Our joints play a major role in our daily movement

Top 10 Supplements for Joint Health

We use our joints every time we move—and for those of us with go, go, go lifestyles, that means all the time. They enable us to get around in our daily lives—that means getting out of bed, cooking, exercising, working, cleaning, even just getting from point A to point B, however short or long it may be! This makes it crucial, especially as we age, to make sure that our joint health isn't...disjointed.

Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle is one way to protect your joints (diet, exercise, preventative doctor visits), but there are also specific supplements to support your joints. From glucosamine to fish oil, and other nutrients in between, there's a joint supplement for all your needs.

What do joints do?

When you were a kid, you probably learned "The Bones" song: The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to knee bone... While it might have been missing a few bones along the way, one thing it gets right is the story of how our bones are connected—through the joints, that is!

Your joints are the areas where two or more of your bones meet. They exist to enable movement between your bones so you can get down to business—whatever that may be! Joints are held together by connective tissues called ligaments and contain protective cartilage that covers the surface area of a joint.

What are joint health supplements?

Joint health supplements contain nutrients that help protect your moveable joints and their components (there are, after all, some joints that are not moveable, like the bones in your skull). Joint supplements are designed to help you support all of the connective tissues that make up your joints so you can stand tall and move around confidently and comfortably.

These research-based joint supplements will have you jumping for joy (comfortably!) and supporting your best health.

1. Glucosamine and chondroitin

When it comes to your joint supplements, glucosamine should be at the top of the list! Glucosamine is a compound naturally found in cartilage that keeps it healthy. In fact, in an analysis of several randomized control trials, glucosamine supplementation was associated with maintaining healthy joint structure and comfortable knee function.

Chondroitin is also found in cartilage and is another important part of connective tissue. This compound often tag teams with glucosamine for comprehensive joint support. Chondroitin on its own has been found in studies to play a role in overall joint comfort.

Even though you can find glucosamine and chondroitin in certain foods, a standard diet can't provide the amount you need for optimal joint health. This makes supplementing important. The preferred supplement form of each of these nutrients is glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate, which are usually found in a glucosamine-chondroitin combination supplement. If you're only looking for one of the two, standalone glucosamine or chondroitin formulas are also available.

2. Keratin and hyaluronic acid

Who knew that what we usually think of as "beauty nutrients" could offer such beautiful benefits to your joints? When you hear keratin, you probably think of luscious hair, glowing skin and strong nails. But that's not all this naturally occurring protein in the body is known for. The peptide form of keratin also plays a part in promoting healthy joint tissue. It provides shock absorption while simultaneously fighting oxidative stress. This protein goes hand in hand with hyaluronic acid to support overall comfort.

Hyaluronic acid, another important component of both skin and joint support, provides lubrication to the joints (think of adding oil to a wheel). Supplementing with this nutrient helps the skin retain moisture and provides joint-supporting lubrication for optimal comfort. Combining it with other structural nutrients, like collagen, can support healthy joint tissue growth.

3. Collagen

Speaking of collagen, this is the main structural protein in the body and is considered the building block of your skin, muscles, bones, tendons and more. It's also the main component of connective tissue. There are three types of collagen, but when we focus on collagen as a joint supplement, we really mean type II, which makes up about 80% of the body's cartilage.

Taking a type II collagen supplement supports your joint health in several ways because it's identical to what's found in your joints. Type II collagen promotes mobility and flexibility, helps relieve minor discomfort, encourages healthy cartilage growth and even promotes a healthy
inflammatory response. Look for undenatured type II collagen—according to a randomized controlled trial, this type improves joint comfort, mobility and function.

4. White mulberry, cutch tree and Chinese skullcap

If you're looking for a plant-based joint supplement for healthy aging joints, look no further than the combination of white mulberry, cutch tree and Chinese skullcap.

In one clinical study of white mulberry and cutch tree, the combination was found to support healthy joint cartilage and comfort. The combination of Chinese skullcap and cutch tree inhibits the activity of enzymes COX-1, COX-2 and 5-LOX, which can negatively impact your health. By fighting the activity of these enzymes, this combination helps inhibit inflammation to support joint health, resulting in a comprehensive joint support supplement for overall health and comfortable freedom of movement.

5. Boswellia serrata

Boswellia serrata extract is well known for promoting a healthy inflammatory response. But it's particularly helpful for joint health. It does this by helping inhibit the activity of an enzyme called 5-LOX that can affect your joints.

Standardized forms of Boswellia can absorb into the bloodstream up to 52% more compared to non-standardized forms, making it easier for the body to get its benefits. You can find Boswellia as a supplement on its own, but it also complements well with nutrients like turmeric and black sesame extract, along with type II collagen, glucosamine and boron.

6. Curcumin and chiretta combination

Just by moving around and living your life, normal wear and tear can happen. This makes it more crucial than ever to prioritize maintaining a healthy inflammatory response—something that your joints depend on to move freely and comfortably.

Curcumin does just that. It delivers high amounts of free curcuminoids, the active compound in turmeric that gives it its health benefits. These free curcuminoids help inhibit inflammatory factors to support joint health, with their benefits studied in several clinical trials.

Combining curcumin with chiretta extract (also known as Andrographis) is a great way to ensure you get all of curcumin's benefits for joint comfort. Combining 150 mg a day of green chiretta with 250 mg of curcumin provides a comprehensive joint supplement.

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7. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

If you're an athlete, get ready to pick up your pickleball racket—this joint support supplement is for you! Methylsulfonylmethane helps relieve the minor discomfort that can come after exercise and supports overall mobility.

Because exercise generates oxidative stress, it can leave your body, including your joints, susceptible to occasional discomfort. MSM helps maintain comfortable muscles and joints after exercise. While it's powerful on its own, this supplement when added to a regimen that includes glucosamine and chondroitin can further augment its benefits.

8. Omega-3 fish oil

Omega-3s have a famously lengthy list of health benefits—from heart and brain health to promoting a healthy inflammatory response. Since fish oil is so effective at inhibiting inflammation to support whole-body health, it should come to no surprise that it provides joint support as well. Fortunately, you don't have to swim far to dive into the benefits of omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids. While you can get EPA and DHA from the food you eat, supplementing with easy-to-swallow softgels can ensure you are getting enough of what you need and all your bases are covered.

The joint health benefits of omega-3s have been shown in several studies. In fact, in two meta-analyses evaluating randomized control trials, research found that omega-3s not only fight joint-related discomfort, but they also improve overall joint function.

Pro tip: The fatty acids found in krill have also been found to be particularly effective in targeting joint tissue. Combining it with astaxanthin and hyaluronic acid makes it a particularly good joint supplement for encouraging a comfortable range of motion. If you really want to double down on benefits, there are formulas that combine omega-3 fish oil with krill oil.

9. Turmeric and tamarind combination

Occasional knee discomfort can slow you down. But certain joint supplements can help you pick up the pace. If you're looking for a supplement that focuses on your knees, look no further than turmeric—particularly a formula that also includes tamarind.

Turmeric, a golden spice prized for its whole-body health benefits, is well known for promoting a healthy inflammatory response. Keeping this vital process in check can help you maintain comfortable movement. Tamarind, a tropical tree native to regions in Africa also has gained traction for its health benefits. Together, their benefits are virtually unstoppable!

In a 90-day randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants who were taking a turmeric-tamarind formula had significant improvements in their joint comfort, specifically in their knees. But that's not all. Knee flexion along with walking speed and distance also improved in participants who took this dual-action combo.

10. SAMe

Although SAMe (short for S-adenosyl-methionine), a compound made naturally by our bodies that helps produce neurotransmitters and maintain liver health, is often associated with mood health, it's also been studied for its benefits on the joints.

SAMe is found in almost every tissue in the body and is involved in important processes, including its participation in metabolic functions. SAMe donates methyl groups, essential for proper neurotransmitter signaling and protein function, to other molecules that rely on it—including the molecules that support the cushion between your joints.

Who should take joint health supplements?

Everyone can benefit from joint health supplements. They're literally the foundation that is keeping you upright! And no matter if you have a step goal, want to dance all night, play a game of catch, or you simply want to keep up with your children or grandchildren, joint health supplements are a great way to be proactive about your overall health, mobility and well-being.

There are specific joint health supplements that offer targeted support that certain individuals may benefit from, such as those experiencing occasional discomfort and looking for relief, or athletes who want to keep their exercise performance up. Generally speaking, though, they can be used by anyone who wants to get a leg up (literally!) on safeguarding their mobility and range of motion for the long term, especially as they age.

What Vitamins Are Good for Joint Health?

When it comes to joint supplements, though each has specialized benefits, there isn't one single-letter vitamin that is better than another for what you need. Instead, focusing on a comprehensive multivitamin that can provide the optimal amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to support your overall health can ensure you cover your bases—from your head to your toes and all the joints in between!

What else can I do to support my joints?

It's no surprise that to keep you standing tall, you have to put in the work and prioritize a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • Exercise

    —We're not saying you have to sign up for a marathon—or even go for a two-mile run. But making sure you're prioritizing daily movement is good for your body in many ways, including your joints! Walking is a good place to start, and you can't deny the benefits of strength training for supporting muscle strength and resilience. If you want to be more gentle on your joints, consider low-impact exercises like a yoga class or a few laps in the pool. As a bonus, spending time outside moving can help you synthesize vitamin D—and who doesn't want to soak up some of the sunshine vitamin?
  • Healthy diet

    —Proper nutrition doesn't start and end with dietary supplements! A healthy diet will help support other aspects of your health and benefit your joints, too. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains can help support a healthy inflammatory response—a key component of joint health. These foods are even rich in letter vitamins (including vitamin C) and other nutrients that can help preserve your joint function.
  • Maintain a healthy weight

    —What do a healthy diet and exercise have in common? They are some of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy weight! And when it comes to joint health, the benefits of a healthy weight can't be understated. A healthy weight means less stress is put on the joints—key to protecting them and supporting optimal joint function.
  • Quality sleep

    —Sleep is key to keeping your joints healthy. It's the time when the body rejuvenates itself from the daily stress it goes through and resets in order to prepare you for the next day. Making sure your body gets the rest it needs will prepare you to keep moving for the long term!

If you're not sure which joint supplement you want to try, take our quiz to get more personalized recommendations. Your joints will thank you!

About the Author: Holly Denton got her degree in English Literature from Florida State University and previously worked in English education abroad with the Peace Corps and other development organizations before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Copywriter.