Joint health is important to pay attention to throughout your life. Your joints are the point of connection between the bones in your body that allow you to move and bend. Exercise can put temporary wear and tear on your joints, particularly in your hands, elbows, knees, and shoulders. With aging, people often notice common changes in their joint health too.
Whether you’re interested in supporting your joints because you take fitness seriously or you’ve started to notice some occasional challenges with your joints, vitamins and supplements may help provide some additional support that can support your overall joint health.
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 about your day easily. Keeping your joints in top top shape can help maintain a solid quality of life for both the fitness enthusiast and those wanting to maintain optimal healthy aging.
Although injuries like joint tears are possible, often related to intense activities or accidental injuries, most challenges with our joints actually occur slowly and as a normal part of aging. This can mean that joint health is often overlooked until you experience joint challenges or a reduced range of motion. For example, the cartilage in your joints might need support if you occasionally experience reduced flexibility or range of motion. 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 joint health in a positive way.
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, like weights and swimming, that don’t strain your joints.
And finally, supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements that have been shown to support joint health may help you in addition to diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or a veggie omega, turmeric, collagen, and vegetarian collagen from eggshell membrane may help support your joint health by supporting your body’s healthy response to exercise and providing key nutrients for joint health.
Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: We have all heard the old saying “you are what you eat” and it is still applicable to this day! Our cells, bones and joints included, are all made using resources from what we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for your health and can only be obtained through your diet from foods like fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed, or from supplementing. Omega 3 fatty acids in the diet provide resources for the body to form optimal bones and joints and maintain optimal health. One study explains the way omega 3 fatty acids help support bone and joint health is by increasing the absorption of calcium and vitamin D which are both crucial nutrients. Fish oil is a common omega-3 supplement and has shown initial promising results as an ingredient to support joint health. One study found that patients taking 2,000mg of omega-3 per day experienced better joint health and mobility within 3 months. 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.
Turmeric: also known as the Golden Spice- has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. Studies have shown it to have active constituents called curcuminoids which may support joint health based on their therapeutic properties. One randomized trial demonstrated the potential therapeutic effects within joint function over a 6 week period.
Collagen: a protein that the body naturally produces in order to make a lot of different connective tissues like bones, cartilage, and tendons which all contribute to joint health. A systematic review has shown strong evidence for 5-15g of collagen supplementation to have properties that improve joint functionality and relieve temporary joint pain associated with exercise. One of the first clinical trials was completed over a 6 month period with 147 athlete participants from 2005-2006 who were split into two groups. One group received 10g of collagen and the other received placebo. The group that received collagen supplementation reported improved joint health. To support overall connective tissue health while also maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails collagen may be a great addition to your daily regimen.
Vegetarian Collagen from Eggshell Membrane: Collagen is the main protein that makes up connective tissues in our bodies — including cartilage — that acts as a cushion between your bones. With frequent exercise and everyday activity there may be more of an incentive to maintain proper joint health. Supplementing with eggshell membrane may help quickly improve joint health by promoting healthy cartilage and joint flexibility. In recent studies, participants who were given eggshell membrane saw a significant improvement in joint comfort and mobility in as little as 7 to 10 days. In another randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study, a combination of eggshell membrane and omegas were found to help reduce a specific type of marker associated with joint pain immediately after exercise in healthy individuals. The study specifically used 500mg eggshell membrane (also found in Veg Collagen supplement) and 1500mg omega 3 fatty acids.