Medically Reviewed by
Diana Morgan, MS, CISSN
6 min read
Your joint health is important to pay attention to throughout your life. Joints are the point of connection between bones in your body and allow you to move and bend. Exercise can put wear and tear on your joints (particularly in your hands, elbows, knees, and shoulders) and general aging can too. As you age, the cartilage in your joints can degrade causing stiffness, discomfort, and decreased range of motion.
Whether it’s preventative care or taking care of joints that have already experienced some strain, vitamins and supplements can help you keep your joints healthy.
A joint is a connection between two bones in your body — think your knees, elbows, where your fingers bend etc. Just as it is important to keep your bones and muscles healthy, it is equally important to keep your joints strong and stable. Healthy joints allow you to move with stability and control. In contrast, weak or injured joints reduce your mobility and cause discomfort where your bones rub together.
Although injuries like joint tears are possible, most joint issues actually occur slowly and as a normal part of aging. This can mean that your joint health is often overlooked until you experience joint discomfort, weakness, or a reduced range of motion. For example, the cartilage in your joints might be degraded or your joints have lost their flexibility for movement. Most often, these long-term concerns are caused by normal everyday activities and overuse.
So what can you do to support your joint health? First, your diet. Incorporating healthy fatty acids from foods like salmon, nuts, and olive oil has been shown to impact your joint health.
Secondly, exercise. Healthy joints are strong, stable, and mobile so it’s important to move your body consistently and incorporate strengthening exercises into your routine from activities that don’t strain your joints, like swimming.
And finally, supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements that have been shown to support joint health can help you take a proactive approach each day to maintaining healthy joints.
Joint discomfort is common, especially as you age and put more strain on your joints. In fact, most joint issues and discomfort are caused by normal wear and tear.
Joint discomfort can also be caused by overuse (particularly if you’re an athlete who often does repetitive movements) or an acute injury. Most commonly joint discomfort shows up over time and is caused by the daily breakdown of cartilage in your joints from normal, everyday activities and exercise.
If you are experiencing joint discomfort, it is important to speak with your doctor about when it started, how long you’ve felt joint discomfort, and the specific location of your discomfort.
Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or a veggie omega, and vegetarian collagen from eggshell membrane can help support your joint health and mobility by supporting your body’s inflammatory response and providing key nutrients for joint health.
Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for your health and can only be obtained through your diet from foods like fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola, or from supplementing. Fish oil is a common omega-3 supplement and has shown initial promising results as an ingredient for joint health. One 12 month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that patients taking 2,600mg of omega-3 per day experienced less joint discomfort than those taking a placebo. These benefits of omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in a vegan supplement form. Algae oil is a great alternative to fish oil for vegetarians or vegans looking to incorporate omega-3s like EPA and DHA into their diets for joint health.
Vegetarian Collagen from Eggshell Membrane: Collagen is the main protein that makes up connective tissues in our bodies — including joint cartilage — and acts as a cushion between your bones. When cartilage starts to break down in your joints and your bones come into direct contact, you might experience discomfort or stiffness. Supplementing with eggshell membrane can help quickly relieve joint discomfort by targeting pro-inflammatory substances that are often associated with joint discomfort. In several recent studies, participants who were given eggshell membrane saw a significant reduction in cartilage degradation and joint discomfort in as little as 7 to 10 days.