It is no surprise that our joints eventually wear out and sometimes cause us discomfort and pain as we age, after years of constant use.
As a population, we are living longer and longer, however our joints don’t seem to be able to keep up. The inflammatory joint disease arthritis is also very common and can lead to destruction of the cartilage that protects the delicate bone surface in the joints.
The first and most important step in protecting your joints for the long term is to keep a healthy, active lifestyle and ensuring that you are a healthy weight, as being even slightly overweight can cause huge mechanical stresses on your joints. A high BMI can lead to serious joint problems (such as knee and hip osteoporosis) later in life (1). It’s easy to neglect this idea in our youth, but if we do not look after our joints from NOW ON, we may well regret this as we suffer aches and pains as we age.
To give your joints the optimal support they need to stay healthy and support you into old age, a supplement may be beneficial in providing the nutrients targeted to support the cartilage and surrounding tissues, helping to keep inflammation down and to heal any damaged tissues. You should especially consider this if you are prone to aching joints, have been diagnosed with arthritis, have the disease in your family history or if you exercise at high intensity or for long periods of time.
The following ingredients have been formulated into our joint supplement Omegaflex Duo following extensive research into the key nutrients required for optimal joint function:
Glucosamine and cartilage
One of the most talked about supplements for joint health is be glucosamine – and with good reason. Glucosamine is naturally found in the body’s cartilage. Cartilage has a tough spongy texture, giving protection to the joints by absorbing energy from the impact of walking and running, thus protecting the bone surfaces. As we age, this layer of cartilage becomes thinner and less spongy and can eventually wear thin, exposing the bones and resulting in pain.
Glucosamine supplementation has been studied extensively, with a large number of trials carried out. Review studies show beneficial effects of glucosamine supplementation, particularly for improving mobility and reducing pain in individuals with osteoarthritis, as well as in preserving joint structure (2). There is ongoing debate in the media on the efficacy of glucosamine for joint health, however the evidence for the beneficial effects of glucosamine on joint health is clear in review articles comparing the outcomes of numerous studies undertaken. Joint pain reduction does, however, vary from person to person, so glucosamine may be more effective for some than for others. As one of the most important building blocks of cartilage, and with good evidence to support its use in prevention of further joint damage, as well as (in many cases) such significant effects on pain reduction, glucosamine is certainly worth including in your supplement regime.
Glucosamine in supplements may be sourced from the shells of shellfish, animal bones or fungi. The glucosamine in our supplement Omegaflex Duo is sourced from fungi, as it is in the preferable form glucosamine hydrochloride.
Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D – for bone density
It is well known that calcium is important for bone health, but we must not forget how calcium interacts with other vitamins and minerals and how this affects the joints. Calcium certainly doesn’t work alone in providing the structure for the bone, as magnesium and vitamin D are also required to work synergistically. Magnesium is essential to bone health and is more commonly deficient, whilst vitamin D helps to regulate calcium metabolism.
Interestingly, calcium supplementation alone has not shown to improve bone density (3), however in combination with magnesium and vitamin D, it has a beneficial effect on bone structure, therefore reducing risk of fracture (4,5). The form of calcium used in supplements also varies considerably. In Omegaflex Duo, we only use natural forms of calcium and magnesium, sourced from algae, and our vitamin D is in the readily absorbable form D3. Calcium may even be detrimental to health when supplemented at high doses in certain forms on its own, therefore it is important to use it in balance with magnesium and vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be made in the skin from exposure to sunlight between the months of March and September, so try to get out for about 15 minutes per day if possible over the summer. In the winter months, supplementation is required for most individuals to prevent deficiency.
Vitamin C and zinc – protect joint tissues
Vitamin C is one of the most abundant antioxidants required for neutralising free radicals, which cause damage to joints. Stress, pollution and processed foods are just a few of the factors increasing free radical damage in the body, so it is essential to keep up our antioxidant intake to protect cells. Vitamin C is also needed for the production of collagen, which is the major fibrous protein in connective tissue helping to support the joint structure.
Zinc is a vital trace mineral for joint integrity, as it is needed for tissue growth and repair. A dose of 10mg in Omegaflex Duo is sufficient to support the function of enzymes required to form the bone matrix; studies looking at the effect of bone density have shown that zinc increases bone mass (6). Many people’s diets are deficient in zinc, so supplementation may be useful for those people for optimal joint health.
Fatty acids and inflammation
Inflammation in the joints can also cause damage to the cartilage, so regulating inflammation and thereby keeping cartilage healthy is one of the most important considerations for joint health.
To keep inflammation at bay, concentrated omega-3 EPA is hugely beneficial. EPA is the fatty acid found at high levels in fish, and helps the body to produce anti-inflammatory hormone-like substances called eicosanoids. An imbalance of fatty acids in the body or insufficient omega-3 EPA can lead to increased inflammation in the joints, one of the main contributing factors to arthritis.
In Omegaflex Duo, the fatty acids include a 70% concentrated EPA fatty acid from wild sustainably sourced anchovies, in combination with anti-inflammatory omega-6 GLA (from organic non-raffinated evening primrose oil), rich in antioxidant triterpenes. The combination of these anti-inflammatory effects from the fatty acids and antioxidants, together with the support of the glucosamine and co-factor vitamins and minerals make for an ideal all-round joint support supplement.
1. Mork PJ, Holtermann A, Nilsen TI. Effect of body mass index and physical exercise on risk of knee and hip osteoarthritis: longitudinal data from the Norwegian HUNT Study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012, 66(8):678-83.
4. Matias CN, Santos DA, Monteiro CP, Vasco AM, Baptista F, Sardinha LB, Laires MJ, Silva AM. Magnesium intake mediates the association between bone mineral density and lean soft tissue in elite swimmers. Magnes Res. 2012, 25(3):120-5.
6. Fung EB, Kwiatkowski JL, Huang JN, Gildengorin G, King JC, Vichinsky EP. Zinc supplementation improves bone density in patients with thalassemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013, 98(4):960-71.