Getting up in the morning can be a pain — literally. If you find that your joints are stiff and achy, you aren’t alone. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 million Americans with arthritis experience severe joint pain and about twice that many say it’s persistent.
Taking care of your bones and joints can be done with a healthy lifestyle — like eating a well-balanced diet and regularly engaging in low-impact exercise — and also with supplements that aid in joint health. Ahead, we’ll get into a handful of vitamins and joint health supplements that can help take care of your bones and joints so the mornings are a little less rough.
Best joint supplements
Many of the best joint supplements are substances already found in your body! Learn more about the best vitamins for your joints.
Collagen is a protein your body makes — and as you age, you have less and less of it. It’s what keeps your skin tight and firm and what keeps your joints working smoothly. But as you get older, there’s less collagen in your joints, which is where joint supplements could help. Though there isn’t a lot of research on whether collagen can actually help your joints, doctors largely think that it won’t hurt either — if it makes you feel better while paired with low-impact exercises like swimming, then go for it. This supplement is generally safe to take, as the side effects are mild such as stomach discomfort or diarrhea. However, it’s not monitored by the Food and Drug Administation, so take care when choosing what to take.
Omega-3s are fatty acids that can alleviate inflammation and joint pain. Research has shown that these supplements can reduce stiffness in people with arthritis and also combat joint pain. Studies have been conducted on how omega-3s work with arthritis, and it’s been proven that this fatty acid can “prevent experimental arthritis and may decrease disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis.” Omega-3s are largely safe to take but can cause side effects like heartburn, nausea or diarrhea. If you currently take a blood thinner, speak to your doctor before taking an omega-3, as there is a slight risk of bleeding when you combine the two.
You already have glucosamine naturally occurring in your body. It’s in your cartilage and helps your joints function. A glucosamine supplement is believed to help with arthritis in that it can bring down some of the pain brought on by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Because it’s a substance naturally found in the body, a supplement is generally considered safe. It has the potential to cause side effects like nausea and heartburn, and because it’s often made from shellfish, it should be avoided if you have an allergy. There is also a risk of interaction with blood thinners that could cause bleeding issues.
Vitamin D is known to support bone health, which is why some believe a vitamin D supplement could be useful in aiding in joint health. There is some research that suggests taking a vitamin D supplement can help with arthritis pain and inflammation, but the result doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a definitive answer. However, this supplement could help.
Vitamin D is a great resource for the body, helping you retain calcium, which also helps out your teeth! Take care when adding a vitamin D supplement to your routine, though, as high levels of this vitamin can interact with several drugs. Most notably, high levels of vitamin D can be highly problematic if you’re on Lanoxin, as it can put you at risk for hypercalcemia. Other medications mixed with a vitamin D supplement can also affect how your body processes the supplement.
You’ll often see chondroitin mentioned alongside glucosamine, as they’re similar. Chondroitin is also found in the cartilage in your body, which is why it’s believed to be beneficial in boosting joint health. Research into chondroitin has had largely inconclusive results, but it’s still accepted as a supplement that could be beneficial in aiding joint health. It’s generally viewed as a safe supplement, though, like many others, it can interact with blood thinners like Warfarin and put you at risk for bleeding.
People often turn to vitamin E to support their immune systems, as this vitamin is an antioxidant. However, there is some research on how vitamin E can slow the progression of osteoarthritis and promote the growth of new cartilage cells. However, much of this research requires further study. That being said, vitamin E is a good supplement to keep in your rotation, as it also promotes good vision and brain health. Just note that it can interact with blood thinners and put you at risk for bleeding.
Risks of supplements for joint health
As mentioned, most supplements are generally considered safe for people to take, as they’re vitamins that your body requires. However, you should always research supplements before you start taking them, especially if you’re on medication. Even though these are vitamins, many of them can interact with prescription medications, and you want to know that beforehand.
Checking with your doctor is always a good idea, as they can help you navigate which supplements might work best for you. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you’ll also want to go over any supplements with your doctor before you start taking them.