Ultra High Absorption TheracurminTM
TheracurminTM is a proprietary turmeric preparation featuring finely milled turmeric in a colloidal suspension with glycerin and gum ghatti, which is a complex polysaccharide derived from the sap of the ghatti tree. This formula offers dramatically enhancing bioavailability to increase curcumin levels in the blood. Human trials show that TheracurminTM is over 27 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin.

#6 Vitamin D for Joint Health

You may know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin since our bodies make it when our skin is exposed to the sun. This essential nutrient is well-known for helping support many areas of health, including healthy bones and teeth, cardiovascular health, muscle support and more.[20] But does vitamin D support joint health?

The answer to that isn’t so simple. Studies have repeatedly found low levels of vitamin D in people with joint concerns, which means there may be a link between vitamin D and joint health.[20] And some researchers believe low vitamin D levels may complicate joint issues.[20] While vitamin D deficiency may be associated with joint issues, there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin D supplementation provides specific joint health benefits for those with adequate vitamin D levels.

But if you consider the fact that most Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and combine that knowledge with an awareness of a large number of people in the US who have joint health concerns, the potential link between vitamin D and joint health shouldn’t be ignored.[1],[21],[22] We should all do our best to make sure we get our daily recommended intake of vitamin D, as there are plenty of reasons beyond joint health to do so.

According to recommendations by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), healthy adults between 19 and 70 years of age should get 600 IU of vitamin D each day, and adults over 71 should get 800 IU each day.[23] Although we can get vitamin D from food sources, sometimes this can be difficult, however, daily intake levels can easily be achieved with vitamin D supplements.

How Does Vitamin D Support Joint Health?

The potential benefits of vitamin D for joint health may be related to the vital role vitamin D plays in calcium and phosphorus absorption, including its roles in the release of calcium from the intestines and the active transport of phosphorus.[24]

Phosphorus works together with calcium to help build bones. Low levels of phosphorus alongside low levels of calcium and vitamin D for long periods of time may lead to weakness or softness of bones, which might contribute to muscle and joint concerns.[25]

To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D and foods containing vitamin D, read The Importance of Vitamin D + How to Get it In Your Diet.

Vitamin D Supplements to Try

Swanson Premium Vitamin D-3
Supports healthy bones, immune wellness, and cardiovascular wellness, and promotes calcium absorption in the body. This supplement provides a potent dose of 5,000 IU per serving.

Calcium Citrate & Vitamin D
A potent and economical choice for supplementing your calcium and vitamin D intake for bone nourishment and enhanced absorption. This supplement features 350 mg of calcium in each tablet, plus 10 mcg of vitamin D.

#7 Calcium and Joint Health

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and it’s primarily stored in bones and teeth to help them stay strong.[26] It also helps muscles contract and expand and plays a role in nervous system health.[26]

The relationship between calcium and joint health is multifaceted. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing calcium.[27] In fact, by about age 30, our bones have reached their peak calcium content and start to lose calcium slowly, but you can help slow those losses by getting enough calcium every day.[27] Why does that matter for joint health? Several areas of joint health concern may coincide with bone weakness or changes in bone mass or mineral density.[28]

One misconception regarding calcium and joint health involves the role of calcium in joint crystals. Experts say that the formation of calcium crystals in joints is not related to calcium intake except in individuals that have rare metabolic concerns that raise levels of calcium in the blood.[29]

The FNB recommends that adults between 19 and 50 years of age get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Males 51 to 70 should also aim for 1,000 mg per day, and females 51 to 70 need 1,200 mg per day. Male and female adults over 71 years of age should get 1,200 mg of calcium each day.

How Does Calcium Support Joint Health?

Calcium plays a role in keeping bones strong and healthy bones are important for healthy joints. Cartilage is avascular, meaning it does not have its own blood and nutrient supply. As we move the synovial fluid from joints is pushed down through the bony channels of subchondral bone where it draws nutrients from the blood supply in the bone and carries those nutrients back to the cartilage. As bone health declines, these bony channels can breakdown, which makes this process less efficient.

Calcium Supplements to Try

Swanson Premium Calcium Citrate Complex
Calcium Citrate is one of the most absorbable and bioavailable forms of supplemental calcium. For those looking for a pure Calcium Citrate without added magnesium, vitamin D or other nutrients, we present these economical 200 mg capsules.

Swanson Ultra Coral Calcium Complex
This unique mineral formula features the ideal 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, along with 73 trace minerals in a perfect, pH balanced combination made by nature.

Combination Supplements for Joint Health

Many supplements that support joints are taken together to provide joint nourishment from every angle. Popular joint health combination formulas include Vegetarian MSM & Glucosamine, Shellfish Free), Glucosamine & Chondroitin, and some supplements contain a nourishing trio of Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM with Hyal-Joint.

Researchers are continually evaluating new ways to help maintain healthy joints at every age. And as new information becomes available, Swanson Health will be here to keep you up to speed and provide superior formulas for supporting joint health.

To learn more about the benefits of the joint-supporting nutrients discussed in this article, read 21 Supplements and Vitamins for Men’s Health and Glucosamine Overview: The Best Types (and Forms) for Joint Health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Footnotes & References

  1. Number of Americans With Severe Joint Pain Rising. WebMD. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  []  
  2. Glucosamine Sulfate. MedlinePlus. (Accessed 04/05/2018) []  []  []  []  
  3. Understanding Cartilage, Joints, and the Aging Process. Healthline. (Accessed 04/05/2018) []  []  
  4. Glucosamine. Mayo Clinic. (Accessed 2/26/2018)[]  
  5. Chondroitin. WebMD. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  []  []  
  6. https://www.drugs.com/npc/chondroitin.html (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  
  7. Use of Complimentary Health Approaches in the US. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  
  8. Chondroitin sulphate reduces both cartilage volume loss and bone marrow lesions in knee osteoarthritis patients starting as early as 6 months after initiation of therapy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study using MRI. BMJ Journals. (Accessed 05/11/2018) []  
  9. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) Dietary Supplement. Medicine Net. (Accessed 2/8/2018) []  
  10. MSM: What You Need to Know. How Stuff Works, Health. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  
  11. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement (Accessed 2/14/2018) []  
  12. Effect of MSM Supplementation on Exercise-induced Muscle Damage and Total Antioxidant Capacity. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. (Accessed 2/14/2018) []  []  
  13. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). WebMD.com. (Accessed 2/8/2018) []  []  
  14. Collagen Type II. WebMD. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  []  []  []  
  15. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  []  
  16. Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. PubMed. (Accessed 05/11/2018) []  
  17. Turmeric. WebMD. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  
  18. Turmeric. The Golden Spice. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (Accessed 05/08/2018) []  []  []  []  
  19. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. PubMed. (Accessed 05/11/2018) []  
  20. Vitamin D. WebMD. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  []  []  
  21. Vitamin D deficiency soars in the U.S., study says. Scientific American. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  22. Is There a Connection Between Vitamin D and Joint Pain? Healthline. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  23. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  24. Intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus. PubMed. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  25. How Your Body Uses Phosphorus. Healthline. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  26. Calcium. Medline Plus. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  []  
  27. Calcium. National Institutes of Health. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  []  
  28. Bone Density. Medline Plus. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  
  29. Calcium Beyond the Bones. Harvard Health. (Accessed 05/07/2018) []  

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