Supplement Perspectives

Good Joint Health = Good Quality of Life

Mark Becker, an endurance athlete for over 30 years, reveals his joint health supplements of choice.

I have been an endurance athlete for more than 30 years. Over that time, I have completed more than 300 endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 100 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland.

To do that, I have relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement and homeopathic regimen. This supports not only my athletic activities, but my professional and personal endeavors as well.

I am now in my mid 50s and I often think to myself, How much longer can I keep up this maniacal training routine. After all, I swim three times a week, cycle 100 miles a week, and run 35 miles a week. And I would be remiss not to mention the eight hours a week I spend in the weight room. I actually worry about the day when I will not be able to do these things anymore. Age gets us all. Its inevitable.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that millions of Americans suffer from stiff, painful joints, you can incorporate certain routines into your life to prolong that fountain of youth we all desperately want to guzzle from. At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned my supplement regimen. I cannot emphasize enough how much taking quality dietary supplements will prolong the ability to do things many people think only the young can do. That said, maintaining the health of your joints has to not only be a priority for people who like to do endurance events like myself, but all of us.

Until recently, many believed that joint pain was simply a "normal" part of the aging process. But new science suggests that joint pain can be relieved through, among other things, dietary supplements. The key is having an acute awareness of the importance of joint health and taking a proactive approach to finding supplements that will truly impact the health of your joints. That said, the joint health category is very saturated. Many who undertake the often daunting task of finding a suitable joint health supplement are frequently confused by the plethora of products on health food store shelves. Which ones work? Which ones dont?  

I realized years ago, that due to the pounding I put on my body, I needed to implement a joint health supplement regimen that would give me the longevity I desired. Over the past three decades I have been able to maintain the health of my joints largely because of my intake of the following joint nutrients, among others:

Fish Oil: The mainstream media has been reporting on the benefits of fish oil for years. Studies have shown that the Omega-3s found in fish oil not only helps fight joint inflammation, but also heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, ulcers, diabetes, and other conditions. Fish oil supplements act as lubricants for the joints and can help prevent tearing of the muscles and joint tissues. Omega-3s can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and a few other foods. However, the most beneficial form of Omega-3s, containing two fatty acidsEPA and DHAcan be found only in fish.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Formulas: I know its not sexy, but glucosamine- and chondroitin-based supplement formulas can be very efficacious. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natures basic building blocks for maintaining joint cartilage and can relieve pain, improve joint mobility, and slow osteoarthritis-related damage to the joints. These nutrients are supported by legitimate scientific studies. Health professionals recommend trusted brands that offer formulas that contain at least 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin. Also, to get the best results, studies indicate that a long-term commitment must be made to taking glucosamine and chondroitin formulas.

MSM ( Methyl-sulphonyl-methane ): To make new cartilage, the body needs a considerable amount of sulfur. Consuming alliums (onions, garlic, leeks) will increase the availability of sulfur in the body. Most, including myself, do not consume sufficient alliums. That said, taking a daily basic sulfur supplement, such as MSM, will have profound joint health benefits. And there is considerable clinical evidence supporting MSM supplementation.

SAMe (S-adenosyl L-methionine): This natural compound formed in the body from the amino acid methionine has created excitement due to its wide-ranging health effects above and beyond joint health. SAMe plays a critical role in cartilage formation. Clinical studies indicate that SAMe helps support joint comfort, function, and mobility in the joints. SAMe also helps to form proteoglycans, which are used to renew the matrix of cartilage. Another study showed that SAMe was more effective than NSAIDs when it came to minimizing pain associated with osteoarthritis. 

Silicon: The strength of our bones and joints are due to the protein medium built around them. This is the area where calcium is deposited in the body. Aging depletes calcium in the body but can be assimilated with the presence of the mineral silicon, providing strength and flexibility to the joints. Taking silicon supplements for joint health will help in the fight against osteoporosis and increase strength and flexibility in the entire skeletal system.

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