Keep Those Joints Jumping: What You Should Know When Shopping For Joint Supplements

Health & Medical Blog

Over time, connective tissues in the knees, elbows, ankles and other joints start to degenerate. This can be the result of age-related osteoarthritis, and it can also result when joints take a beating, either in those who work in physical labor or those who engage in regular athletic activity. Joint supplements can also be helpful for those who have sustained sports injuries, such as torn anterior cruciate ligament tears, and need an extra boost to strengthen and nourish the repaired joint. Joint supplements may be used to stave off the onset of arthritis, and they may continue to be used as part of an arthritis treatment regimen after the degenerative disease sets in.

What Ingredients Should a Joint Supplement Contain?

When you start to read the labels on the numerous different bottles of joint supplements, discerning which ingredients are essential and which ones are not necessary can be frustrating. When you shop for a joint supplement, look for the three following key ingredients:

  • Glucosamine sulfate is responsible for maintaining the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones of your joints. It also aids in lubricating the joints and in slowing the progress of joint deterioration. Glucosamine sulfate is extracted from the shells of shrimp, lobsters and crabs.
  • Chondroitin sulfate enables the cartilage in your joints to better absorb impact. It also aids in water retention within the cartilage and helps to slow the progression of joint deterioration. Chondroitin works together with glucosamine to help repair and regenerate deteriorated cartilage. Chondroitin is commonly extracted from shark cartilage.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, helps to reduce pain and inflammation and to rebuild connective tissue. MSM is found in many unprocessed foods.

You Don't Need the Extras

Some joint supplements contain vitamin D, calcium, zinc and other nutrients. Complete multivitamins contain these things, and many calcium supplements include vitamin D as well. You do not need additional vitamin D from a joint supplement. In some cases, such as with vitamin D or vitamin C, when you take in more than your body needs, it will expel the excess from your system. This means that while you may not be consuming a dangerous overdose, you are wasting your money if you are paying more for a joint supplement that contains it. In other cases, such as with calcium or selenium, taking too much can put you at risk for other health problems. Get your vitamins and minerals from food and from complete multivitamins, and avoid them in your chosen joint supplement.

Who Should Not Take Joint Supplements?

Some individuals are not candidates for joint supplementation, including those in the following groups:

  • Diabetics, because glucosamine and chondroitin can cause a potential rise in blood sugar levels
  • Those who are allergic to shellfish
  • Those who are taking blood thinning medications
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing
  • Children who are less than 19 years of age

How Much Should You Take?

Since the Food and Drug Administration does not officially approve nutritional supplements, it has made no specific recommended daily allowance for these ingredients. If you are a candidate for adding a joint supplement to your nutrition plan, follow the dosing instructions on the label of your chosen product. It can take four to eight weeks to notice an improvement in your mobility and comfort, but some people observe these improvements sooner.


8 November 2016

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