National Nutrition Week 2021: Dietary Supplements for Healthy Bones and Joints - Good or Bad?  That's what the expert says

People often turn to vitamins and supplements for bone and joint health | Photo credit: iStock Images

Are you deficient in vitamin D or B12? Are you taking vitamins and supplements to maintain good bone mineral density and joint health? But do you know that excessive use of these things without a prescription can lead to side effects. It is therefore the order of the day to only take vitamins or dietary supplements after consulting a doctor. Read on to learn more about it and be vigilant.

In this article, Dr. Girish L. Bhalerao, Specialist in Orthopedic Surgery at Wockhardt Hospital, shares his insights into the importance, uses, and risks of dietary supplement use for bone and joint health.

Most people encounter bone and joint problems later in life as they age. Nowadays, these problems are more common among teenagers. Thus, problems such as elbow, knee, finger, leg, toe, neck and lower back pain, arthritis, wear and tear of the cartilage leading to osteoporosis, and inflammation are observed in the body in a large number of people the pandemic has risen extremely. Wear and tear on the joints and bones can leave people prone to fractures and injuries from being unable to balance themselves while walking. In order to get the much-needed relief from bone and joint pain, many people are opting for vitamin supplements available in the market. Therefore, people take a multivitamin supplement every day to get enough of the essential vitamins and minerals they need every day. Even if it is advisable to get the vital substances from the food of daily needs, food supplements fill the gap if you cannot meet your needs from nutritious food.

Use of vitamin supplements

Find out about the vitamin supplements available that are commonly used by people:

  1. Fish oil: Those who have bone, joint, heart, and skin problems are often prescribed fish oil, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. The bonus point – it will also help you reduce inflammation in the joints, prevent arthritis and knee pain.
  2. Calcium: Do you regularly suffer from joint and bone pain? Is your bone and joint pain interfering with your daily activities? Is it stealing your peace of mind? Then your doctor may advise you to take a calcium supplement. Calcium supports stronger bones and teeth, helps you get rid of knee pain and joint inflammation.
  3. Vitamin D: Various studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency can cause bone and joint pain. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Taking this vitamin can improve the health of your bones and joints.
  4. Glucosamine: It’s not that popular nutrient, but it does help maintain strong knee joints and prevent cartilage wear and tear. Glucosamine helps you reduce inflammation that occurs due to joint pain. This supplement can be a boon for older adults who suffer from osteoarthritis as glucosamine levels drop with age. It should be noted, however, that after taking the supplement, one will have to wait several months to see the results.
  5. Chondroitin: This is recommended by experts together with glucosamine to avoid joint pain and rebuilt cartilage. Chondroitin is also given to patients with osteoarthritis because it can stop the disease from progressing.

Why is dietary supplement overdose not recommended?

If you’re one of those people who use dietary supplements without a doctor’s prescription, it can do more harm than good. The supplements you use can harbor hidden risks. Side effects such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, headache, dizziness or indigestion, stomach pain, nausea and constipation, muscle disorders, mood changes, skin reactions, drowsiness, kidney and liver problems. You will also be shocked to know that calcium supplements tend to increase the buildup of plaque in the aorta and other arteries.

Bottom line

Do not use any dietary supplement without a doctor’s prescription and you must clarify any doubts about its use with the doctor. If you are taking medication, ask your doctor about the effects of your dietary supplement. In addition, it is always a good idea to adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid vitamin deficiencies. This allows you to maintain mobility and flexibility in your joints. Eat a balanced diet with essential nutrients. Opting for foods like fish, avocados, puffy legs, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, broccoli to get enough calcium, daily exposure to the sun, and regular exercise can help you maintain optimal vitamin D levels. All of these vital strategies can help keep bone and joint problems at bay.

Dr. Girish L. Bhalerao is a visiting author. Views expressed are personal.