A joint supplement contains natural ingredients proven to reduce inflammation, fight oxidative stress, restore flexibility and alleviate pain. Joint supplements are becoming a popular alternative to painkillers for the treatment of joint pain from arthritis and other conditions.
Where painkillers simply dull your nerves to provide temporary relief from pain, joint supplements address the root cause of the stiffness and pain. As a result, they produce a longer-lasting, more satisfying level of relief.
It seems there is a new joint supplement hitting the market every week, with each one promising to deliver the user to the pain-free promised land. We put dozens of the most popular brands to the test and determined that the following are the best joint supplements of 2020.
1. Vita Balance ProJoint Plus
Vita Balance ProJoints Plus leverages the anti-inflammatory power of glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce stiffness, increase flexibility and alleviate joint pain. These two ingredients are joined by 25 mg of MSM, a potent antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and bolsters the strength of bones, cartilage and adjoining tissue.
ProJoint Plus also includes turmeric, another antioxidant that supports the development of healthy cartilage. Taken together, these ingredients – as well as methionine, bromelain, and quercetin – address the problem of joint pain and stiffness from both inside the joint (by bolstering bone, cartilage and ligament health) and outside (by reducing inflammation). The result is greater mobility, reduced stiffness and less pain.
2. Schiff Move Free Advanced Plus MSM
Like many a joint supplement today Schiff Move Free Advanced Plus MSM is built on a foundation of glucosamine and chondroitin. But unlike some other joint supplements, Schiff does not stop there. They also add the powerful antioxidant MSM to reduce oxidative stress that can drive arthritic degradation. And if that is not enough, they also include hyaluronic acid which has its own antioxidant properties and is known for keeping joints well-lubricated.
This is an impressive combination of ingredients designed to provide comprehensive relief from both the pain you are experiencing and the underlying causes. Take 1 tablet 3 times a day, or 3 tablets once with food.
3. Legion Fortify Joint Pain Supplement
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, which you probably know as the spice that gives curry its distinctive yellow color. But curcumin does more than just play second fiddle to curry. It has been shown through clinical studies to reduce joint pain and stiffness as well or better than NSAIDs. And it does so without the stomach upset that repeated NSAID use can produce.
Why are we telling you this? Because Legion Fortify Joint Pain Supplement uses curcumin as its foundational ingredient, rather than glucosamine or chondroitin. Legion Fortify also includes 20 mg of bioperine, which is used to facilitate absorption of the curcumin and other ingredients. And there are 30 mg of the antioxidant boswellia in each capsule as well. If you are looking for an NSAID alternative, here it is.
4. Nuzena Joint Support +
For the folks at Nuzena joint health is all about glucosamine. To that end they supply an impressive 1500 mg of glucosamine in every one of their Joint Support + capsules. Glucosamine is harvested from shellfish (sorry vegans). In humans, glucosamine is found in the cartilage of the joints. Studies have shown that glucosamine supplements can bolster the integrity of human joint cartilage, making for stronger, more flexible, less painful joints.
Just for good measure the makers of Joint Support + also include 25 mg of MSM in every capsule. MSM is quickly emerging as something of a super-ingredient that does everything from reduce oxidative stress to kill certain kinds of cancer cells. Nuzena supplements are made in the US in an FDA certified facility.
5. Zenwise Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate MSM
Florida-based Zenwise has been creating high-quality supplements since their founding in 2014. Today, they are one of the fastest growing brands in the supplement business. That’s because they have a history of sweating the details. With this joint supplement they bring together the twin pillars of joint health, glucosamine and chondroitin and partner them with the antioxidants MSM and curcumin. That buy itself is an impressive lineup.
But they take things one step further by also including hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is great for your skin. But more to the point it also helps lubricate joints. That, in turn, reduces friction which reduces pain and you get to move around a little easier. Zenwise was recently acquired by Maxim Partners. But the new owners have chosen not to mess with this outstanding joint supplement.
6. 1MD MoveMD
1MD takes a slightly different approach to joint relief by building their MoveMD supplement around the still little-known astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a terpene that has been shown to have robust antioxidant properties. Here it is partnered with two types of collagen as well as hyaluronic acid to address joint pain from a multitude of angles. The antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, slow arthritic progression and reduce inflammation.
The collagen is essential for building and maintaining strong bones, and particularly, strong cartilage. And hyaluronic acid ensures the cartilage is well-lubricated and that the joint is flexible. The fact that MoveMD contains shellfish, eggs and dairy will not make everyone happy. Most people though, will not have a problem.
7. Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Health
Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Health contains a lot of glucosamine, not so much chondroitin and a smattering of boswellia, which is included for its antioxidant properties. The combination is tailor made to address joint stiffness due to inflammation.
In doing so it should significantly reduce pain as well. Osteo Bi-Flex makes the unfortunate decision to state categorically on the front of their package that you will enjoy improved joint comfort within 7 days. Many users disagree. But most people who have stuck with the product testify that in time they do indeed see marked improvement, which is why it ends up on our list.
8. Doctor’s Best Glucosamine Chondroitin
Doctor’s Best does not skip on the glucosamin, chondroitin or MSM in this supplement. Each of these three pillars of joint health are represented by at least 1000 mg per serving. That’s ‘per serving’ not ‘per capsule’.
To get all those joint support goodies you will have to consume 4 of these per day. Which means this big bottle is only intended to last 2 months. The small per-capsule dose is why this supplement is number 8 on our list and not higher.
9. Life Extension ArthroMax
Life Extension Arthro Max uses Chinese herbs to prevent inflammatory activity in your joints. By doing so it reduces pain, stiffness and joint degradation. There are a number of ingredients here most will have never heard of before, including Chinese skullcap and cutch tree bark. But while the ingredients may be unfamiliar their properties are not.
Chinese skullcap, for instance, is well-known for fighting inflammation that is at the heart of so much joint pain and stiffness. While cutch tree bark is a potent antioxidant that promotes joint health by undermining the process of oxidative stress.
10. Native Origins Flexify
The marketing for Flexify proclaims that it provides 1690 mg of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and turmeric. But don’t be fooled. That is the total amount of all 4 ingredients in each capsule. Still, there is a lot to like here. Including 1000 mg of glucosamine and an array of supporting players that includes boswellia, turmeric and vitamin D3.
Put them all together and you have a slow-acting but very effective joint supplement that should restore flexibility and strength to your joints while reducing pain and stiffness. Flexify is made in the US in a good manufacturing practices facility under the supervision of the FDA.
What is a Joint Supplement?
A joint supplement is a dietary supplement that contains ingredients know to relieve joint pain and stiffness. Joint supplements do not require a prescription and can be purchased online or in supermarkets, health food stores, and over the counter in pharmacies nationwide. Joint supplements are not painkillers in the traditional sense.
Instead, they address the underlying causes of pain and stiffness, such as inflammation and bone degradation. They do this by using known anti-inflammatories such as glucosamine and chondroitin (1), and antioxidants such as MSM (2), which reduce oxidative stress. As such, it may take a week or two before you start to feel the positive effects of a particular joint supplement.
Who Could Benefit From Using a Joint Supplement?
Those with arthritis – The most obvious group of people that could benefit from joint supplements are those whose joints are under attack from osteoarthritis (3) or rheumatoid arthritis (4). Arthritis is characterized by inflammation that interferes with joint movement and creates pressure and pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are know to reduce inflammation.
Athletes and the athletically inclined – Being physically active is vital to maintaining robust health. But sports and working out can also be hard on the joints. Particularly the joints of the legs. Joint supplements can help the athletically inclined minimize soreness and stiffness and recover faster after vigorous workouts.
Anyone suffering from sore achy joints – People with arthritis and physical fitness aficionados are not the only ones who suffer from sore, achy joints. Most of us at one time or another will experience stiffness due to overexertion, illness or even a change in the weather from high to low pressure (5).
What are the Benefits of a Joint Supplement?
Joint supplements reduce inflammation – Inflammation is the most common cause of joint pain and stiffness. Inflammation (6) is a natural part of the body’s immune response. But sometimes this response goes off the rails and becomes chronic. Arthritis is a good example of chronic inflammation causing pain and soreness. Most (not all) joint supplements today include the anti-inflammatories glucosamine and chondroitin.
Joint supplements fight oxidative stress – Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals. Free radicals (7) are molecules that contain atoms that are missing an electron. These unstable atoms course through your system destroying healthy cells and generally wreaking havoc; a process known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a major cause of inflammation, which in turn is a major cause of joint pain and stiffness. Antioxidants are the natural enemy of free radicals. So, many joint supplements are rich in antioxidants.
Joint supplements can be obtained without a prescription – Most of us are used to getting a prescription for just about everything that ails us. So it is quite the pleasant surprise that something that can make as big a positive impact as joint supplements can be obtained without a prescription. They are readily available from a multitude of online sources, or they can be purchased is supermarkets, health food stores and other brick and mortar outlets nationwide.
Joint supplements with collagen help repair cartilage – Collagen (8) is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is a foundational element of skin, muscles, bones and cartilage. All of those things play a part in joint health and viability but cartilage is what separates one bone from another. Joint supplements that include collagen will take some time to show results. But the long term benefits should validate the wait.
Joint supplements may negate the need for painkillers – There is no positive spin to put on joint pain. It hurts and it prevents you from doing many of the things you love to do. So it’s no wonder so many people look to painkillers for relief. But painkillers come with a laundry list of potential dangers (9). Primary among them the possibility of addiction. Joint supplements can provide the relief you are looking for without endangering your life and future.
Joint supplements may help slow the progression of arthritis – Glucosamine and chondroitin are both effective at reducing inflammation. But it is antioxidants that may actually play a role is slowing the progression of arthritis. That is because of their ability to reduce oxidative stress, as we saw above. Oxidative stress is thought to be a major contributor to arthritis (10). Slowing it, therefore, may well slow arthritic progression.
Joint supplements enable you to exercise – No one wants to exercise if they are going to be in pain the whole time because of their stiff, achy joints. Not exercising, however, only contributes to a downward health spiral. Fortunately, joint supplements can relieve joint pain and discomfort and enable you to resume exercising, which pays a multitude of health dividends.
Joint supplements can improve skin health – That collagen we mentioned earlier that is an ingredient in some joint supplements does more than help cartilage. It is also an important building block of healthy skin. So, at the same time you are enjoying looser, less painful joints, you may notice that your skin is also looking plumper and healthier than it has in some time. Collagen can also help alleviate symptoms of dermatitis and eczema (11).
Joint supplements help athletes recover quickly – Most people think athletes run off the field at the end of a game, hop in the shower, get dressed and head out on the town. But while some do, just as many disappear into the trainer’s room after a game and spend the next hour icing down their swollen, painful joints. Joint supplements can help athletes recover quicker from games, and help the rest of us recover quicker from strenuous training sessions.
Joint supplements can help restore flexibility – Life is not a lot of fun when joint pain causes you to move like a robot. Fortunately, the stiffness caused by inflammation can be effectively addressed with ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin. By reducing swelling in your joints flexibility returns and you are once again able to move about without each step being a painful ordeal.
Joint supplements may help reduce the risk of some cancers – While research is still in its early stages there is promising evidence that MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) can reduce the activity and potency of some cancer cells (12). Though the exact mechanism by which it does this remains a mystery, researchers believe it may damage the DNA of cancer cells, rendering them useless and causing them to die.
Joint supplements may help those with rheumatoid arthritis – Few conditions are as painful and debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis. The condition is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that turns inward and attacks healthy cells in the joints. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but joint supplements that reduce inflammation and counteract oxidative stress can provide much needed relief (13).
Joint supplements containing MSM may help treat hemorrhoids – There is some clinical evidence to suggest that MSM, when combined with some other natural ingredients, may help reduce the pain and swelling of hemorrhoids (14). The evidence is gleaned from a small study, but the results nonetheless speak for themselves. It is not clear whether MSM could prevent hemorrhoids, but it does seem able to treat them once they manifest.
Joint supplements are natural – So many of the things we use today to alleviate pain are concocted in a laboratory. Most undergo rigorous testing to ensure their safety before they are released to the market, but there is always that nagging question: “Is this actually good for me?” Joint supplements, by contrast, are comprised of completely natural ingredients gleaned, as they have been for centuries, from plants and other biological sources.
Do Joint Supplements Have Side Effects?
Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and other joint supplement ingredients are all considered basically safe and well-tolerated by healthy people. That said, too much of anything is not a good thing and that goes for glucosamine as well. Taking more than recommended may cause diarrhea, headache, nausea or heartburn. Same with chondroitin. Too much MSM may cause fatigue, dizziness or insomnia in some people. Again, though, most people will not experience any adverse reactions.
Are Joint Supplements Guaranteed to Work?
There is no way to guarantee that any medication or supplement will work as intended. There are simply too many variables involved to be able to ensure a given result. That said, the ingredients used in the supplements listed above have proven track records of success. While they do not necessarily work for everyone, they nonetheless provide relief for enough people to recommend their use. Keep in mind too, that these supplements are very affordable. So if one supplement does not work, you can always try another, and another until you find one that does.
Is There a Downside to Glucosamine?
If used as directed, not really. Glucosamine is used by millions of people every day with few, if any, reporting adverse reactions to it. Some medical professionals suspect glucosamine may interfere with the effectiveness of acetaminophen, some types of insulin, and perhaps some chemotherapy medicines. But there is, as of this writing, no hard, clinical evidence to support those fears. If you believe glucosamine is having an adverse effect on your health you should stop taking it immediately and consult your doctor.
Are There Other Non-Prescription Alternatives to Joint Supplements?
When it comes to alleviating pain and stiffness from arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints, the number of non-prescription alternatives is extremely limited. You could try adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids do not address damage to the joint, but what they can do is reduce inflammation (15), which is often behind much of the stiffness and soreness. Beyond that, your options are few and far between.
The Bottom Line
Joint supplements represent a low-impact way of dealing with debilitating joint pain without the need for potentially dangerous prescription drugs. Joint supplements leverage the power of well-known and proven anti-inflammatories like glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce swelling, restore flexibility and alleviate pain.
Joint supplements are not like painkillers. Painkillers simply deaden the nerves but do not address the underlying problem. Once they wear off the pain is still there. Joint supplements take a more holistic approach and address the inflammation, oxidative stress and other issues that are causing the pain. By doing so, pain is reduced and your life gets a little easier.
The above supplements have all proven their worth. They contain highly effective ingredients and are produced by some of the best supplement makers around. Use the above information to help you decide which joint supplement is just right for you.