7 Best Joint Supplements (2024) What Can Relieve Pain Best? 

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Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 20, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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Many of my clients come to me for an exercise routine to help them better deal with joint pain. It’s a common issue that becomes more of a problem with natural aging.

But adjusting your exercises will only solve so much of the issue.

Your joints will also need certain micronutrients to repair any damage. And that’s the case for sports injuries as well as arthritis pain.

But rather than just take the risk of picking up some snake oil being hyped up online, I want to give you some information I got from a nutritionist.

Apparently, there are some micronutrients that could provide anti-inflammatory benefits to improve your joint health.

Quick Summary

  • The seven best joint supplements for 2023 are Glucosamine Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Fish Oil/Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Curcumin, and Capsaicin, each offering unique benefits for joint pain relief.
  • These supplements are crucial for joint health, particularly beneficial for individuals with osteoarthritis or those engaged in intense physical activities.
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride, a more pure form of glucosamine sulfate, has a similar effect on joint health, as noted in the Clinical Interventions in Aging.
  • From a personal perspective, incorporating these supplements, particularly Glucosamine Sulfate and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, has significantly improved my joint health and performance in MMA training.

Types Of Joint Supplements:

Beyond supplements, incorporating a balanced diet rich in natural glucosamine and chondroitin sources, and following anti-inflammatory dietary patterns, can significantly enhance joint health and overall well-being.

When considering joint supplements, it's crucial to acknowledge the environmental impact of their ingredients, such as the sustainability practices in fish oil harvesting or the agricultural methods used for plant-based components.

1 - Glucosamine Sulfate

Glucosamine Sulfate

Scientists have done a lot of research into glucosamine sulfate, and it’s often recommended to people who suffer from knee osteoarthritis, according to the WebMD [1].

In my MMA training, glucosamine sulfate has been a game-changer for managing my knee osteoarthritis.

The reason it’s important for joint health is that this sugary substance is part of the cartilage in your joints.

It’s an important factor that provides some cushioning and protects bones from rubbing against each other.

Many joint pain issues may be the result of some compromised cartilage, so it’s an important ingredient to look out for.

"Glucosamine supplements may reduce pain in this manner, and some of them may help slow down osteoarthritis progression."

- Thomas Hyde, Chiropractor

If you eat shellfish on a regular basis, or you make your own bone broth, then you’ll likely get a good dose of glucosamine sulfate. 

But these aren’t all that common food sources, which is why glucosamine may be a better option.

You might also find supplements that contain glucosamine hydrochloride. The effect of glucosamine hydrochloride is very similar much similar with glucosamine sulfate, the only difference is that it’s a more pure form, according to the Clinical Interventions in Aging [2].

That also makes glucosamine hydrochloride considerably more expensive, which is probably why it’s not used that often for dealing of joint pain.

2 - Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin are known to be a normal part of cartilage, and many people take these two together to battle knee osteoarthristis and other joint pain issues.

Combining glucosamine and chondroitin has significantly improved my joint resilience in the ring.

There have also been many studies conducted on how glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate interact together when it comes to joint function and overall joint health.

However, many people wrongly believe that chondroitin supplements may actually provide anti-inflammatory effects on joints that already have been compromised through injury or disease.

Chondroitin, like glucosamine sulfate, is a key component of cartilage. In arthritis, weakened cartilage leads to bone friction, causing pain.

Chondroitin is believed to maintain the cartilage's elasticity, supporting its role in many supplements for joint health.

“In addition, chondroitin sulfate may also help slow the breakdown of cartilage and help restore cartilage growth to better cushion the joints.”

- Thomas Hyde, Chiropractor

That would explain why studies have shown an improvement in the quality of the cartilage after going through a trial period.

3 - Fish Oil/Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fish-Oil Omega 3 Fatty Acids

I remember being forced a spoon of fish oil every morning before I went to school.

And it turned me off it once I became an adult. But I now understand how important fish oil supplements might be for my health, especially in my joint health.

What was new to me is that research has shown that it may help with joint pain management as well.

Scientists have tested out doses of 1 to 3 grams per day to see how it might impact joint stiffness, pain, and other related issues.

The results have been positive, according to the UPMC [3].

Omega 3, rich in docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, benefiting both stomach and joints.

Trials indicate reduced joint stiffness and swelling, with improved blood flow during exercise also noted.

Conveniently, omega 3 is available in capsule form, eliminating the need for raw fish oil consumption.

Related Article: Best Omega 3 Supplements

4 - Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Gamma Linolenic Acid

Some of the more severe joint and knee pain issues I’ve witnessed are from arthritis. But even if you don’t have joint problems that are that severe, you may want to look at what the medical industry recommends for patients suffering from arthritis pain.

Our dietitian pointed out a few studies to us that have involved patients taking borage seed oil.

“Borage seed oil is a nutritional supplement which is rich in essential fatty acids that can regulate the body’s immune system and fight joint inflammation.”

- VersusArthritis.com

This oil is full of fatty acids. But unlike fish oil, it’s more heavily focused on an Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) [4].

Integrating GLA into my diet has helped maintain my joint health, crucial for my performance in MMA.

Normally, your body processes sufficient GLA, essential for cell structure maintenance and joint health. However, dietary factors and aging can disrupt this process.

Be aware that GLA supplements can cause side effects like stomach cramps and rashes in some individuals.

5 - Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Methylsulfonylmethane

Methylsulfonylmethane is also one of the best joint supplements you can find. Nope, I have no idea how to pronounce this stuff, but my dietitian has said I’ll get away with just calling it MSM.

MSM has been a key supplement for me, especially for reducing post-training swelling.

There have been several studies that involved human testing in assessing how a strong dose of MSM would impact back, knee, and hip joint pain.

Most tests were conducted on patients with severe issues, but I know of several performance athletes who use MSM as well to reduce swelling during high-intensity training phases.

And for bodybuilders that could make this an important ingredient.

Scientists believe that it may be one of the more potent ways to reduce inflammation, which is why you should be able to find it in quite a few joint supplements.

Side effects also seem to be very limited, especially at the lower doses that would be common in supplements.

6 - Curcumin

cucurmin

Curcumin is the main active substance that makes turmeric such a potential miracle spice. If you like Indian food and curries, then you’ve probably experienced this spice on a few occasions.

Adding curcumin to my diet has significantly eased my joint pain, making my training sessions more effective. It has a yellow color, and it’s not an overly hot spice.

Many people take turmeric supplements because science has shown that it may have positive effects on your stomach, digestion, and metabolism.

The thermogenic effects seem to be particularly interesting for the weight loss industry, as it may help to burn off a few extra calories per day.

It has also been extensively tested for helping with joint pain relief in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

The results have been positive with large numbers of patients in several studies reporting significantly less swelling, tenderness, and improved knee joint function.

If you like Indian cooking, then make sure you try to add some turmeric extracts or supplement to your diet to benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects.

Just be careful not to add too much or you might experience gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

7 - Capsaicin

Capsaicin

This is the substance that gives chili peppers their hot flavor. But don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you burn your mouth with a plate of hot chilies every day.

But research does seem to support that capsaicin may help with joint pain relief in a surprisingly direct way.

Using capsaicin has provided me direct relief from joint pain, especially after long sparring sessions.

Scientists believe it’s not so much an anti-inflammatory but rather works by making muscles and joints less sensitive to pain.

Apparently, this is an effect that may need to build up over time. That’s why many experts recommend that you take a small dose per day, to gradually build up the effect on nerve endings.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/glucosamine-sulfate-uses-and-risks#1
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686334/#:~:text=Glucosamine%20sulfate%20requires%20compound%20stabilizers,(Owens%20et%20al%202004).
  3. https://share.upmc.com/2014/11/4-fish-oil-facts-help-ease-joint-pain/
  4. https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/complementary-and-alternative-treatments/types-of-complementary-treatments/borage-seed-oil/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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