Supplement Perspectives
FDA Inflammation Claims

Joint Health and Your Mortality

Regular contributor Mark Becker takes a thorough, and personal, look at supplements for joint health.

No one can appreciate healthy joints more than I. Not only have I dedicated my life to endurance racing over the past 33 years—I’ve done more than 300 events—I love to surf, lift weights, and, most importantly, play with my 10-year-old son Nick and my eight-year-old son Noah.

I think it is safe to say I take the health of my joints very seriously and go to great lengths to keep them healthy—and with good reason.

Chronic diseases, such as arthritis, are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. However, there are more than 100 different arthritis diseases and conditions, many of which are widely recognizable, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout. People often experience pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect multiple organs.

The numbers don’t lie. According to cdc.gov, an estimated 52.5 million U.S. adults (about 1 in 5) report having doctor-diagnosed arthritis. As the U.S. population ages, the number of adults with arthritis or joint pain is expected to increase dramatically to 67 million by 2030.

What does this mean? Arthritis is the nation’s most common cause of disability. It limits the activities of 22.7 million Americans, preventing them from being able to climb stairs or walk. For 33 percent of working adults age 18 to 65 with arthritis, this joint pain can limit the type or amount of work they do or whether they can work at all.

Arthritis is more common among adults 65 or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected. Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Chronic joint pain is more common among women (26 percent) than men (19 percent) in every age group. This chronic condition affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis is also more common among adults who are obese than among those who maintain a normal weight.

Furthermore, research indicates that people with joint pain are less likely to be physically active. Many people believe that being active will cause pain, make their symptoms worse, or damage the joints. That said, leading a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for other chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Thankfully, I realized years ago, that due to my obsessive desire to remain active well into my senior years, I needed to be proactive and implement a joint health supplement regimen that would give me the longevity I desired. Over the past 33 years, I have been able to maintain the health of my joints largely because of my intake of the following joint nutrients:

Calcium and Vitamin D: This combination is essential to building strong, dense bones when you're young and keeping them strong and healthy as you age. Each day, you lose calcium through the skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine, and feces. However, the body cannot produce new calcium. Vitamin D plays an important role in protecting bones and your body requires it to absorb calcium. Children need vitamin D to build strong bones and adults need it to keep their bones strong and healthy. If you don't supplement with a good calcium formula that includes Vitamin D, you may lose bone, have lower bone density, and you're more likely to break bones as you age.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Formulas: I know it’s not sexy, but glucosamine- and chondroitin-based supplement formulas can be very efficacious. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are nature’s 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.

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.

Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage, Vitamin C can also maintain healthy connective tissue, including tendons, ligaments, bones, joints, and skin. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. It is regarded as the substance that holds the body together and is also found in tendons, bones, joints, and skin.

To date, I continue to lead a very active lifestyle largely because of the unbelievable joint compounds our industry supplies to health food store retailers and, ultimately, the consumer. Personally, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking dietary supplements to support the health of your joints. From a business standpoint, the number of people that suffer from joint maladies support the need for continued innovation from suppliers and marketers.  From a health standpoint, millions stand to suffer life altering chronic illness unless something is done. Ultimately, the objective is to maintain a quality of life well into your golden years. Joint supplements are a big piece of the puzzle.

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