For anyone regularly exercising, especially in high impact sports, such as those which require running and jumping, or loading the body with extremely heavy weights regularly, such as powerlifters, the joints and bones can take a hit over time. While it is easy to put this to the back of ours minds as a problem for our future selves, prevention is always better than treatment. To avoid injury, increase longevity in your sport, and look out for your older self, we highly recommend adding in supplements to support your joints early.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Fish oil refers to two types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids can be obtained by consuming oily fish (mackerel, salmon, etc) however it can be both difficult and expensive to get enough, especially as these foods are luxuries for many of us, and not 'go to' protein/healthy fat sources. In mince, studies have shown a beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids on bone mineral density. Furthermore, supplementing the diets of growing rats with omega-3 fatty acids results in greater bone formation in rats. Results in humans are mixed and require more research.
Glucosamine Chondroitin is commonly used to combat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Supplementing chondroitin may block the enzymes which work to break down cartilage in conditions such as osteoarthritis, therefore slowing its progression.
Glucosamine Sulphate works by decreasing the rate of degradation of collagen (joint tissue), making it particularly beneficial for athletes taking part in high impact sports. Like chondroitin, it might also slow the development of osteoarthritis, something to consider for those at risk.
Supplementing collagen, a complex protein, has been shown to increase the body's production of its own collagen, thereby increasing bone mineral density by optimising the production of bone tissue. Furthermore, it decreases the symptoms of inflammatory conditions affecting the joints which athletes often develop from overuse.
Vitamin D (with K and Calcium)
Vitamin D is an essential fat soluble vitamin and a common deficiency across the population due to the lack of UV light exposure in the UK climate to stimulate its production from cholesterol. Research has shown Vitamin D supplementation to be effective in reducing the risk of fall related fractures in the elderly. Vitamin D is highly recommended for masters athletes, especially those participating in higher impact sports, although anyone can benefit.Vitamin K works well alongside Vitamin D and interacts with calcium ions in the body. Regularly hitting your recommended daily allowance of vitamin K is associated with improved bone circumference and diameter, improved bone mineral density and decreased risk of bone fracture.
If you are experiencing joint pain that is new, always consult a doctor or physiotherapist, as appropriate, before trying to self treat. As mentioned, these supplements can be excellent for prevention or treating symptoms of a known issue that you are dealing with, but always check with a professional if you are unsure of the root cause of aches and pains or need specific advice on a supplement or medication!
McMahon, M. (2012). Beneficial Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Bone Metabolism. Orthopedics, 35(9), pp.735-736.