Dietary Supplements Can Help Joint Health, Research Shows

About 20% of Americans are expected to have knee osteoarthritis by 2030, but new research shows that dietary changes and supplements may help with joint health.

Supplements such as tocotrienols and green tea extract have been shown to improve osteoporosis. Researchers are now learning how supplements can help with osteoarthritis.

People with osteoarthritis often experience joint swelling, knee stiffness, pain, decreased physical function, limited range of motion, compromised work capacity or restriction of social activities.

Modern medicine has yet to find a cure for osteoarthritis, according to Business Times, as it is difficult to restore cartilage once it’s lost. Treatments focus on managing the stiffness, pain and inflammation while improving mobility and strength.

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often used by patients with joint pain and arthritis to manage chronic pain and inflammation. But NSAIDs also come with a string of side effects and may not be safe for some patients to use.

One study has found that 20 common dietary supplements may have an effect on osteoarthritis and are considered generally safe.

Glucosamine sulfate, when taken at a dose of 1500 mg per day, has been shown to improve physical function in people with knee osteoarthritis while reducing pain. Glucosamine sulfate is naturally found in and around the tissues and fluid that cushion the joints.

Chondroitin sulfate, when taken at a dose of 1200 mg per day, has been shown to decrease pain, slow the narrowing of joint space and reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are often paired together in supplement form to maximize effectiveness.

Ginger root extract has been shown to be modestly effective at managing knee osteoarthritis. Some medical experts also recommend turmeric supplements for reduced inflammation and pain. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to reduce joint swelling and pain.

Multivitamins can help provide all of the nutrients that may be lacking in the diet. Other beneficial vitamins and nutrients include calcium, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C and folic acid.

Cat’s claw is also anti-inflammatory by nature and may even be able to relieve rheumatoid arthritis.

Diet and lifestyle changes, doctors say, can have a significant impact on joint health, particularly exercise.

While chondroitin sulfate (CS) has been shown to be effective at improving joint health, experts warn that there are certain groups of people who need to be careful with this supplement.

Chondroitin sulfate may accelerate cell growth in certain types of melanoma in certain groups of people. Melanoma cells carrying the V600E mutation of the BRAF gene are the greatest risk.

CS appeared to have no effect on other types of melanoma cells. The V600E mutation occurs in about half of melanomas.

Researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University of Medicine reported that mice implanted with the mutation and were given CS displayed accelerated tumor progression.

The mice also showed signs of resistance to vemurafenib, a chemotherapy drug used to treat patients with the V600E mutation.

While confirmation is needed in human epidemiological studies, the findings serve as a warning regarding the use of these supplements in people with BRAF V600E melanoma.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.