Joint pain caused by arthritis can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Your flexibility decreases and most arthritis sufferers find it difficult to perform some everyday tasks they used to do with ease. Besides doctor-recommended treatment options suitable for your type of arthritis making certain lifestyle modifications is always necessary to improve that quality of life and this also includes diet. Also, consumption of some vitamins, minerals and other supplements can be useful and in this article, you’re going to see the best options to try out.
1. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)
SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound present in almost every tissue and fluid in a human body. It is involved in different processes such as immune system, maintaining cell membranes, and it also helps produce and break down some brain chemicals. SAM-e also has the potential to relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA). How? It is because SAM-e acts as an analgesic or pain reliever and has anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Arthritis Foundation, SAM-e may stimulate cartilage growth and also affects brain neurotransmitters which reduce the perception of pain. One study showed that although SAM-e has a slower onset of action it is equally effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like celecoxib (Celebrex) in managing symptoms of knee OA.
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Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which can reduce joint pain and swelling by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. According to the review of studies published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, the available data supports claims that due to anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric relieves symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, scientists behind this review stress the importance of further research on this subject. Moreover, a study of Meriva (a proprietary curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex) showed that supplementation decreased joint pain and improved joint function among OA patients.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are, primarily, found in fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, but you can also get them from nuts. Also, intake of fish oil supplements is a great way to obtain Omega-3 fatty acids. Why should you care about this? Well, Omega-3s are essential for your overall health and wellbeing and they are a vital factor for maintaining healthy cells throughout the body, including your joints. Omega-3s also encourage the production of chemicals that control inflammation in the joints, tissues, and bloodstream. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, Omega-3 fatty acids were a subject of a wide array of studies that inspected its potential to manage arthritis.
A study published in the BMJ found that supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids lessens the severity of osteoarthritis. Scientists discovered that unhealthy dietary fats, not just obesity, contribute to aggravating OA symptoms. For their study researchers used mice and noticed that although Omega-3 fatty acids don’t reverse joint degradation, they slow down the progression of arthritis.
On the other hand, one research discovered that treatment with Omega-3 fatty acids was linked to improvement in various outcome measures in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, Omega-3s showed better and more superior outcomes than placebo and they decreased the long-term requirements for NSAIDs.
Glucosamine is found in the body’s joint cartilage and helps keep it lubricated and healthy. It is believed that glucosamine helps slow down the deterioration of cartilage, relieve arthritis joint pain, and improves joint mobility. It is not uncommon to hear or read that glucosamine is the best joint pain supplement. Chondroitin is also found naturally in bone and cartilage and it reduces joint pain and inflammation, improves joint function, and slows down the progression of OA. It is believed that Chondroitin enhances the shock-absorbing properties of collagen and blocks enzymes that break down cartilage. The scientific evidence gives mixed results about these supplements. While some studies found them ineffective, there are also those who reported significant improvement in arthritis symptoms. For example, a study from Nature found that a combination of Glucosamine & Chondroitin provided pain relief and function improvement, unlike placebo.
5. Calcium and Vitamin D
Since we’re talking about joints and bones, mentioning calcium is a must. As you already know, this mineral plays a pivotal role in joint and bone health. That’s why it isn’t shocking that people with arthritis also have lower levels of calcium in the body. According to scientists, getting enough calcium isn’t just about stronger bones. Each time your heart pumps or muscle contracts your body has to use calcium, which means you need sufficient amount of this mineral anyway. In fact, when your body is low on calcium it starts taking it from bones. The best way to prevent this is to ensure you get recommended daily amount of calcium through diet or supplements.
What about Vitamin D then? The sunshine vitamin promotes absorption of calcium, which is why it is important for bone and joint health. In fact, a study published in the Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism found that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are deficient in Vitamin D. Deficiency in the sunshine vitamin is strongly linked with disease severity which is why Vitamin D supplementation is necessary for pain relief as well as for prevention of osteoporosis. Unlike calcium, Vitamin D can be difficult to obtain from food. Your best bets are fortified products or supplements, which is explains why Vitamin D supplements are popular and easily available nowadays.
Millions of people around the world have some form of arthritis, and there are more than 100 types of this health condition affecting joints. Eating a well-balanced diet is highly recommended and it also includes lowering consumption of pro-inflammatory foods. Various supplements are used nowadays to relieve symptoms of arthritis, but the studies usually give mixed results. Some studies deny their benefits while others confirm them. However, a lot of arthritis patients use some forms of supplements and they report pain relief and better flexibility. Ideally, you should consult your doctor before you start using supplements of any kind.