What to Do When the Joints Aren't Jumpin'
Remember the good old days when you could play and exercise seemingly forever? We all could spend hours running, riding a bike, skiing, swimming, playing ball, dancing, gardening, or even jumping rope. I remember feeling invincible, like there was nothing I couldn't do…until one day when soreness set in. Then stiffness came along, with aching following closely behind and lasting for days. Like me, you now probably notice more cracking and popping in your joints. You also suffer stiffness when you wake up in the morning, and a general loss of fluidity in your movement.
Welcome to aging joints. No one likes to acknowledge the fact that as we age, we have to live with joints that no longer want to jump and move like they did when we were 20. But aging can be a lot more graceful with some care and lifestyle changes.
At least 80 percent of people over age 50 have joints that aren't what they used to be—that's about 12 percent of the U.S. population. I could be counted among that group because my joints took a beating as a result of participating in high school and college athletics. The difference is that I don't suffer. I know what to take and when to take it for maximum joint mobility and comfort.
Your life can be miserable when your joints aren't operating as they used to. Many of my patients try popular medications for relief. While they usually work for the short term, you should never rely on them long-term due to their side effects, many of which are serious, such as gastrointestinal bleeding. On top of that, they don't get at the cause of your problem—they simply mask the symptoms.
The years and an active lifestyle can take their toll on your joints. The secret to healthy joints is to support your joints and their surrounding cartilage, from the inside out, with proven nutrients, like those below.
Glucosamine sulfate is a natural glucose substance found in your joints that helps build cartilage and maintain joint fluid thickness and elasticity. This in turn helps to cushion the joints. I recommend 1,200–1,500 mg per day.
Chondroitin sulfate works with glucosamine to lubricate joints and make tendons and ligaments more elastic. Shark cartilage is a good source of chondroitin. I recommend 500 mg daily.
Sea cucumber extract is another source of chondroitin. Take at least 75 mg per day. I recommend the extract combined with glucosamine and other nutrients.
Uña de gato, also known as cat's claw, contains more than 40 compounds, several of which help joints. Begin with about 200 mg. You can safely take up to 3 grams daily. (Caution: Cat's claw activates your immune system, so if you've had an organ or tissue transplant you should not use this herb.)
White willow bark is a safe and effective natural cousin to aspirin.
Bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple, improves your circulation, speeding the removal of toxins that cause joint discomfort. Take 100–500 mg daily.
Boswellia is an extract of a tree that grows in the dry, hilly areas of India. Studies have shown that boswellic acids are helpful to joints. Take 900 mg daily.
Feverfew helps promote strong, healthy joints. Take 50–100 mg per day for prevention.
Yucca is an herb traditionally used by Southwestern Indians. It contains saponins, compounds that interfere with prostaglandins. Begin with 100 mg per day.
Fish oil/essential fatty acids. Look for a good fish oil supplement that delivers a combination of EPA fats and DHA fats, available in a softgel or an easy-to-swallow liquid.
Curcumin and resveratrol. These two nutrients work synergistically. Take 500 mg of curcumin and 30 mg of resveratrol daily.
If this list of suggestions overwhelms you, consider trying just a few of the recommendations and see what works best for you.
Supplements Alone Can't Do It All
Of course, any health program should include:
- A high-quality multivitamin/mineral supplement.
- Gentle exercise to get blood flowing to your joints, particularly those that seem to cause you the most problems. Yoga, T'ai Chi, Qigong, and swimming are all excellent, safe activities for people who want to maintain healthy joints.
- A diet full of healthy oils and antioxidants. Olive, flax, and walnut oils are some of your best bets.
Enjoy What You've Just Read?
Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides for Dr. Sinatra!
Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Favorites
Doctor-recommended support for healthy cholesterol ratios, blood pressure & overall heart health
Refuel your cellular engines for efficient heart function
Strength, energy, endurance--get the targeted nutrient support a man needs most
Stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and balanced with nutrient support designed to meet a woman's needs