Ease Aching Joints
It may start as morning stiffness, but it eventually becomes a dull ache that grows more severe over time. That’s how Jason Theodosakis, M.D., describes arthritis— the catchall term for conditions involving joint damage and the complaint of nearly 46 million Americans who suffer from it. Prevent joint decline Osteoarthritis, the most common kind of joint disease, is the degeneration of a joint due to aging, acute or chronic trauma, certain metabolic conditions, or about 20 other conditions. By the time you begin to feel symptoms, you may have had the problem for years, says Theodosakis, assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon, and author of The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s, 2003). The following supplements can help stave off joint erosion or slow its progression, and help prevent joint strains and injuries. (Dosage amounts are those recommended by Theodosakis based on the latest clinical research.)
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
The joints need to stay lubricated, and HA, a component in joint fluid, can help. As a prescription treatment for arthritis, it’s sometimes injected directly into the joint cavity. Taken in supplement form, it can strengthen the environment around your cartilage and and prompt certain cells to produce more HA fluid on their own.
Buying guide: Look for products containing the formulation known as Hyal-Joint (see hyal-joint.com), such as Country Life Hyal-Joint Hyaluronic Acid Complex.
Dosage: 40 to 80 mg daily.
Need to know: HA is usually derived from chicken cartilage, so if you’re a vegetarian or allergic to poultry, you won’t be able to take it.
It pays to prop up your vitamin D intake with a supplement, since low levels in adults have been associated with osteoarthritis, heart disease, and other immune diseases, says Theodosakis. According to long-term studies, the majority of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D.
Buying guide: Try Vitamin D3 (the most potent form) by Nature Made or Life Extension, brands that test for potency.
Dosage: The current recommended intake is 400 to 600 IU per day, with a safe upper limit of 2,000 IU per day, but these guidelines are currently under review. Some doctors say adults may benefit from a dosage of 1,000 to 5,000 IU daily.
Need to know: Overdosing on vitamin D is rare, but can cause serious health problems, such as kidney stones.