Maintaining optimal joint health is essential for leading an active and fulfilling life. Your joints, which connect bones and allow for movement, are subject to wear and tear over time, leading to discomfort, stiffness, and reduced mobility. As a result, the popularity of joint health supplements has skyrocketed, offering a promising solution to alleviate joint-related issues.
Joint health supplements encompass a wide range of products, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural substances that aim to support joint function, reduce inflammation, and promote overall joint well-being. But are these supplements truly beneficial, and who stands to gain the most from their usage?
Before diving into the research on joint health supplements, let’s first understand what you should look for in supplementation and if you should consider adding them to your routine.
Joint pain can affect anyone, but especially athletes, individuals older than 60 years old, women, or those who have arthritis.
In addition to making lifestyle and dietary changes to promote healthy joints (such as doing weight-bearing exercises and eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in protein), supplementation may also be beneficial, especially for people who are experiencing joint discomfort, COVID joint pain, or are at risk of developing joint issues.
Some evidence suggests supplements like glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and vitamin C can support joint health by reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms of related conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Below we break down the best science-backed joint health supplements worth considering. If you choose to take joint health supplements, look for ones that have been third-party tested
third-party testedto ensure you’re getting the highest quality possible.
Disclaimer: Supplements aren’t a magic potion for making joint pain disappear or to be used as a substitute for chronic pain medication. To see if joint health supplements are right for you, talk with your healthcare provider before adding anything new to your routine.
At Elo Health 1:1 dietitian support
Elo Health, we offer
1:1 dietitian supportso you can stay accountable, reach your health and fitness goals, and better understand your health. For example, if you’re looking to improve joint health, a Registered Dietitian can create a health plan for you that focuses on certain supplements and will be able to work with you on lifestyle topics like stress management, athletic performance, weight loss, energy, and more.
Elo also provides personalized smart supplements at-home blood testing biomarkers
personalized smart supplementsmade just for you through
at-home blood testing,
biomarkers, and data from wearables. After all, your nutrition needs are unique, and your supplement plan should be, too.
Proteinis an essential macronutrient composed of 20 different amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential” because your body cannot produce them and, therefore, must come from your diet. These 20 amino acids are considered the primary building blocks of your body since they are found in tissues (including organs, bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and skin), hormones, enzymes, red blood cells, and more.
Research continues to show the importance of this crucial macronutrient, as it’s been found to promote the repair and growth of muscle tissue, prevent injury, and promote overall strength [ 1
1]. This is especially important for joint health, as muscle strength may protect joints from excessive wear and tear.
Protein can also be beneficial for maintaining muscle mass loss that comes with aging or osteoarthritis. One study found that people with osteoarthritis who took a protein supplement experienced improvements in muscle mass and strength, reduced pain, better physical mobility, and better global functioning compared to those who didn’t supplement [ 2
The current RDA is 0.8 g protein/kg of body weight/day (g/kg/day) for all adults over 18 years of age, including elderly adults over the age of 65 [ 3 4
3]. However, studies also indicate that people over 65 years old may benefit from higher intakes of 1 to 1.2 g/kg/day [
If you are an athlete or highly active individual, research shows that you may need 1.2-2.0 g/kg/day, depending on training needs and goals [ 5
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Collagen 6 here
Collagenis the most abundant protein in the human body and is the main component of connective tissues (like skin, bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage) that provides structure, support, and protection throughout the body [
6]. Learn more about the different types of collagen
As you age, your body naturally loses collagen, which may increase your risk of degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis [ 7 8 9
7]. However, some research shows collagen supplementation may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, as well as potentially reduce pain and inflammation, joint stiffness, and the risk of joint deterioration in athletes [
Research shows that taking 2.5–15 g of hydrolyzed collagen peptides/day may be safe and effective; however, the amount of collagen you should take depends on the particular supplement and why you’re taking it [ 10
For instance, studies have found doses of 10 g/day of hydrolyzed collagen or 10-40 mg/day of undenatured type II collagen may be beneficial for reducing joint pain associated with osteoarthritis as well as exercise-related joint pain in active adults [ 8 9 11
While most people can safely take collagen, individuals with allergies to meat, fish, shellfish, and eggs should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients.
Additionally, you may want to hold off on taking a collagen supplement if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding since there isn’t enough research on whether or not they’re safe in these populations [ 12
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C 13
vitamin Cis an antioxidant that is necessary for collagen synthesis. It’s also involved with protein metabolism and may help to prevent or delay the development of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers [
Furthermore, emerging evidence shows that vitamin C plays a role in bone health, as it has the potential to accelerate bone healing after a fracture, increase type I collagen synthesis, boost bone density, and reduce oxidative stress parameters [ 14 15 16
Since your body doesn't naturally produce vitamin C, it’s necessary to obtain it through certain foods and supplements.
The recommended daily amount (RDA) for adults is as follows [ 13
Men and women 9–13 years old: 45 mg/day
Men 14-18 years old: 75 mg/day
Women 14-18 years old: 65 mg/day, with this number increasing to 80 mg/day and 115 mg/day for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.
Men over 19 years old: 90 mg/day
Women over 19 years old: 75 mg/day, with this number increasing to 85 mg/day and 120 mg/day for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.
People who smoke: an additional 35 mg/day than nonsmokers.
While many people can tolerate vitamin C, you should talk with your healthcare provider about taking it since it may cause specific drug-nutrient interactions, increase cardiovascular disease risk, or negatively affect iron stores for those with hemochromatosis [ 17 18 19
Turmericis a bright yellow spice made from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound in turmeric that gives this spice its bright yellow color and potent anti-inflammatory properties.
You can obtain curcumin through a turmeric supplement. While there is no standard dose for turmeric, the World Health Organization has established 1.4 mg of curcumin/pound of body weight (0–3 mg/kg) as an acceptable daily intake [ 22
It’s strongly advised to avoid turmeric supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have certain conditions (like diabetes, gallstones, gallbladder or kidney disease, bleeding disorders, or immunity problems), have an upcoming surgery, or are taking certain medications.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acidsare polyunsaturated fats vital to cell membranes and other body functions. Because your body can’t naturally produce them, omega-3s are considered to be essential nutrients that must be consumed through diet and supplements.
While these fatty acids are incredibly beneficial for overall health, studies also show that omega-3s are crucial for joint health, as they can reduce swelling and joint tenderness, allow for a better range of motion after exercise, reduce strength loss, and modulate disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis [ 23 24
The daily recommendation for all omega-3s is 1,600 mg/day for men and 1,100 mg/day for women [ 25
If you have high triglycerides, it may be best to avoid omega-3 supplements, as they have been associated with an increased likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation.
Tart cherry juice 26
Tart cherry juice(made from the fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree) is a rich source of antioxidants, nutrients, and beneficial plant compounds. It has also been found to help minimize inflammation, post-exercise muscle pain, and muscle soreness [
Studies suggest that daily consumption of tart cherry juice may result in better mobility, relief of pain-related symptoms and quality of life, and selective markers of cartilage health [ 27
While the timing and dosage can widely vary, most studies have found that consuming 8-12 oz of tart cherry juice extract twice a day can promote recovery [ 28
Because tart cherry juice contains quercetin, it may negatively interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners. Consult a healthcare professional before adding this supplement to your diet [ 29 30
Glucosamine is an amino sugar compound that is found in cartilage, the tough tissue that cushions your joints [ 31
While it’s most often used to treat pain caused by inflammation and osteoarthritis, studies indicate that glucosamine may also help prevent cartilage breakdown which can be common among endurance athletes [ 32 33 34 35
33]. Furthermore, research shows that glucosamine may help improve knee mobility after injuries, reduce pain, and improve joint function [
If you choose to supplement with glucosamine, research suggests 300 – 500 mg three times a day for a total daily dose of 900 – 1,500 mg. While preliminary evidence shows you could slow joint degradation by taking doses as high as 3,000 mg of glucosamine, this may be the most relevant for athletes competing in high-impact sports, like running [ 36
While glucosamine is generally safe to take, you may want to avoid this supplement if you have shellfish allergies, have glaucoma, or take warfarin (Coumadin) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) [ 37 38
Joint health is important because joints play a crucial role in your body's mobility and overall functionality. Over time, your joints are subject to wear and tear, which can cause discomfort, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. While athletes, older adults, women, and those with arthritis are more prone to joint pain, this condition can affect anyone at any stage.
You can improve joint health with certain lifestyle and dietary changes. Still, some supplements like protein, collagen, vitamin C, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, tart cherry juice, and glucosamine may also improve inflammatory markers and reduce exercise-related joint pain.
If you’re confused about which ones are right for you, Elo Health
Elo Healthcan help. We determine the right joint health supplements for you based on your biomarkers and wearable data so you can reach your goals.
Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care.
Protein, collagen, vitamin C, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, tart cherry juice and glucosamine are supplements that may improve inflammatory markers, reduce exercise-related joint pain, and alleviate symptoms of conditions such as osteoarthritis.
In addition to taking supplements, you can reduce inflammation
reduce inflammationand protect your joints through certain lifestyle and dietary changes (such as doing weight-bearing exercises and eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in protein).
Elo Healthoffers personalized supplements to address your specific health and wellness concerns.
Supplements are not created equal, and may not be recommended for everyone. To see if a supplement is right for you, talk with your healthcare provider before adding anything new to your routine.
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