Many athletic pursuits are derailed by joint problems, and even regular exercise can tax a joint enough to impact subsequent workouts. Many dietary ingredients have been researched for helping the structure and/or function of joints.
Shoulders, knees and elbows are synovial joints, in which cartilage protects the ends of bones and synovial fluid fills the joint gap for less friction and better cushion. Chondroitin sulfate is the most prominent of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that connect with proteins to make beneficial compounds in joint structures. Chondroitin is a component of cartilage and helps resist compression forces. Other GAGs found in the joints include hyaluronic acid, (HA), which helps boost the viscosity and lubrication ability of synovial fluid.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar and precursor to GAGs, and is often combined with chondroitin to address joint pain and stiffness. GAGs can be sourced from shellfish, but eggshell membrane is another source being researched for reducing pain and stiffness, while improving joint flexibility.
Managing inflammation is a big goal for joint health, and a team of botanicals is ready to help by acting in key enzymatic pathways responsible for production of signaling compounds that control inflammation response. Boswellia acts on lipoxygenase (LOX) to inhibit degradation of collagen and extracellular matrix, while curcumin targets COX (cyclooxygenase) to reduce pro-inflammatory signaling and improve joint pain and function. Omega-3s, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), also act directly on enzymatic pathways controlling inflammation.
Plants can also be sources of minerals, such as calcium fructoborate, that help address inflammation in people with joint discomforts. Among minerals, a chromium complex may help ease joint discomfort and swelling, while a mineral complex derived from seaweed quells inflammation for associated with joint pain and stiffness.
For more details on the research behind these and other natural ingredients for joint health, check out the digital issue “Joint Health for Active Consumers.”