Stiff, achy joints and brittle bones don’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. Natural supplements and nutrients can help keep us strong, explains Dr. Matt Murphy, a chiropractor and practitioner at our Napa store. These remedies, along with vitamin-rich foods and exercise, can go a long way in keeping our bones and joints fit and feeling good.
Keep inflammation down
As we age we notice the after-effects of physical activity a lot more than we used to. Natural anti-inflammatories can help reduce the swelling and pain of achy joints, and may be safer than pharmaceutical NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Dr. Murphy tell us.
“Chronic, long-term use of NSAIDS may actually damage joints, and reduce cartilage. Natural turmeric, bromelain and ginger work well to reduce swelling and related pain.” Pharmaca's Turmeric & Bromelain Capsules combine the anti-inflammatory power of turmeric root extract and curcumin (turmeric’s active compound) with bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that enhances absorption. Gaia Herbs' Ginger Supreme Caps blend ginger root extract with turmeric to ease inflammation in joints. And systemic enzymes, such as Garden of Life's Wobenzym, can also help break down inflammation-causing proteins in the joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another good choice for helping reduce inflammation and keeping joints lubricated. A diet that includes omega-3 rich foods is your first line of defense, but if yours doesn’t include plenty of fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines, a natural omega-3 supplement like Pharmaca's Omega-3 Clinical Strength Fish Oil can help.
Repair the damage
When cartilage (the cushion in the joint) breaks down, natural supplements can help repair the damage, says Dr. Murphy. Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are found in and around the tissue that surrounds joints, have been found to help reduce pain and stimulate the repair of cartilage. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), a naturally occurring sulfur compound, is often combined with glucosamine and chondroitin because it can slow down joint degeneration and help speed exercise recovery.
Pharmaca's MSM with Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfates has all three of these active ingredients. Glucosamine usually comes from shrimp or crab shells, so those with shellfish allergies or sensitivities can use Genuine Health's Fast Joint + Care. It uses natural eggshell membranes (NEM) that provide similar joint benefits, and studies have shown it works well in reducing pain and increasing flexibility.
Build strong bones
Women over the age of 50 (and men over 75) need to take extra care of their bones to prevent osteopenia (low bone density) and osteoporosis. “Calcium and magnesium supplements, taken with vitamin D to help absorption, are the way to go. Jarrow Formulas' Bone-Up features calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, along with boron, an essential nutrient that helps build healthy bones,” says Dr. Murphy. And be sure to take calcium supplements twice a day instead of all at once for better absorption.
Dr. Murphy also reminds us to include light resistance exercise in our workout routine to increase bone density, and eat bone-strengthening foods including dairy, dark leafy greens and fish like tuna and salmon that are rich in vitamin D.