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Whether you’re a serious athlete pursuing gold medal dreams or just a jogger that likes to be healthy, joint supplements can help protect your joints from present pain and future damage. If you’ve been thinking about adding a joint supplement to your training routine, you’ve probably noticed there are a lot of joint supplements on the market that all claim to improve your joint health. But what does that mean?
Since they all claim to be good for your joints, it seems like the price would be the only factor that matters. But, not all supplements are the same. While all of them support your joint health, there are different ingredients in each supplement. Many supplements are in a capsule, while some are powders. Each supplement will have a different dosing schedule. You will take a supplement anywhere from one to three times a day. So, how do you know which one is right for you?
Starting Simple: What Are Joints
Before choosing a joint supplement, you first need to understand what a joint is and what it does for you. A joint is a flexible connection between two bones. That connection is what allows you to bend and move. There are several different tissues that comprise the joint. These are cartilage, synovium, and synovial fluid. Each of these tissues has a different function but, when they work together, they allow your joints to bend and stretch. Healthy joints allow you to move easily and without pain. Damage to the joint decreases your flexibility and ability to move pain-free.
You use your joints daily in normal activities like walking, bending and reaching. Over time and with repeated use, even this normal activity can stress and damage your joints. As you age, this damage can cause pain and a decrease in flexibility. When you exercise regularly or train hard for an athletic event, you can speed up this damage. Joint supplements can help defend your joints from that damage, stress and eventual pain.
Why Should I Take a Joint Supplement
Eating a healthy diet can help protect your joints. Foods that contain a lot of Omega-3 and Vitamin D can help reduce inflammation. Citrus fruits, cherries, green tea, and fish are all great sources for these nutrients as are animal proteins. However, food alone cannot provide enough of these inflammation-fighting nutrients. Most diets do not include enough of these foods to improve joint health. Including a joint supplement can help fill in the gaps that even the healthiest diet can’t provide.
What Do Joint Supplements Do
Joint supplements help you feel less pain in your joints by decreasing inflammation that occurs as a result of joint damage. But, instead of masking the pain, joint supplements try to improve your overall joint health. Joint supplements can’t reverse any joint damage that has already occurred. However, joint supplements can help prevent future damage from occurring. This, in turn, helps reduce pain and stiffness in your joints and can help improve the flexibility in your joints.
Taking joint supplements can help support your joints during athletic training. Not only can repeated workouts be hard on the joints today, but those workouts can cause problems in the future. For example, osteoarthritis, pain in the joints which is caused by cartilage deterioration, is common in former athletes. Including joint supplements in your diet can help reduce damage to your joints and possibly slow the development of osteoarthritis.
Do Joint Supplements Work
There have been some studies on joint supplements and their effect on joints. While physically there were no visible changes in the joints after taking certain supplements, some studies have found that taking joint supplements can slow joint damage. While many patients reported that they felt their pain levels decrease while taking a joint supplement, other patients did not feel the same level of pain relief. Many studies have concluded that taking a joint supplement for pain relief is no different than taking a placebo.
Joint supplements are generally considered safe, although they may interact with certain medications. Some people have taken joint supplements and have experienced allergic reactions. Many joint supplements include shellfish-based ingredients. However, there are some formulations that are allergy friendly. Also, if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, most supplements include animal products but some supplements are vegetarian-friendly.
What Kind of Joint Supplements Are There
While there are many kinds of joint supplements out there, the most commonly used ones are glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). It is not uncommon to also see turmeric, vitamin D, and calcium as additional ingredients in joint supplements. Whether the supplement is in capsule or powder form, you may have to take the supplement between one and three times a day. You sprinkle Powdered versions on your food.
Glucosamine is one of the main ingredients in cartilage. Your joints produce glucosamine naturally. Glucosamine also helps build tendons, ligaments, and synovial fluid — the fluid that helps lubricate your joints and allows them to bend and flex easily.
Chondroitin helps draw fluids into the joint to support and cushion it. It is a naturally occurring compound that helps build cartilage in the joints.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulfur compound that your body also produces naturally. MSM helps repair connective tissues in the joints but also aids digestion.
Not just a spice for curries, turmeric is often found in joint supplements. Turmeric contains curcumin, a chemical thought to naturally decrease inflammation.
How Do Joint Supplements Work
Joint supplements are thought to work by reducing inflammation in the joints. The ingredients in the supplement mimic the naturally produced chemicals in your joint tissue. Once absorbed by your body, the supplement will help increase lubrication of your joints and reduce future damage to them. The decreased inflammation should allow you to feel less pain in your joints.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are usually in preparations taken together. While it is not clear how it works, taking them at the same time allows the body to better absorb them. Most joint supplements that include glucosamine also include chondroitin and vice versa. However, it is possible to buy glucosamine and chondroitin as separate supplements if you prefer.
Where Can I Purchase Joint Supplements
Joint supplements are available online, at the corner drug store and even big box stores. They are available without a doctor’s prescription. While they are considered safe, the FDA does not regulate them.
How Much Will I Pay for Joint Supplements
The price range of joint supplements starts as low as $20 for a bottle of capsules and can go as high as $395 for large quantities of the powdered versions. However, you should keep in mind that a less expensive price isn’t necessarily the best way to choose a joint supplement. Some of the capsules require you to take them three times a day. This means that while you paid for a bottle of 30 capsules that doesn’t mean it is a 30-day supply. If you have to take your supplement 3 times a day, you will use up your supply in 10 days.
How We Reviewed Joint Supplements
We looked at supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin together. Some of these joint supplements also include MSM and/or turmeric. We also examined user reviews. We did not consider price as a factor given that the required dosage will affect how long a supply lasts and therefore, changes what you are paying per dose or per day.
Our Top 10 Joint Supplement Recommendations
We’ve rounded up the 10 best choices for joint supplements. All of them have glucosamine and chondroitin as the main ingredients. And while we have included a price and number of individual capsules or packets supplied, we do not mention how often you need to take the supplement.
Flex-XT Joint Support Supplement
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars, Flex-XT Joint Support Supplement is priced between $14 and $20 for 30 capsules. In addition to glucosamine and chondroitin, this product also includes turmeric to support joint health. The company stands behind their product, offering a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the supplements.
Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM
This Glucosamine Chondroitin supplement is rated 5 out of 5 stars and gives you 90 capsules for anywhere from $20 to $30. This product uses non-GMO ingredients and includes turmeric to help decrease inflammation in your joints.
Zenwise Health Joint Support
Zenwise Health Joint Support is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars. Priced between $20 and $27 for 180 tablets, these joint supplements include glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and turmeric. They will help improve your joint flexibility.
Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars, Thorne Glucosamine and Chondroitin is a dairy-free, corn-free, yeast-free, and sugar-free joint supplement. You can expect to pay between $25 and $35 for a 90 capsule bottle.
Vintage Bend Joint & Bone Supplement
Tested by third parties and backed by a money back guarantee, Vintage Bend Joint & Bone Supplement has glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric. The keto-friendly product has 4.6 out of 5 stars and costs between $25 and $30 for 120 capsules.
Animal Flex Complete Joint Supplement
Formulated for serious athletes, Animal Flex Complete Joint Supplement cost between $25 and $35 for 44 packets of powdered supplement. Having won the “Joint Supplement of the Year” award 8 years in a row, it has a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating. Sprinkle the packet of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM on your food once a day for better joint health.
Containing glucosamine and chondroitin, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, Natural Factors joint supplements costs between $30 and $40 for 240 capsules. These joint supplements will help support healthy joints.
Encompass Nutrients not only supports your joint health with glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, but the company also donates 100 percent of their profits to charities that help orphaned children all over the world. Derived from shellfish, the 4.4 out of 5 stars rated product will cost between $20 and $30 for a 90 capsule bottle.
Allergy friendly Arazo Nutrition joint supplements contain no soy, peanuts, eggs, binders, fillers or preservatives. You can expect to pay between $15 to $20 for 180 capsules. The 4.6 out of 5 stars product contains glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and turmeric.
Vimerson Health is a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and shellfish-free joint supplement backed by a money-back guarantee. The 4.5 out of 5 stars product has glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and turmeric. For a 90 capsule bottle, you will likely pay between $20 and $30.
Our Final Thoughts on Joint Supplements
There is no one right choice for joint supplements. The total price alone does not reflect what you might pay per dose. And, you have to choose between powder and capsule forms. While the jury is still out about how effective joint supplements can be for pain control, there are those who swear that they work. With a safety record that shows no major side effects, choosing a supplement to add to your training is a personal choice that ultimately comes down to whether or not you feel results in your joints.
Please note that this article is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. Always talk with your doctor before using any supplements, over-the-counter medications, or natural remedies.