And while eating well for joint health is important, there are some basic nutrients that all athletes should be taking to ensure they’re doing the most they can to protect their joints.
But before we get into specific nutrients, there is one that needs to be discussed first and foremost and that’s water.
Joints are filled with a special fluid - synovial fluid - that acts as a shock absorber and lubricant. Dehydration won’t help your body produce adequate amounts of this fluid. True, it’s a relatively stable reservoir, but maintaining adequate hydration will ensure that your body can ‘spare’ enough fluid to keep the joints well hydrated.
One of the major joint problems we face with age is the drying out of cartilage. Dry cartilage is more prone to wear and tear…quite literally. Cartilage is a bit like a sponge; it depends on the synovial fluid for all of it’s nutrients because it (cartilage) doesn’t have it’s own blood supply. So for your cartilage’s sake, keep hydrated!
Glucosamine is necessary. Many studies have been done on glucosamine - many of them with poor design to intentionally discredit this nutrient. But when we look at well-done studies (using adequate amounts of the nutrient, tested in healthy subjects, and given adequate time, etc) glucosamine is just as effective and much better tolerated than ibuprofen.(1, 2)
Perhaps more importantly, glucosamine stimulates production of cartilage-buidling proteins and limits cartilage/joint degradation over time(3)(4) in comparison to NSAIDs may inhibit this same process in cartilage.(5)
My advice is that if you have joints, glucosamine should be a regular part of your supplementation regimen.
It is, after all the only substance we have that actually limits joint degradation. I’ll say this again because it’s important - NSAIDs don’t improve the actual health of the joint - they only change the way your brain perceives pain - and they slow down cartilage regeneration. So if you have creaky, painful joints, watch out for too many NSAIDs.
So if you can’t take NSAIDs, what should you take?
Joint Formula contains several natural ingredients that work together to protect the joints, decrease inflammation, and promote cartilage regeneration. It contains glucosamine sulfate along with the micronutrients manganese, zinc and copper to promote cartilage regeneration along with 5 herbs (curcumin, devil’s claw, bromeliad, boswellia and ginger to limit inflammation. Taken every day, Joint Formula can lead to pain relief within 10-14 days.
As we discussed last week, the omega-3 fats found in fish oil (fish is the richest source, but they can be found in other foods as well) can restore the balance between the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals your body makes. Omega-3’s should be a part of every healthy diet, but supplementation with a good fish oil can drastically increase the amount (and the effectiveness this fat has in reducing pain) you take in.
Watch out for poor labeling on fish oil products! Many times the label will say something like “1000 mg fish oil” but if you turn the bottle around and read in detail, you’ll see that out of the 1000 mg fish oil you’re only getting probably 300mg. And the real problem with this is that you need at least 2,500 mg a day, in omega-3 only, to get the maximum benefits from it. Lastly, look for an omega-3 that is a combination of EPA and DHA fats - you need both of them!
Anti-Inflammatory Formula is our answer to NSAIDs. Anti-Inflammatory Formula contains the most clinically tested and recognized natural ingredients that minimize inflammation in the body, all without the dangerous side effects of traditional over the counter or prescription NSAIDs. A combination of anti-inflammatory herbs (curcumin, boswellia, devil’s claw) and enzymes, you can take it prior to and immediately after a workout.
There you have it - our best suggestions for natural joint health.
Because I’m a runner, and want to keep running, here's my daily joint-support regimen: