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Friday, April 24, 2015

Supplements for joints

Now that I am old and rickety and have the hips of a 75 year old, I have started taking some joint-supporting supplements.

The first is actually a bone supplement, which I am taking to strengthen bone after taking long-term NSAIDS twice in the past year. At the time, post-op, I wanted to inhibit bone growth to prevent heterotopic ossification, but now I want my bones strong again: especially my socket and femoral head, which both had bone removed in my left and right hips.
Bone-up is a multi-vitamin and mineral with a form of calcium that is best deposited in bone (heads-up: it's not vegetarian). It also contains magnesium, vitamin D, manganese, and zinc - required for bone and tissue health. A bottle of 240 capsules is $19; recommended dose is 6 capsules per day, but I actually take just 2 capsules. I think supplements should supplement your diet, not replace dietary intake.
Bone Up supplement facts

I also take glucosamine. There is a great deal of conflicting evidence regarding glucosamine, and the largest, highest powered, placebo controlled clinical trials generally show no benefit to glucosamine (read about it here, combined with chondroitin and with an endpoint of statistically significant pain relief, and here alone with an endpoint of joint cartilage loss).  Two things to point out, though. In some studies, including the first one linked above, glucosamine reduced joint pain in moderate-to-severe pain sufferers. And in the second study, subjects taking glucosamine alone experiences the least loss of cartilage to the joint (although only the knee was examined). So, I take glucosamine, mostly because if it DOES have a joint protective effect, I'd like to take advantage of it - even though I realize it may not. Glucosamine can be purchased cheaply on its own, especially on sale - usually they are $9 for 150, but buy-one-get-one free. I take 1000mg a day, although again - a higher dose is recommended.

Lastly, I also take Univestin, in the form of these pretty Joint Care Pearls. Univestin is a combination of herbs, a trademarked blend of flavans, shown to reduce joint pain. Univestin apparently acts on the COX 1 and 2 and LOX pathways, so a lot like an NSAID, which means that I'm basically taking it just for joint pain. But I'm also taking it for mobility - when compared head to head with celecoxib (Celebrex), only Univstin improved joint mobility, although both groups experienced improvements in pain. Since that could point to anotther mechanism with joint-protective properties, I take 2 capsules  day. Univestin is $10 for 90, and it is also usually buy-one-get-one-free at Walgreens.
Ingredients list


  1. It's good that you have a job and background that allows you to fully understand supplements and which you might want to take!

  2. I should be taking some/most of these things due to my RA! I will have to look into buying some of them.

    1. I recommend Univestin for patients who are on long-term NSAID therapy if they want to take a break. The thing is, I think it's a potent enough inhibitor that I'd consider it duplication of therapy to take along with ibuprofen or naproxen, so I have to make sure to warn patients about doubling up!

  3. I'm late, but this is REALLY helpful. Dunno if you knew this, but I have osteoporosis in my spine, and I'm constantly trying to figure out what's best to take. The bone-up looks good, especially since it lacks phosphorus (which most calcium supplements have - which is bad, since Phosphorus can actually leach calcium from your bones).

    And I take your recommendation very seriously, because i figure you're probably clued in to which supplements actually contain what's listed on the label. :)

    1. Honestly - don't take it too seriously! There is little to no oversight of supplements, so there could be sawdust in here for all I know. In fact, I think the Finest Nutrition brand was one that recently tested as no active ingredients. I kind of rust Jarrow, who makes Bone-Up; they're reputable and have been established in the health food community for a long time. And I GUESS the joint care pearls are correctly labeled, only because it's a proprietary blend.
      I do recommend Bone-up for osteoporosis patients (and I like to keep tabs on some phosphorus-free options for my kidney patients!).

  4. You're never too young to look after your body and for you it's an investment on all the time and pain you've been through to get things right.