With so many joint supplements on the market and so many different ingredients to choose from, it can be just overwhelming trying to make a good decision for our horses. I found this article and felt like it put this topic in perspective for me. Therefore, I thought it might be able to shed light on the subject for all of you.
How to Choose a Joint Supplement
Equine joint and connective tissue stress can cause lameness, stiffness and swelling, ultimately affecting the horse’s cooperation, performance and general wellbeing. In many cases, joint health can be supported with regular replenishment of the body’s joint protecting nutrients in oral form to help maintain healthy function. Supplementation is excellent for horses with existing joint problems and can also be implemented as a preventative measure.
Joint Supplements provide ingredients that have inherent, tissue protective and natural properties to support joint tissues, such as cartilage, synovial fluid, tendons and ligaments. Among these, the most well known and most used ingredients are Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM. These nutrients support equine joint health, which reduce the risk of joint stress from everyday activities and events such as trail rides or more competitive, stressful equine endeavors. For many horses, these simple foundation formulas work very well. However, there are times when a stronger, more complex formula is sought, either because of inherent weaknesses or the stress of competitive events. Additional joint tissue support ingredients include Hyaluronic Acid, Silica, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Cetylated Fatty Acids, Vitamins, Antioxidants, Herbs and Botanical Extracts.
The most important of all the joint nutraceuticals is Glucosamine, the key building block for tissue integrity, with studies showing that Glucosamine supplementation provides symptomatic relief from pain, more rapid recovery, and partial restoration of joint function. The two forms of Glucosamine in pure form, hydrochloride and sulfate, deliver equally effective forms of Glucosamine. However, glucosamine hydrochloride contains approximately 25 – 30% more elemental Glucosamine for considerably less cost.
Chondroitin Sulfate is the primary substance found in cartilage. Its key functions include the ability to inhibit enzymes that degrade cartilage tissue, increase water retention for synovial fluid production and the ability to utilize Glucosamine in the formation of proteoglycans. Proteolglycans organize Collagen and water binding to give cartilage its desired flexibility, resiliency and resistance. Chondroitin Sulfate has also shown the ability to activate chondrocytes, which produce new collagen.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is found naturally in food and throughout the body. A bio-available source of sulfur, MSM is important for connective tissue production and repair and has been shown to reduce cartilage breakdown by protecting the cartilage tissue. Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is also found throughout the body, with the highest concentration in soft connective tissue. HA gives elasticity to the joints and retains water in the cellular matrix. It is important for tissue hydration, lubrication, and proper cellular function.
Olive Extract is a powerful antioxidant from olive oil and fruit. It aids in stabilizing cell membranes and supports liver, brain, heart, joint and connective tissue health. Cetylated Fatty Acids (CFA) are a combination of specific fatty acids that support joint and connective tissue health, as well as balanced immune response to stress. Silica is a mineral involved in collagen production and calcium metabolism. It supports joint, connective tissue, bone, heart and digestive health. Silica supports hair, skin and hoof health, as well as trace mineral metabolism.
The Vitamins B-6 and B-5 support the horse’s ability to manage the metabolic distress associated with joint issues. The powerful antioxidants, Vitamin C in the buffered form of calcium ascorbate and Grape Seed Extract, can reduce free radical load, as well as minimize the stress associated with greater physical activity. Bio-Active Whey Protein is a nutrient that has particular benefit in supporting joint health by balancing immune and gut function.
Many herbs and botanical extracts have shown great promise in supporting joint health. Yucca and Boswellia extracts enhance the benefits of the foundation ingredients by reducing oxidative stress that can increase free radical formation and generate a greater stress on the joints. Devils Claw Extract, Turmeric Extract, Cat’s Claw, Fever Few, White Willow, Cayenne and other fruits, vegetables and their extracts have shown significant value as part of a well-balanced joint support formula. These plant-based phytonutrients have demonstrated natural antioxidant, anti-free radical activity, tissue fluid balancing effects, as well as discomfort modulating properties.
Manufacturing Standards Matter
Not all nutritional joint products are created equal. The grade of the raw ingredients, the potency and formula combination are just a few of the important facts that will determine the product’s effectiveness. Also, the label claim for the ingredients in any supplement should be accurate and precise. Good quality manufacturers regularly test their products to validate that the levels of ingredients listed on the label are actually contained in the product at the same levels. Quality testing to assure ingredient purity and integrity is an essential component for offering superior, highly absorbable and well-utilized nutritional products for joint support.
The NASC, a Regulatory Body for Animal Nutraceuticals
It is strongly recommended that any joint supplement being purchased is stamped with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) Seal of Approval. The NASC’s overriding goal is to protect and enhance the integrity of the animal health product industry. The cornerstone of NASC’s mission is to work cooperatively with state, federal and international government officials to create a legislative and regulatory environment that provides a framework that is fair, reasonable, responsible and nationally consistent.
The NASC Seal of Approval ensures that ethical manufacturing and labeling practices are complied with throughout the industry in an atmosphere of safety, accuracy and quality. All NASC members must undergo and pass a required, rigorous independent audit of its facilities. Upon completion of this audit, members are qualified to display the NASC Seal of Quality to show consumers they are committed to the “highest current standards of quality in the industry today.”
The NASC advocates and collectively enforces Good Manufacturing Practice Quality Standards in manufacturing, labeling and marketing animal health supplements. In addition, NASC members establish funding and facilitation of significant research for animal nutritional products and actively participate in programs of continual vigilance to ensure the quality of ingredients in these products.
Guidelines for selecting a joint supplement:
- Is the manufacturer an established company with a proven track record?
- Is there a lot number, tracking system and quality control?
- Are the product label claims based on solid research data and evidence?
- Are administration and dosage directions clear and easy to follow?
- Are the contents and a best-if-used-by date clearly indicated on the label?
- Is the manufacturer and contact information clearly on the label?
I hope that this little article clears up some of the confusion for you. I know it did for me. I can now read the label and actually understand the ingredients and their intended purpose. Reading this article helped me make an educated decision when choosing the correct joint supplement for my horse.This is article is borrowed from the Uckele Nutritional Archives.