If you’re one of the millions of people who’s ever searched for relief from achy, stiff joints, than you know how saturated the market is with supplements that claim to ease your symptoms.
Many of those joint health supplements are full of ineffective ingredients and deceiving labels. In fact, in 2015 the New York State attorney general’s office accused four major retailers of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements.(1)
That’s why it’s so important to understand how to read labels and know what to look for when shopping for a joint health supplement. So we’ve put together a quick guide with all the crucial information you need.
AVOID GENERIC INGREDIENTS
Many of the joint supplements available on the market list great ingredients, however, that does not mean these are quality ingredients.
Some brands will opt for cheaper generic options in an attempt to keep costs down. But when it comes to making a quality, effective supplement, cutting corners is never the way to go.
Not all generic ingredients have been clinically proven to work. In fact, some studies have even found that clinically tested ingredients are up to 300 times more effective than their generic versions.
So look for labels that consist of patented blends, such as Longvida® Optimized Curcumin or Curcumin C3 Complex®. You'll know it's generic when brands list ingredients, like turmeric, by themselves.
high Dosages as a marketing tactic
Don’t be fooled by large dosages of ingredients. Many brands will try to trick you into believing that their supplement will work by putting an unreasonably large dosage of ingredients. It's a common marketing gimmick that's easy to fall for.
For example, if an ingredient, such as turmeric curcumin, is listed at 1,800 mg, that doesn’t mean it will actually help give you some much needed relief from stiff joints. It just means that the supplement is pumped full of ineffective ingredients.
It all comes down to the quality of the ingredients, so if a supplement is using a cheap generic version of an ingredient, it doesn’t matter how high the dosage is — you still won’t feel results.
So don't fall for this manipulative marketing tactic, because when it comes to finding a joint supplement that works, the golden rule to follow is 'quality over quantity.'
SAY NO TO GLUCOSAMINE AND CHONDROITIN
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most common ingredients used in joint health supplements, but according to recent research they’re not as effective as many brands say they are.
One study that was examining their impact on joint mobility, was stopped early when a handful of participants reported that they’re symptoms were actually getting worse.(2)
These ingredients have also been linked to diarrhea, headaches, drowsiness, and in some cases glaucoma.(3)
Plus, if you’re allergic to shellfish, you should definitely reconsider taking glucosamine, since it’s often derived from crustaceans.
STAY AWAY FROM NATURAL CARAMEL COLOR
Many soft gel supplements use natural caramel color, but despite what the name implies, it’s far from natural. It’s made with small amounts of the chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel). This chemical, in large doses, has been linked to seizures and tumor growth in animals.(4)
There haven’t been any studies done on humans yet, but if these preliminary studies on animals have worrisome results, it’s probably best to stay away.
The bottom line
Stiff, achy joints and can really slow down your life and prevent you from enjoying all the activities you love. That's why finding the right supplement that can deliver the relief you need is so important. But with hundreds of joint supplements littering the market, it can be difficult to pick the right one.
That's why we went hard at work to help you sift through all those confusing (and at times deceiving) labels. And after intensive research, using our own strict Smarter Reviews criteria, we've narrowed down the top 5 best joint supplements currently on the market. Be sure to click the link below to check them out.
1. Connor A. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. Well. 2018. Available at: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/.
2. Robert H. Shmerling M. The latest on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements - Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. 2018. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-on-glucosaminechondroitin-supplements-2016101710391.
3. Robert H. Shmerling M. The latest on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements - Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. 2018. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-on-glucosaminechondroitin-supplements-2016101710391.
4. Chan P, Hills G, Kissling G, Nyska A. Toxicity and carcinogenicity studies of 4-methylimidazole in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice. Arch Toxicol. 2007;82(1):45-53. doi:10.1007/s00204-007-0222-5.