Oh, my aching [fill-in-the-blank]! It hardly matters what body part you name—joint pain can be debilitating, impacting the ease of everyday life and the physical activities you want to participate in.
Millions of Americans (nearly 22.7 percent) experience joint pain. So it’s no wonder people are looking for safe, natural ways to promote joint health. Luckily, there are a variety of joint supplementation options available.
Related: Shop supps for joint health.
1. Glucosamine and chondroitin
The most common joint supplements contain glucosamine or a blend of glucosamine and chondroitin. “Glucosamine is believed to stimulate cartilage production in the joints and chondroitin is a component of cartilage and attracts water to the tissue, which helps it stay elastic, and also blocks the action of enzymes that break down cartilage tissue,” explains Joseph Feste, M.D., FACOG, AACS, AACG, medical director at Natural Bio Health, a Texas-based integrative medicine practice.
Something called MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), a natural sulfur compound found in all living things, is sometimes added to the formula. The body needs sulfur for healthy connective tissue and joint function, says Feste.
According to the International Journal of Rheumatology, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are essential components of the cartilage metabolism, stimulating important cartilage regeneration processes.
2. Vitamin D
“Many people are chronically low in vitamin D,” says Feste. “Research shows that correcting low vitamin D levels can provide support for patients with knee, hip and other joint pain.” If you think this could be you, get tested by your doctor.
According to Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, patients who needed joint replacements were often vitamin D deficient.
Since the two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements (because it’s difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from food sources), supplementation may be your best bet—especially if you don’t spend much time outdoors or live in a sunny state. You can find them in gummies or chews if you don’t like swallowing capsules.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can help support your immune system and promote healthy joints, says Feste. In fact, patients taking dietary fish oil supps in a double-blind study done by Arthritis and Rheumatism exhibited improvements in their tender joints.
More reason to love fish oil? The omegas in fish oil promote a healthy heart, brain, skin, and gut. To get even more joint benefits, consider eating a mostly Mediterranean diet, which is chock-full of omegas. That means lean meats, fish, avocados, olive oil, fruits, and veggies.
Turmeric isn’t just responsible for your Golden Milk’s glow—it’s got a bunch of health-supporting qualities. According to Feste, that most certainly includes joint health, mostly due to turmeric’s ingredient curcumin, which has been shown to promote healthy immune system function, according to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects.
Make your own Golden Milk:
Ingredients: non-dairy milk (like coconut milk), a cinnamon stick, a piece of turmeric, a piece of ginger, a tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of coconut oil, a teaspoon of peppercorn, and a bit of cinnamon.
Pour it all into a saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer until everything is smooth. This should take about 10 minutes. You can store this for about five days and reheat later, too.