- Top 5 Vitamins Supplements for Healthy Joints
- 1. Fish Oil
- 2. Calcium
- 3. Vitamin D
- 4. Glucosamine
- 5. Chondroitin
- Other Prevention Strategies
- References for Top 5 Vitamins for Healthy Joints
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
- Orthopedic Care in Ohio
- What Supplements Can Treat Knee Osteoarthritis?
- 4 supplements that may ease arthritis pain
- Here are four nutritionist-recommended supplements for joint pain.
- What is inflammation?
- What causes inflammation?
- How to Reduce Inflammation
- Best Supplements for Inflammation
- 5 Foods and 5 Supplements to Promote A Healthy Inflammatory Response
- 6 Supplements That (May) Ease Your Joint Pain
- What’s a Person With Arthritis to Do?
Top 5 Vitamins Supplements for Healthy Joints
Many people take a daily multi-vitamin to ensure that they are getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals they need each day. Although it’s recommended to get the bulk of daily nutrients from food, supplements can help pick up the slack when nutritious meals fall short. These are five of the best vitamins to take regularly to promote good joint health.
1. Fish Oil
The omega-3 fatty acid contained in fish oil pills is often associated with a healthy heart and glowing skin.1 However, it also plays a role in supporting the joints. Fatty acids help to prevent certain enzymes from damaging the joints and is known to help reduce inflammation.2,3 This is a particularly good supplement to take if one suffers from knee pain or have rheumatoid arthritis. It is also possible to get omega-3 fatty acids from fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds.4
Calcium is a familiar nutrient that is closely tied to bone and joint health.5 It is the nutrient associated with helping to form the bones and teeth and keep them strong.7,8 Calcium pills can be effective in reducing joint inflammation and pain, especially in the knee joints. Dark leafy greens, milk, yogurt, and broccoli are examples of foods high in calcium.6,7,8 As a general rule, women are more likely to need to supplement with calcium than men.6,8
3. Vitamin D
Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D tend to suffer from joint pain more frequently. Vitamin D also assists in the body’s absorption of calcium.5,9 By taking this vitamin, one can help strengthen the bones and joints. It is possible to find vitamins that contain both calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be obtained through fortified milk and pure sunlight.
Glucosamine is a lesser-known nutrient that may also be helpful to joint pain sufferers.10 This one is often recommended for knee joints because it helps to rebuild bone and prevent wear of the cartridge. Glucosamine may also help with inflammation that accompanies joint pain.11 This is a good supplement to know for older adults with osteoarthritis because glucosamine levels tend to decline with age. It may take several months to see improvements in joint conditions after starting to take supplements like these.
Chondroitin is typically used alongside glucosamine to help prevent joint pain and rebuilt cartridge.11 These two nutrients are often found in the same supplements. Chondroitin is sometimes recommended to individuals with osteoarthritis because it has shown to help slow the progression of the disease.
Other Prevention Strategies
Like exercising,12,13 getting enough rest,14 and good ergonomics,15 taking vitamins is a preventative measure to help the body fight off joint pain before it strikes. Prevention strategies can go a long way in keeping the joints mobile, flexible, and pain-free.
However, joint pain sufferers should always discuss new supplements with a doctor to ensure they are necessary and won’t negatively interact with other medications taken. Fortunately, when healthy diet and lifestyle choices are paired with fast-acting joint pain relief creams like JointFlex, individuals with arthritis can continue to enjoy the activities they love.
References for Top 5 Vitamins for Healthy Joints
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in Joint Pain December 14, 2018 Tagged With: joint pain, orthopedics
A healthy diet can do wonders for many aspects of your well-being. Complementing your diet with supplements including vitamins can prevent colds and build strong bones. But many supplements can also help alleviate your joint pain.
Before you start taking any supplement, speak with your doctor to ensure that you are taking the right dosage and it doesn’t interfere with any over-the-counter or prescription medication you currently use. Plus, too much of a good thing may be toxic to your system. Like with any medication, take supplements only as prescribed or directed.
Here are some key supplements you may want to consider adding to your health regimen to relieve joint pain.
Vitamin C is known to ward off winter colds, but it is also a powerful antioxidant that fights against inflammation by serving as a cofactor in the synthesis of collagen, the primary protein in both joint tissue and bone. Vitamin C also fights infections that can result in joint inflammation and is highly recommended for those with compromised immune systems – especially those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, which can wreak havoc on joints.
Sometimes when you are deficient in a certain vitamin, your body lets you know. Such is the case with vitamin D. When you aren’t getting enough, you may get pain in your joints. Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve joint pain.
Vitamin D also can help manage autoimmune conditions that affect the joints, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 diabetes. A body deficient in vitamin D causes bones to lose strength and soften – a condition known as osteomalacia in adults, and rickets in children. The deficiency may also contribute to conditions such as RA, osteoporosis, and fractures.
What do a kale salad, a glass of cold milk, and a salmon steak have in common? Besides being delicious and great for you, each contains calcium, a nutrient essential for preventing osteoporosis and building joint strength. As a natural anti-inflammatory, calcium reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and keeps bones strong and healthy.
Instead of wearing copper-infused clothes to keep your body healthy, consider consuming it. No need to worry about munching on a penny though, because you can get copper from organ meats, potatoes, legumes, and dark, leafy greens.
Copper’s anti-inflammatory properties are well known and can help counteract joint pain caused by inflammation. As an added benefit, copper has been shown to reduce both heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
A handful of almonds, peanuts, and cashews – or a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread – are more than just hearty snacks. They also may help strengthen your bones, maintain nerve and muscle function, and keep your joint cartilage strong. That’s because these and other easy-to-find foods, including potatoes and spinach, contain magnesium, which is known to ease arthritis as well as joint pain and inflammation.
Found in leafy green veggies, whole grains, and fruit, folate – also known as folic acid – is a B vitamin that promotes healthy cell growth, relieves joint pain and inflammation, and prevents changes in your DNA that could lead to cancer.
Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables
ASU is effective at overcoming joint pain. Some patients taking ASU found that it helped lower their dosages of traditional anti-inflammatories.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
When beloved pets start to experience joint pain or hip dysplasia, some pet owners give them glucosamine and chondroitin. What’s good enough for Fido is actually great for your joints as well. That’s because glucosamine and/or chondroitin can slow down and even ward off the progression of joint damage.
Known for its many healing qualities, this golden spice helps reduce inflammation when taken regularly. Some doctors prescribe turmeric capsules for joint pain, arthritis, and diabetic nerve pain. That’s because turmeric blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is the target of drug celecoxib.
Orthopedic Care in Ohio
If you are suffering from joint pain, the highly skilled and board-certified physicians at Spectrum Orthopaedics will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include supplements, pain management, and other orthopedic and rehabilitation services.
Call the friendly staff at our North Canton office at (330) 305-0838 or toll-free at (844) 469-2663 to schedule your appointment, or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you with comprehensive and compassionate orthopedic care.
What Supplements Can Treat Knee Osteoarthritis?
Many people with knee osteoarthritis have heard that different supplements may ease symptoms, or even prevent cartilage from degenerating. Is any of this information true?
Once the knee joint cartilage degenerates, it’s irreversible. But treatment can ease symptoms and slow degeneration. Watch: Knee Osteoarthritis Video
A new study weighed in on the potential benefits of vitamin D supplements—and found that they don’t seem to help.
The new randomized, controlled study—which included 400 participants and lasted 2 years—found no decrease in pain or improvement in knee cartilage condition for those with knee OA who took vitamin D supplements, compared with those who took a placebo.1
4 supplements that may ease arthritis pain
If vitamin D doesn’t seem to help ease arthritis symptoms, what supplements do? Research is still ongoing and there’s no definite proof to support a supplement as treatment for OA.
See Dietary Supplements for Treating Arthritis
But there are 4 supplements that have been well researched and, so far, seem to offer benefits to those with arthritis:
- Turmeric (curcumin)
This root, commonly used in Indian cooking, has several different anti-inflammatory properties that seem to counteract arthritis symptoms. To get the most from curcumin, experts recommend 200 to 1000 mg of curcumin per day of a product labeled as containing 95% curcuminoids.
See Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis
Ginger and turmeric are part of the same plant family, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ginger also has helpful anti-inflammatory properties. Recommended dosage is a 100 to 225 mg ginger capsule daily.
See Add Ginger to Help Arthritis Pain
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
These supplements are believed to promote cartilage formation and repair. But research is mixed about its benefits, and some experts believe they may not be effective for everyone.
See Summary of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Studies
- Fish oil
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have lots of great anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re not interested in fish oil supplements, you can also try following an anti-inflammatory diet that’s rich in foods like fish and dark, leafy greens.
See What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
Supplements are not regulated by the FDA and also can interfere with some medications, so talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement to make sure it’s right for you.
Do Curcumin Supplements Have Drawbacks?
The Ins and Outs of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- 1.Jin X, Jones G, Cicuttini F, et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Tibial Cartilage Volume and Knee Pain Among Patients With Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016;315(10):1005-1013. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.1961. Written from abstract.
Many people take vitamins and supplements to help ease joint pain and arthritis. How effective are these supplements? Here are tips to help you choose the right supplements for your joints.
Arthritis Joint Pain: Supplements and Herbs
Some people use supplements to try to help manage joint pain from arthritis. Glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3, and green tea are just a few of them.
Glucosamine helps keep the cartilage in joints healthy and may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Natural glucosamine levels drop as people age.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and other foods, encourage the body to produce chemicals that help control inflammation. This supplement may help ease stiffness caused by inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed.
Green tea contains compounds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in combating join pain.
Vitamin D is very important for people with joint pain. Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D may have more joint pain.
Information About Vitamins and Supplements
Do you know how to evaluate vitamins and supplements? There are so many vitamins, supplements, and herbal extracts on the shelves. Use these tips to find out which ones may be right for you.
Safe Upper Limits for Vitamins and Minerals
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, how much should you take? Find out the safe upper limits for the vitamins you take, as well as the recommended daily allowance you may need.
As for herbal supplements, ask your doctor about how much you should take. You may also follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Vitamin and Supplement Glossary: Common Definitions
This glossary provides simple definitions for common terms such as antioxidants, fat soluble, or phytochemicals. Find out what the lingo really means.
If you and your girlfriends want your yoga-and-brunch ritual to last into your golden years, it’s important to take steps now to ensure you can keep up with your on-the-go lifestyle later—minus any joint pain.
Okay, so this topic may not be as fun as chatting about, say, your latest sexcapades or all the ways you’re killing it at work. But to be the fittest resident at the retirement home, you should start upping your joint-care game ASAP. Because let’s be honest: You can’t exactly grease creaky knees or achy elbows as quickly and easily as the Soulcycle staff can lube up that squeaky wheel on Bike 15.
“The effects that can come along with joint pain can be really limiting, especially for super active people,” says New York City-based dietitian Kelly Hogan, MS, RD. “Even if you’re young and fit, you probably think ahead and know you want to do your favorite activities for years to come. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind what you’re putting in your body.”
The first step in maintaining good joint health, Hogan says, is to eat a healthy, colorful diet. “We tend to forget that foods can be anti-inflammatory, and those anti-inflammatory properties support good joint health,” she says. So make sure you’re eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (avocado, please!), salmon and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, beans, and legumes. And don’t just chow down on the rainbow for a week and then call it quits if you want lasting effects. “All the anti-inflammatory properties in these foods add up,” Hogan says. “And when consumed over the long term, they support good joint health.”
And what if you’re doing all that, but you’re still noticing your knees and hips feel sore after a long run? You may want to consider adding supplements to your well-rounded diet. “You shouldn’t rely on supplements for joint pain or joint health,” Hogan says. “At the end of the day, your diet as a whole over the long term is more important and beneficial. But think of supplements as just that: a healthy supplement to what you’re already doing.”
Here are four nutritionist-recommended supplements for joint pain.
Photo: Getty Images/Cathy Scola
1. Vitamin D
Many people, particularly in the winter, are deficient in vitamin D. (Go to your doctor for a quick blood test to find out if your own supply is running low.) “Vitamin D is great for bone health, which can be related to good joint health,” Hogan says. “And joint pain in particular tends to occur when we are low in vitamin D.” Bonus points if you pair it with magnesium—a recent study showed it’s better absorbed that way.
This yellow-hued spice is super buzzy, and for good reason. Curcumin—the active antioxidant in turmeric that has all those good anti-inflammatory properties—has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Just check with your doctor before adding turmeric to your supplement regimen, since you don’t want it to interact with any other medications you might be taking. (It can have blood-thinning properties, for starters, which makes it a no-go before surgery.)
Just a few grams of fish oil or algae oil per day can help soothe stiff, tender, swollen, achy joints, and can help increase blood flow throughout the body during exercise. (You can also add flaxseed or flax oil to your diet, Hogan recommends.)
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory that’s considered relatively safe with few concerning side effects. For serious joint pain, Hogan recommends a ginger supplement, which is a super-concentrated form of the root that you wouldn’t be able to consume naturally. “It’s hard to eat that much of any food in order to get the amount of antioxidants you’d need to reap the benefits,” she says. But if you’re just in maintenance mode, sipping on ginger tea will do you just fine.
These trainer-approved tips will help you keep post-workout soreness to a minimum. Or you could always try soothing your aching muscles with CBD.
Taking the best anti-inflammatory supplements can help reduce swelling, redness, and pain in all parts of the body. Inflammation is something that many of us are quite familiar with, even on a day-to-day basis. When we accidentally hit our head or develop a cold, our body’s natural response is to inflame the affected area to fight off any potential immune system threats. It’s a healthy reaction we need in order to heal from injuries and diseases, as long as it goes away. When it doesn’t, inflammation becomes a problem and turns from acute to chronic.
What is inflammation?
As mentioned before, inflammation is a natural bodily reaction to injury or illness. If we get more technical, this is when our brain signals white blood cells to flood the area of pain. Without inflammation, it would be much harder for our bodies to recover. But bumps, bugs, and bruises aren’t the only triggers of inflammation. Toxins and other harmful substances, like cigarette smoke, can set it off. When acute inflammation starts lasting longer than it should, chronic inflammation is formed. This can affect all aspects of your health, and it is an indication that your body can’t fend off what inflamed it in the first place. While diseases such as asthma and Crohn’s are directly linked to inflammation, more and more research suggests that inflammation is linked to many other disorders and illnesses. Dr. Axe, a doctor of natural medicine, believes that inflammation is actually at the root of most diseases. Another study done at Harvard Medical School has shown similar findings around this theory.
What causes inflammation?
Chronic inflammation comes from your body’s inability to heal properly and dispose of unwanted toxins. Inflammation can happen anywhere in your body, from your head to your intestines to your arteries. External factors, like diet, smoking, and pollution, can contribute just as much as internal factors, like stress and illness. When inflammation doesn’t go away or begins to target areas that aren’t threats to your body, this is considered chronic inflammation. When stress hormones are released too frequently, it may induce or worsen inflammation. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the direct connection between disease and inflammation, especially which one comes first. Either way, chronic inflammation isn’t healthy, but it can be lessened and prevented.
(Photo: Getty Images)
How to Reduce Inflammation
A big part of reducing inflammation doesn’t come from supplements, pills, or medications. It all starts with an anti-inflammatory diet. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into what you eat on a daily basis is the foundation for preventing inflammation from going haywire. The list of these foods is plentiful and includes items like green leafy vegetables, fruits high in antioxidants, fatty fishes, and nuts. On the reverse side, try to stay away from processed foods and refined sugars. Consuming processed or sugary foods and drinks, like cookies, french fries, and soda, can actually worsen inflammation.
Surprisingly, coffee may also help prevent inflammation because of the polyphenols and anti-inflammatory compounds it contains. Even though it’s a highly acidic beverage, there is no known negative connection between coffee and inflammation. That said, adding sugar or milk can cause inflammation. If you have an ulcer, gastritis, or other intestinal and digestive problems, it’s still best to stay away from drinking your morning latte.
Aside from your diet, yoga and other gentle physical activities may keep inflammation at bay. In one study, participants took part in a three-month yoga retreat and had their levels of inflammatory markers tested afterwards. After participating, researchers found significant decreases in inflammatory markers and metabolic risk factors. Taking time to calm your brain and your body will be beneficial in keeping chronic inflammation away.
Lastly, including supplements in your diet can be helpful when combatting inflammation. Roots, like ginger and turmeric, can work wonders, as well as fish oil and resveratrol. As a gentle reminder: With any medication or supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting something new.
Best Supplements for Inflammation
Ready to put your body at easy? Keep scrolling to find the best supplements that can help you reduce and prevent inflammation in all parts of the body.
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By Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD The health benefits of choosing whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains over processed foods are nearly endless. One of the primary benefits of these nutrient-rich foods is that they can reduce inflammation in the body. Exercise can cause acute or short-term inflammation, which is normal. A proper diet helps keep this inflammation under control. What is most concerning is the potential for chronic inflammation as a result of poor diet, stress and/or improper or overtraining in those who exercise vigorously. This combination puts you at higher risk for injury and illness. Reducing inflammation in your body can help you train more consistently, recover faster from injuries, perform at your highest level and ultimately prevent chronic disease. Let’s take a closer look at how food combats inflammation. Carbohydrates, protein and fat are your sources of energy (carbs), the building blocks of cells (protein) and the means to absorb vitamins (fat). Both vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in muscle contraction, blood flow, tissue repair and healing. Some are more important than others.
9 diet tips for reducing inflammation
- Choose whole-grain starches, fresh whole fruits and vegetables. These are more nutrient-dense and contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain and improve health.
- Consume a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables and grains from week to week to obtain the most nutritional bang for your buck.
- Limit refined starches (white versions) and added sugars (white or brown sugar, soda, energy drinks). These less nutrient-dense foods promote inflammatory symptoms such as weight gain and elevated blood glucose and lipid levels.
- Choose skinless poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and fat-free Greek yogurt. These are quality sources of protein, as well as additional sources of calcium, vitamin D, probiotics and unsaturated fat.
- Limit high-fat red meat such as prime rib, bacon and sausage, as well as processed meats like bologna, salami and hot dogs. These are higher in saturated fat, which if consumed in excess will increase inflammation.
- Choose monounsaturated and omega-3 fats, which are thought to neutralize inflammation. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados and nuts. Research shows consumption of these fats is associated with decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, which are associated with inflammation.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found in wild salmon and tuna, walnuts, and ground flaxseed. Omega-3 is an essential fat that our bodies cannot make. We must obtain it from dietary sources or supplements. Research shows that this form of fat can decrease inflammation associated with exercise.
- Limit saturated fat. This includes butter, whole milk, cheese, high-fat red meat and skin on poultry. Our bodies only require a small amount; therefore, daily excess intake will exacerbate the inflammatory response.
- Avoid trans fat altogether. This includes prepackaged baked goods, flavored coffee creams (liquid and powder), some brands of shelf-stable peanut butter, and chocolate- or yogurt-coated snacks. There is no safe level of trans fat. It decreases good cholesterol and not only raises bad cholesterol (considered pro-inflammatory) but recycles and reuses it.
Besides the foods you eat, vitamins and supplements are important to consider. Here are some recommendations that work best for people who exercise vigorously: Vitamin A: 10,000 IU daily for one to two weeks post-injury may enhance healing Vitamin C: 1-2 g daily temporarily during intense training or if recovering from minor injury Copper: 2-4 mg daily during the first few weeks of injury recovery (adequate amount found in average multivitamin) Zinc: 15-30 mg daily during the first few weeks of injury recovery (adequate amount found in average multivitamin) Turmeric: an ingredient found in curry powder. Curcumin is an antioxidant compound in turmeric, which gives curry and mustard their yellow color and offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Consider adding turmeric to your spice rack, or for a more aggressive approach, you can take 400 mg daily in supplement form. Garlic: Research shows it can reduce production of two inflammatory enzymes and may be helpful in keeping arteries flexible and clear, allowing for oxygen-rich blood to get to working muscles. Cooking with two to four garlic cloves daily will add plenty of flavor, plus fight inflammation. If you rarely cook, consider taking 600-1,200 mg of aged garlic extract. Bromelain: an enzyme found in pineapple juice. Research shows it is an anti-inflammatory. Grab a glass of pineapple juice post-workout or add it to your recovery smoothie for plenty of immune-enhancing vitamin C and inflammation-fighting benefits. It’s important to consider carefully the way you fuel your body. A proper diet and supplements will help keep inflammation under control.
5 Foods and 5 Supplements to Promote A Healthy Inflammatory Response
December 11th, 2019
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Inflammation is a blazing red flag in Functional Medicine. I find most conditions such as joint pain, IBS, autoimmune disorders, eczema and mood imbalances can all be tied back to inflammation. It must be traced, identified and eliminated in order to truly get to the root of these adverse conditions. As you get to the origin of your inflammation, these foods and supplements can help support your body’s response to inflammation.
Foods to Reduce Inflammation
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, obstructs the activity of enzymes that trigger inflammation. You can add turmeric to foods such as soups and curries, or take it in the form of a curcumin supplement.
A relative of turmeric, ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. It is also a potent antioxidant, preventing the oxidation of a damaging free radical called peroxynitrite. Try adding ginger to a stir-fry, or drink ginger tea.
Blueberries are packed with phytonutrients that can help to reduce inflammation, pain and even tissue damage from free radicals. Eat fresh, or blend into a smoothie.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated oleic fatty acids, phytosterols, and many more anti-inflammatory nutrients. They are particularly effective at lowering inflammation of the joints, by preventing the synthesis of prostaglandin E2 in the connective tissue.
Salmon and other oily fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which inhibit the body’s inflammatory response process. If you do not eat fish or would like an extra boost in your diet, you can purchase Omega-3 supplements.
Supplements to Support A Healthy Inflammatory Response
Research has shown the properties of curcumin to be as effective as some pharmaceuticals at supporting the body’s response to inflammation, but without the negative effect of toxicity. This powerful antioxidant also supports joint health and cardiovascular function.
This extract found in red-wine helps support the body’s inflammatory response, regulate the malfunctioning immune response, and protect against cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which triggers inflammation. Our fish oil is designed using emulsification technology that enhances absorption by the body.
4. The Myers Way® Paleo Protein:
Ideal for patients with intestinal issues, this powder’s blend of nutrients and amino acids helps support a balanced inflammatory response in the body.
5. Evening Primrose:
The unrefined evening primrose seed oil supplies a concentrated dose of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an Omega-6 fatty acid that is commonly lacking in the diet. GLA is converted by the body into DGLA, to promote a healthy response to inflammation.
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6 Supplements That (May) Ease Your Joint Pain
In 2012, the nutritional supplement industry made about $32 billion in revenue. But do supplements really work?
Unfortunately, we don’t know the absolute answer, because there’s a lack of well-designed, large scale randomized clinical trials in this area. However, some studies have found that certain supplements could provide moderate improvements in arthritis symptoms and progression.
Here are six common supplements for arthritis and the evidence of their effects on joint pain.
1. Glucosamine. This supplement may very well exert both analgesic and disease-modifying actions. Beware, though, because any positive effect is usually not super dramatic.
A recent six-month study by Kwoh and colleagues didn’t find any significant differences between a group taking glucosamine hydrochloride compared to a placebo group drinking diet lemonade daily. However, some researchers have pointed out that some benefit is seen when people take a glucosamine sulfate formulation is taken, especially for longer than six months.
2. Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU). There is a generally positive trend for ASU in most small scale trials that studied the effects of this supplement. In particular, patients taking ASU required a lower dosage of traditional pain relievers. Overall, it appears that this supplement is most effective in patients with knee arthritis.
3. Chondroitin. Lab studies have revealed that chondroitin sulfate can actually suppress inflammatory pathways in the body. Some studies also postulate that this supplement can actually ward off or slow down the progression of joint damage. However, when multiple studies that looked at thousands of patients are pooled together, the evidence shows only borderline benefit.
4. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Studies have shown that a 12-week course of supplementation with MSM led to significant reduction in both pain and physical disability. However, there’s not much data regarding side effects or interactions with other medications for MSU.
5. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs). The ever-expanding health benefits of PUFAs seem to grow daily. Research has repeatedly revealed improvement in overall joint pain, as well as less need for conventional pain medications in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who take fatty acid supplementation.
6. Ginger Extract. There’s early evidence that ginger can have therapeutic benefits similar to over-the-counter pain relievers. The analgesic benefit has been shown in a few studies to be above and beyond a simple placebo effect. Studies are showing that it can not only help with pain, but also with morning stiffness.
What’s a Person With Arthritis to Do?
The most important action you can take is to be under the care of a good physician who will listen to you and work with you to find solutions for your pain and inflammation.
Work With Your Doctor. Ultimately, you should inform your physician of any and all supplements you do take. There can be significant and potentially serious medication interactions and side effects related to supplements, no matter how benign they sound.
One prime example is interactions with blood thinners. Some can increase or decrease other medication concentrations in your body. I would also not advise any pregnant or lactating women to start this type of supplementation.
Set Realistic Expectations. If you do have chronic, progressive arthritis and you and your physician think you’re a good candidate for supplementation, then do so with the understanding that these are not super potent instant fixes. Rather, most seem to work moderately at best and over time. Setting realistic expectations is key when dealing with chronic disease.