BY: DEEDRA MASON, DIRECTOR OF NUTRAMETRIX AND CLINICAL EDUCATION
The endoskeleton of humans, referred to as vertebrates, is composed of rigid bones that come in all shapes and sizes. Of their many functions, providing internal structure is the main purpose. To facilitate movement, a joint is located where two bones connect.
Bones act to protect the various organs of the body. The skull shapes the face and protects the brain. The backbone protects the delicate spinal cord which facilitates messaging between the brain and body. The heart, liver, lungs, and spleen are protected by the rib cage and the intestines, bladder and, in women, the reproductive organs are protected by the pelvis.
Bones have metabolic functions in which they store minerals, growth factors, and fat; they also balance blood pH, act as an endocrine organ and have detoxification properties. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are the most notable minerals stored in bone.
Movement of the body is made possible through the use of joints — they allow for flexibility of the skeleton. There are different classifications of joints depending on their movement. Some joints, such as the knee or elbow, open and close like a hinge. Others have a much broader range of movement, such as the hip, which can move front, back, sideways and rotate. Joints are classified based on their range of motion. Some joints are immovable, such as the fibrous joints between skull bones.
Other joints are partially movable and just move a little. The spine is an example of such cartilaginous joints where each vertebra moves in relation the one above and below it. The last classification is probably the one that most people think of when they imagine a joint – it is a free moving, or synovial, joint. Synovial fluid lubricates this type of joint and allows it to move easily.
Genetics, excess stress on the body, aging and not getting enough nutrients can affect the bones and joints. Research shows many supplements can and do help. Some of the most popular natural ingredient supplements can mimic, affect or contain compounds found in healthy joints, such as cartilage and fluids.
Pycnogenol® is a clinically studied ingredient and has demonstrated its ability to promote joint mobility and flexibility.
Hyaluronic acid is a component of synovial fluid in joints and is one of the main lubricating components. It is also anchored covalently to cartilage and helps to absorb water to keep cartilage smooth and lubricated. Supplementation appears to aid in the lubrication and cushioning of joints.
Glucosamine is one of the most well-known ingredients in joint health. It is naturally found in exoskeletons of shellfish as polyglucosamine. Glucosamine helps produce glycosaminoglycan, which is an important component of connective tissue and present in joint cartilage. Glucosamine helps to support healthy joints by increasing joint fluidity and may help regenerate cartilage.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.