What to Look for in a Joint Supplement

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2018)

Most people who need a joint supplement do so because they’re looking for relief from the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. It’s a huge industry, thanks to the 27 million Americans who suffer from the condition.

The variety and number of supplements available can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to know which active ingredients to look for and how to spot a good quality product.

In this article, I’ll review the most commonly used active ingredients in joint supplements, and recommend some good quality formulations.

The Top Four Active Ingredients

Glucosamine

This is probably the ingredient that comes to mind when you think of joint supplements. Glucosamine is a natural compound made of protein and sugar molecules. It is one of the building blocks for cartilage formation and also helps produce synovial fluid, the fluid surrounding each joint that helps with lubrication. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory.

In laboratory tests, it has shown to promote cartilage regeneration. The Mayo Clinic reports that there is good scientific evidence to back the effectiveness of glucosamine in alleviating osteoarthritis symptoms.

Glucosamine comes in a few different forms with glucosamine sulfate having been found to be the most effective. Most supplemental glucosamine is derived from shellfish.

The recommended dose for the treatment of osteoarthritis is 1000-2000 mg per day for up to 18 months. However, you won’t see any benefit right away so stick with it if it doesn’t seem to be helping initially. Many people don’t see a full benefit for a month after starting a glucosamine supplement.

Chondroitin

Many joint supplements that contain glucosamine also contain chondroitin. It is made by the body and is a major component of cartilage. Most chondroitin supplements are either sourced from animal cartilage or made in a laboratory and, like glucosamine, come in sulfate form.

Research indicates that chondroitin is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. It can be used alongside traditional medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) in order to reduce the required dose. Unfortunately, most of the research on chondroitin is comprised of short-term studies and its long-term effectiveness remains in question.

The recommended dose for chondroitin is 800-1200 mg per day. As with glucosamine, the full effectiveness of chondroitin may not be seen for several weeks after the initial dose.

Chondroitin is contraindicated for some people. There’s no research studying its safety while pregnant or breastfeeding so in these cases, it is best to avoid taking it. Also of note is that some studies show that chondroitin can worsen asthma symptoms, blood clotting disorders, and possibly lead to the spread or recurrence of prostate cancer.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is a compound used in the treatment of osteoarthritis because it aids in collagen production. It is also a known anti-inflammatory because of its sulfur content which aids in normal cellular activity.

MSM has been found to be reasonably effective in treating osteoarthritis symptoms. This short-term study found that 3 g taken twice daily significantly lessened pain and improved joint mobility. This dose is at the high end of what is generally taken which is anywhere from 500 mg three times daily to 3 g twice daily. However, the jury is still out on what an optimal dose would be.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally present in the body, mostly in the eyes and joints where it acts as a cushion and lubricant. As we age, the levels of hyaluronic acid in the body can drop by up to 50 percent.

Interestingly, the hyaluronic acid that is produced for use in supplements is often extracted from rooster combs or made by bacteria in a laboratory.

This supplement has been found to effectively alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. This study found that participants taking 200 mg of hyaluronic acid daily for 12 months saw a significant improvement in their symptoms. However, the change was seen most dramatically in those 70 years old and younger.

Some Supplement Recommendations

The most commonly used joint supplements contain a combination of the above four ingredients. Here are some recommendations:

Move Free Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM and Hyaluronic Acid Joint Supplement, 120 Count

This supplement contains all four ingredients listed above. The manufacturer claims that it “supports five signs of joint health: mobility, comfort, strength, flexibility and lubrication.”

And they might just be correct about that. It comes with a very high user satisfaction rate and is a number one best seller on this site where a bottle will run you just over $14. At three pills per day, it’ll last you just shy of six weeks. Check here for the latest discounts and prices.

Quick Facts:

  • Glucosamine Hydrochloride: 1500 mg per serving
  • Chondroitin Sulfate: 200 mg per serving
  • MSM: 1500 mg per serving
  • Hyaluronic Acid: 3.3 mg per serving
  • Each dose also contains 215 mg calcium fructoborate, an anti-inflammatory
  • Dose: three tablets daily
  • Contains shellfish

Zenwise Labs Joint Support Pro-Mobility Formula, 180 Count

This joint support formula also contains glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. It is very highly rated by customers and is a best seller on this site. At roughly $27, the 180 tablets in this bottle will last you two full months. Of course, you can always check here for the best prices and latest discounts.

Zenwise Labs claims that their product “is a powerful joint supplement that is specifically formulated for the reduction of aches, pains, soreness and inflammation associated with joint related issues.”

Quick Facts:

  • Glucosamine Sulfate: 1500 mg per serving
  • Chondroitin Sulfate: 1200 mg per serving
  • MSM: 1000 mg per serving
  • Hyaluronic Acid: 25 mg per serving
  • Each serving also contains 100 mg of Boswellia and Curcumin, effective anti-inflammatory agents
  • Manufactured in the United States in an FDA-registered facility
  • Dose: three tablets daily
  • Contains no wheat, egg, milk, or peanut
  • Contains shellfish

Doctor’s Best Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM, 240 Count

This supplement is a great option if you only have mild to moderate osteoarthritis symptoms. The active ingredient dose is a little lower, and it does not contain hyaluronic acid. This makes the product more affordable at around $18 per bottle on this site. Despite the lower dose, this product is still very highly rated by people who have used it. Check out the latest discounts and prices here!

The manufacturer describes it as a “potent combination of three proven, purified ingredients that help build the cushy cartilage that serves as a shock absorber for your joints.”

Quick Facts:

  • Glucosamine Sulfate: 750 mg per two capsule dose
  • Chondroitin Sulfate: 600 mg per two capsule dose
  • MSM: 500 mg per two capsule dose
  • Dose: two capsules twice daily
  • Non-GMO and gluten free
  • Contains shellfish

Joint Juice Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplement Drink – 8-Ounce, 30 Count

Many joint supplements come in the form of large capsules that can be difficult to swallow. Joint Juice solves this problem by dissolving the active ingredients in a delicious cranberry pomegranate beverage.

As with the above supplements, it is rated highly by customers. Some customer reviews include “LOVE the product” and “I am walking both faster and easier.”

The recommended dose is one 8 oz bottle per day with a 30-day supply costing a little over $35. It is a little pricier than capsule form, but check out the latest prices and discounts here!

Quick Facts:

  • Glucosamine Hydrochloride (derived from a vegetable source): 1500 mg per dose
  • Chondroitin Sulfate: 200 mg per dose
  • Dose: one 8 oz bottle per day
  • Proud sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation
  • Contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium

Other Options

There are a variety of other options that can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis.

Losing weight can make a huge difference in alleviating stress on your joints. The Arthritis Foundation states that “every pound of excess weight exerts about four pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is ten pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.”

Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are effective in reducing the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Another great option is turmeric supplements. Check out our own list of the top four.

Final Thoughts

The most effective way of dealing with osteoarthritis symptoms is to use a multi-faceted approach. Weight loss, a diet rich in omega-3s, and a joint supplement that works for you can all be combined to combat pain and stiffness. As with any supplement, talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new one.

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