Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
7 min read
A joint is a part of your body where two or more bones meet. They make our skeletons flexible and make all of our movements possible. Some joints, like knees and elbows, open and close like hinges. Still others allow for more complex movements: Your shoulder or hip joints, for example, allow backward, sideways, forward, and even rotating movements. Normal joints are made up of type 2 collagen, water, and glycosaminoglycans, and proteoglycans, which help with elasticity.
Joints are important to our health and mobility. Unfortunately, many of us will experience joint issues from time to time – whether after intense exercise or simply through use in the regular course of life. That’s why it’s important to start supporting joint health today. Through exercise, stretching, and even the use of some joint health supplements, you can help yourself maintain healthy joints.
Occasional joint pain is likely to happen to people who make frequent use of particular muscles, such as those who regularly engage in intense workouts. Joint issues also occur with age, since the longer you live the more you’re likely to use your joints.
Sometimes, however, joint issues can be the result of a chronic condition. In such cases, it’s best to talk to your doctor about a treatment plan.
There is a growing body of research to support the claim that supplements can work for joint support. Supplements can help support some of your body’s physiological processes, including those involved in strengthening muscles and bones. Some supplements also help relieve joint pain. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular joint health supplements and see what the research has to say about them.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s present in many foods, added to others, and is available in supplemental form. It’s also produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit your skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis in the body. Vitamin D plays a role in your metabolism and helps support your body’s absorption of calcium. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to muscle weakness and declining bone health. All of these factors support the idea that vitamin D can be good for joint health. Moreover, vitamin D manages chondrocytes, which are the cells responsible for the production and maintenance of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in cartilage. If you’re looking to support bone, muscle, and joint health, you might want to look into whether you’re getting enough vitamin D. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600-800 IU. Care/of offers a 30-day, easy-to-digest pack of vitamin D.
A review of available clinical research showed that taking fish oil supplements – which contain omega-3 fatty acids – can promote joint comfort and support overall joint health. Moreover, the same review found that taking fish oil supplements didn’t seem to have adverse effects. Typical fish oil doses range from 300 to 1,000 mg per day, depending on your needs. You can check out Care/of’s Fish Oil pill, sustainably sourced from Alaskan salmon.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family and it’s frequently used to add flavor to different meals and cuisines. It’s also become an increasingly popular supplement for promoting joint comfort and supporting joint health. The main source of turmeric’s health benefits is curcumin, a phytonutrient that seems to have antioxidant properties. While more research on turmeric’s effect on occasional joint pain is needed, a systematic review of existing studies found that it improved temporary joint pain symptoms more than a placebo did. Another study similarly found that turmeric supported joint health.
When used as a supplement, turmeric is typically combined with black pepper or piperine (an extract) to help with absorption. It’s typically taken in a dose of 500 mg, two to four times per day. Care/of offers a top-notch, 30-day supply of turmeric.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, found in tendons, ligaments, fat, and skin. It gives joints their structure, forming a sort of scaffolding that holds the body together. As a supplement, it’s available in capsule and powder form. Since collagen production declines with age, it’s important to get collagen from food or supplement sources. Collagen-rich food options include bone broth, eggs, fish, and more.
When it comes to collagen supplements’ support for joint health, results are promising. A 24-week study on the use of collagen as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain found that athletes treated with a dietary supplement of collagen hydrolysate had better joint health and reductions in exercise related joint pain.
Care/of’s Vegetarian Collagen supplement uses eggshell membranes, which have been shown in studies to promote joint health in active adults. The membranes have been shown to work within 7-10 days, helping people enjoy improvements in joint comfort and mobility.
Boswellia has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its therapeutic properties. It’s a supplement that contains more than 12 active boswellic acids, including what’s known as AKBA. AKBA plays an important role with cells that manage bone metabolism. A recent study showed that boswellia can promote joint health by maintaining cartilage and the glycosaminoglycans.
Glucosamine is a natural component of cartilage that may promote healthy cartilage and joint mobility. The raw material for glucosamine supplements has historically come from the extraction of chitin, a component of shellfish. Technological progress has enabled people to pursue a more efficient means of developing glucosamine from vegetarian sources by fermentation.
The two main forms of glucosamine found in supplements are: glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. Both have been studied for their effects on joint health. Of the two, glucosamine sulfate has been found to improve the symptoms of joint issues, while glucosamine hydrochloride has not been found effective. Some supplements include both glucosamine and chondroitin – more on that below.
Chondroitin is like glucosamine in that it’s also a building block of cartilage. Moreover, like glucosamine, it may also help promote healthy cartilage and joint mobility.
Numerous studies have found chondroitin to be effective at reducing temporary joint pain. Per one study, about 53% of people who use chondroitin supplements have a 20% reduction in knee pain. A typical chondroitin dose is 400 to 800 mg, two to three times a day. It’s common, also, to see joint supplements combine chondroitin and glucosamine.
Devil’s claw, which is also known as harpagophytum, may support joint health. One study showed that devil’s claw worked to promote joint comfort after daily dosage of 57 mg of harpagoside (the major chemical component thought to be responsible for the soothing effects) over a period of four months. Another study demonstrated devil’s claw’s antioxidant properties. Still, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness. Most studies concerning the use of devil’s claw have administered doses of 600 to 800 mg, up to three times per day.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a frequently used ingredient in supplements that may support joint health. One study found that MSM reduced temporary knee joint pain and improved knee joint functioning compared to a placebo. Another study found that MSM may have antioxidant properties and can support physical function and performance. Average MSM doses range from 1,500 to 6,000 per day.
You should seek medical attention when joint pain is persistent and/or worsening.
A combination of joint supportive supplements can be beneficial. Consult with your doctor about which combination, if any, makes sense for you.
Like any supplements, joint health supplements can come with side effects. Some include nausea, diarrhea or constipation, changes in heartbeat, and increased intestinal gas.