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Best Joint Supplement

Creaky bones could become a problem of the past with the help of our top 7 joint supplements.

Last Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Best Joint Supplement

About 91 million adults in the United States — more than one-third of the population — have some form of arthritis. Despite what popular culture might lead you to believe, arthritis and other joint problems affect more people of working age than they do the elderly. It can keep you from doing work you enjoy, spending time with family and friends, and, in extreme cases, caring for yourself. Joint pain isn’t limited to arthritis; even healthy people are vulnerable to joint problems and overuse injuries like bursitis, sprains, and strains.

Supplements are an easy way to boost your joint health with minimal extra effort. Whether you’re looking to support healthy joints or ease joint pain due to arthritis, there are supplements that can help. Since joint pain is such a common condition in the U.S., there are a lot of different joint supplements — and not all of them work as well as they claim. We picked our top seven joint supplements based on their value, ingredient makeup, testing stringency, and more. This guide will walk you through exactly what makes them so good to help you find the right joint supplement for your needs.

Don’t have time to read the full article right now? Check out our top picks below.

Summary of recommendations

Our Top Choice

Zenwise Joint Support

Zenwise Joint Support contains glucosamine sulfate - a clinically-backed ingredient that reduces inflammation and supports cartilage.

Zenwise manufactures all products in cGMP-compliant U.S. facilities and tests in-house. Enjoy free expedited shipping and a risk-free guarantee on every order. Subscribe to save 15%.

Our top joint supplement considerations

Quality

Winner: Zenwise

The biggest downfall of joint supplements is that there are many ingredients we think might be able to support our joints, but very few have been proven to work consistently in clinical research. We found a few valuable studies that were unbiased by corporate influence and were well-performed, and we noted what they used to help joints feel better (and in what doses). Proven ingredients and products and well-sourced ingredients contribute to a supplement’s quality.

Zenwise’s Joint Support is the only supplement on our list that uses glucosamine sulfate, a potent but expensive kind of glucosamine relied upon in clinical studies. Most other supplements use glucosamine hydrochloride, which is still effective but isn’t studied. It provides research-backed doses of glucosamine and chondroitin, the two most important ingredients for joint health, and close-to-perfect doses of supporting ingredients, though there are a few fillers and additives. Ultimately, Joint Support harmonizes into a majorly effective supplement in line with the best studies.

Cost

Winner: Xendurance

The cost of a supplement comes down to more than just the sticker price. While that’s a good starting place, considering the number of servings per container, subscription program discounts, bulk deals, and sales can shift that number dramatically. Customer service features like money-back guarantees and return policies also affect the overall cost. If you can’t return a product but try it and don’t like it, that can make a big difference.

Xendurance’s Joint-4 doesn’t look like it has the best price at first, but that’s because most joint supplements contain 30 servings per container. Joint-4 has 90 servings in each $39.95 bag, meaning you get three times as much product for less. And while it might not be the least expensive option on our list after subscription savings, its formula is one of the strongest, so you’re getting more bang for your buck than cheaper competitors. Xendurance also offers a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can easily get your money back if their formula doesn’t work for you.

Ingredients

Winner: Physio Flex Pro

Just saying a supplement has the right ingredients doesn’t mean it’ll work. It’s important for the ingredients to be available in clinically-backed quantities, to be made or sourced effectively, and to pair together in ways that make sense.

Physio Flex Pro does an excellent job of piecing its formula together. It’s the only joint supplement on our list that combines curcumin with black pepper extract, which has been proven to increase how much curcumin the body can absorb. And while it might not have very much glucosamine or chondroitin, two ingredients our bodies naturally produce, its herbal ingredients are where this formula shines; bromelain, ginger, MSM, and selenium all work together to decrease unwanted joint inflammation and stiffness.

Safety

Winner: Xendurance

The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as prescription medications and food. Hence, it’s up to companies to do the right thing and consumers to be aware of what it is they’re ingesting. Safety includes everything from a thoroughly-labeled and well-tested ingredients list to independent third-party testing and GMP compliance.

Xendurance ensures that all of their products are tested and backed by prominent organizations, including Informed-Choice Trusted by Sport and Informed-Sport Trusted by Sport, which are similar testing processes for sports nutrition. Having both certifications is a big bonus despite their similarities. It means that Joint-4 is regularly and rigorously tested with every single batch of product before it hits the shelves, as well as being purchased and tested blind once a month to ensure that no bias or quality issues occur after Joint-4 has been made. From this third-party testing to simple, effective ingredients at healthy doses, Xendurance takes time at every step to ensure you’re getting the safest possible product.

Convenience

Winner: 1MD Nutrition

The easier it is to take a supplement, the more likely you’ll be able to stick with it and, hopefully, feel its effects. We always consider convenience when researching, testing, and analyzing supplements since their makeups and requirements can vary dramatically among manufacturers.

1MD Nutrition’s MoveMD is the only joint supplement on our list that only requires one capsule a day; most others need you to take two or three daily to feel the full effect. These capsules aren’t particularly large, and you don’t need to take them with a meal or at a specific time. Plus, 1MD Nutrition walks you through exactly when you can expect changes to start occurring on MoveMD’s webpage, so you know exactly what to expect.

How our top recommendations compare

We’ve put together a chart to give you a fast and easy way to compare our top joint supplements. Check it out below for the differences in value, ingredients, customer support, and more.

  Zenwise Xendurance Physician’s Choice Physio Flex Pro New Chapter Schiff 1MD Nutrition
Cost $20 $40 $27 $58 $38 $20 $50
Number of servings 30 90 30 30 30 40 30
Cost per serving $0.67 $0.44 $0.90 $1.93 $1.27 $0.50 $1.67
Pills per serving 3 3 3 2 3 2 1
Glucosamine content 1,500mg 750mg 1,500mg 500mg   1,500mg  
Chondroitin content 1,200mg 600mg 500mg 100mg   200mg  
Other active ingredients MSM, Boswellia, turmeric, hyaluronic acid MSM, bromelain MSM, calcium fructoborate, turmeric, Boswellia Selelnium, ginger, turmeric, MSM, black pepper Vitamin D3, K1, K2, calcium, magnesium, strontium, silica, vanadium MSM, calcium fructoborate, hyaluronic acid Collagen, Boswellia, astaxanthin, hyaluronic acid
Vegetarian?
Yes
 
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Subscription available
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
 
Yes
Return policy Lifetime 30 days 60 days 60 days 60 days 30 days 90 days

What are joints?

Joints are parts of the body where two or more bones meet. They are made mostly of cartilage, a flexible connective tissue that coats the part of both bones that lie next to each other. The space between the cartilage is full of synovial fluid, a watery substance that keeps friction low, to create a capsule made out of tissue called the synovial membrane. Some large joints, like shoulders, knees, and hips, have fluid-filled sacs called bursae that help cushion the bones even more. But in all joints, both bones are held together with ligaments and tendons.

There are three major kinds of joints:

Fibrous joints

These joints are fixed and don’t move easily, as they don’t have a cavity or capsule. Joints in the skull are often fibrous.

Cartilaginous joints

Cartilaginous joints are made mostly from cartilage, which allows for flexibility and a little bit of movement. They can withstand a lot of weight and pressure from this added joint. The left and right halves of your pubic bone are connected by a cartilaginous joint.

Synovial joints

These are the joints people most often think of when they hear “joint.” They are significantly mobile and have the aforementioned cavities full of synovial fluid. Hips, elbows, and knees are synovial joints.

There are 360 joints throughout the human body. They allow us to grab, walk, throw, and do countless other tasks of daily living. Yet, we so often only notice them when they cause problems.

What causes joint problems?

Joint problems stem from damage done to your joints through wear-and-tear or inflammation damaging chondrocytes, the cells that make up your cartilage. This can come from any number of things, but we’ll discuss four of the most common sources: arthritis, injury, age, and other medical conditions that can cause joint problems.

Arthritis

There are over 100 diseases under the arthritis umbrella. While the most common type, osteoarthritis, tends to affect older adults, anyone can develop arthritis, even children. Some of the more common types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Lupus

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases we develop as we age. It’s commonly thought of as a “wear and tear” disease, meaning that it occurs from standard bodily processes taking a toll on your body and breaking down the cartilage in your joints. It affects specific joints (rather than all at once) and is most commonly found in the hands, hips, and knees. One out of every 10 adult men and 13% of adult women in the United States have osteoarthritis in their knees alone.

On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system mistakes your joint lining for an invader and attacks it, leading to swollen, inflamed joints that are stiff and painful. Over time, when untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to bone and joint deterioration.

Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are the main symptoms of all kinds of arthritis. While you can manage it with prescription medication, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers, some opt to take joint supplements instead.

Injuries and overuse

It’s unfortunately easy to injure your joints. Even if you’re not one of the 91 million who have some kind of arthritis, anything from playing tennis to walking around your neighborhood can injure your joints. These injuries aren’t often permanent like arthritis and other diseases, but when left untreated, they can destabilize your joints and cause more problems long-term.

Since your joints hold bones together and allow full range of motion, anything that affects the bones, tendons, or ligaments around a joint ultimately affects your mobility. This includes sprains, strains, and fractures. Dislocating joints is also surprisingly easy and the most common kind of joint injury — particularly if you have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a group of inherited disorders that affect your connective tissue.

Overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow and bursitis, occur when you’ve repeatedly put too much stress on a joint. You can get an overuse injury from just about anything you do, as long as it involves movement in a joint, but poor technique makes it much more likely to occur.

Those who carry a few extra pounds also put themselves at higher risk of joint problems. When weight-bearing joints, such as your knees and hips, have to carry more weight than they’re built for, it increases the chances of an overuse injury.

Age

Not only does your risk of arthritis increase over time, but aging itself can cause joint problems. Starting around age 30, you lose bone density (escalating for women after menopause). Your joints begin to lose synovial fluid, becoming stiffer and less flexible. Likewise, your ligaments shorten, decreasing your range of motion. All of this combines to create creaky bones, bent posture, and over-flexed hips and knees, making overuse injuries more likely because of the strain already put on the stiff joints.

Unfortunately, because aging is a natural process, there isn’t much we can do to stop joint degeneration over time. However, taking care of your bones by exercising regularly, building strong muscles around your joints, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help keep your joints strong for longer.

Other medical conditions

There are dozens of other reasons you might experience joint pain. It’s an extremely common symptom related to inflammation, which many joint supplements target by including anti-inflammatory ingredients. Some other disorders that can affect your joints include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lyme disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Still’s disease
  • Some cancers
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Celiac disease

Supplements aren’t medications, nor should they be treated as such. They aren’t regulated by the FDA like prescription medications. While all our top picks are safely manufactured and tested, you can’t expect a supplement to treat or cure any conditions. Always follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t be taking.

How joint supplements work

Just as there are many ways your joints can be out of alignment, there are many ways to offset, slow, or dull an ache that doesn’t involve prescription medication. Joint supplements are just one of the tools you have to support your joints. But there are many kinds of joint supplements, all with different ingredients. We’ll go over the most common — and most useful — ingredients below.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is one of the most common ingredients in a joint supplement. It’s an amino sugar naturally found in our cartilage that helps to build physical structures and keep them in place. Taking glucosamine as a supplement won’t rebuild the cartilage you’ve lost or damaged, but it might prevent further breakdown.

There are three kinds of glucosamine you’ll find in a joint supplement:

  • N-acetyl glucosamine
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride
  • Glucosamine sulfate

Currently, glucosamine sulfate is the most effective in studies. That’s not to say that N-acetyl glucosamine and glucosamine hydrochloride aren’t effective, but instead that more research is needed to figure out what about glucosamine sulfate makes it effective. Unfortunately, most supplements use glucosamine hydrochloride in their formulas, so they might not be as effective as the prescription glucosamine supplements available in Europe that are the subject of most glucosamine studies.

Glucosamine in supplements is either made from scratch in a laboratory or harvested from shellfish shells. On average, successful studies gave between 1,500mg and 3,000mg of glucosamine daily.

Chondroitin

Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a compound that naturally occurs in your body. It helps your joints’ elasticity by allowing them to retain water and protect chondrocytes, the cells that maintain cartilage structure. Chondroitin can be found in food, too — gristle, for example, is extremely high in chondroitin, though it has nowhere near as much as a supplement. It’s often made from shark or beef cartilage. When supplemented, it’s thought that chondroitin reduces inflammation in both the synovial membrane and chondrocytes.

Current research on chondroitin — specifically chondroitin sulfate — is mixed. Some studies suggest chondroitin isn’t useful for those who have osteoarthritis, specifically in their knees or hips. Others point out that it inconsistently provides either significant differences in pain or nothing at all for those with moderate to severe osteoarthritis. Small, short-term studies show chondroitin can improve pain by 20%.

Chondroitin is generally considered slightly less effective than glucosamine but more effective than many herbal remedies. When useful in studies, it’s generally given at doses between 800mg and 1,200mg and used in combination with glucosamine.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both naturally found in our cartilage and work together. Their inclusion together might not be physiologically necessary but can provide some benefit above either of them individually. Many European countries prescribe a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin; the United States doesn’t due to mixed research.

The most extensive study on glucosamine and chondroitin to date found that they don’t affect pain in those with mild osteoarthritis but help those with moderate to severe symptoms. After two years, researchers followed up and found that pain decreased the most in the first 18 weeks of treatment and that glucosamine on its own had the most benefits for patients. It’s unclear if either ingredient helps those with osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees.

Curcumin (turmeric)

This common spice has a lot of promise in the supplement sphere. Turmeric is well-known for having an extensive anti-inflammatory response in its primary polyphenol, curcumin. Curcumin both provides turmeric’s iconic yellow color, quiets inflammation, and increases the number of antioxidants that the body produces. Some studies suggest that curcumin might work to relieve joint pain by preventing the death of chondrocytes and suppressing inflammation.

When it comes to arthritis and other sources of joint pain, curcumin seems to be relatively effective. One recent study compared it to diclofenac, a topical NSAID pain relief medication for arthritis, and found that it provided similar results in the short term for people with osteoarthritis in their knees. Clinical researchers agree that, while it looks promising, more research is necessary to determine if curcumin could work to quiet arthritis symptoms.

Most studies use 400mg to 1,000mg of curcumin daily to see effects. However, it’s relatively rare to see this much turmeric in supplements; blends often cap out around 250mg.

Some recent analyses have found high levels of lead from pigment in turmeric, so be careful when picking a joint supplement. Make sure that turmeric-containing supplements have been tested for heavy metals.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is an organic sulfuric compound that provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bonuses to our bodies. It’s a common ingredient in all kinds of supplements but has a special place in joint supplement makeup; most studies show it works to the same degree as glucosamine.

Studies investigating osteoarthritis show that it might help manage osteoarthritis symptoms like pain and joint stiffness. MSM has a better track record in meta-analyses than many other supplement ingredients (with more rigorous, accurate studies), but it isn’t yet clear to what degree MSM might work against arthritis pain. It appears to support joint health even outside of arthritis. When given MSM after running a half-marathon, participants reported less muscle and joint pain (though not so much as returning them to pre-marathon levels).

There haven’t been many long-term studies on the effects of MSM, but short-term studies show minimal side effects (only an upset stomach at the start of treatment in a few participants). Most studies that provide effective results use a dose between 2g and 6g.

Other common ingredients

There are dozens of other ingredients you might find in a joint supplement. Below, we’ll explain their research and reasons to include the best of them.

Black pepper extract

Black pepper extract has a unique relationship to turmeric. Just as curcumin is the chemical in turmeric that does the heavy lifting, piperine in black pepper helps the body to absorb curcumin, boosting how much gets absorbed into the body and how long it sticks around. Formulas that include black pepper extract or piperine alongside turmeric are more likely to see stronger and longer-lasting effects.

Calcium fructoborate

Calcium fructoborate is a relatively new ingredient approved to be safe for human use by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in mid-2021. It has been studied concerning joint pain since the late 1990s. It’s also found naturally in dried fruits like raisins and freeze-dried apricots. Calcium fructoborate has been shown to have a protective effect against inflammation associated with inflexibility, stiffness, and pain from osteoarthritis and has lowered joint pain in other studies (in doses of 110mg per day). One study showed that combining calcium fructoborate with glucosamine and chondroitin increased their absorption, but that study was retracted for reasons not stated.

Collagen

Collagen is a protein that helps your body build cartilage. It’s also found in your skin, tendons, bones, and connective tissue. While supplemental collagen can be great for your skin and bone health, research is mixed on whether or not it can help your joints. Some studies say that collagen supplements improve symptoms of osteoarthritis. Still, larger studies report that people feel little to no difference in pain — but a significant decrease in stiffness — due to osteoarthritis symptoms while taking collagen alone. These results depend on the kind of collagen you’re taking, as there have been 20 types identified to date.

Omega-3

These fatty acids are nutrients that support cardiovascular health by lowering your blood pressure, triglycerides, and the risk of blood clots. But they can also reduce inflammation all over your body. Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may decrease swelling and tenderness in joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Vitamin D

Achy joints are a common complaint from those deficient in vitamin D. The steroid also helps your body absorb calcium, which can help strengthen your bones (and, by proxy, relieve some pressure put on your joints). It’s not uncommon to see vitamin D in joint supplements, as many people with joint pain also have vitamin D deficiencies, but the relationship isn’t particularly cut-and-dried. Studies have shown that people with lupus are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, but supplementing your diet with vitamin D if you aren’t already deficient won’t help to improve your osteoarthritis symptoms.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is one of the most important vitamins for bone and joint health. It can help prevent cartilage calcification — a condition most people experience but one that can lead to osteoarthritis down the road. A recent study showed that blocking vitamin K with warfarin speeds up the progression of osteoarthritis, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your vitamin K levels if you’re currently taking an anticoagulant.

S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe)

SAMe is a natural compound produced by the liver that helps cells maintain their membranes throughout the body. Not much is known about SAMe yet, but a few studies have looked at SAMe’s effects on depression and osteoarthritis. A 2002 analysis showed that SAMe had about the same effect on osteoarthritis as regular NSAID use, but that study hasn’t been replicated yet.

Many joint supplements also include antioxidant ingredients in their formulas. As of yet, there hasn’t been much evidence that antioxidants have particular benefits for joint health. However, one 2016 review suggests that oxidative stress does contribute to cartilage damage and that a diet high in antioxidants is an economical, effective way to offset or minimize that oxidative stress. So while you shouldn’t need to look for a joint supplement with tons of beta-carotene, vitamin C, or vitamin E, supplements with Boswellia and other antioxidants can provide a little extra power.

Some people also use topical creams with ingredients like capsaicin or CBD to target and relieve symptoms from one joint. These are valid modes of action and can be great for pain relief, but we won’t focus on them in this guide.

Who shouldn’t take joint supplements

Joint supplements are safe for most people. You might experience a bit of gastrointestinal discomfort when you first start taking them, but that side effect eases after a few days of regular use. Joint supplements aren’t typically recommended for people who have osteoarthritis in their knees, as many studies have shown little to no effects.

Most glucosamine is found naturally in the outer shells of shellfish. Unless a supplement containing glucosamine explicitly states that they create their glucosamine from something else or are vegan, it’s best to stay away if you’re allergic to shellfish. Likewise, unless otherwise noted, chondroitin is often taken from shark or bovine cartilage.

There are a few conditions and medications with which joint supplements interact poorly.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are great anticoagulants. This means that they keep your blood from clotting, so joint supplements don’t mix well with prescription anticoagulants like warfarin. The EFSA declared in 2011 that glucosamine and chondroitin should not be used alongside anticoagulant medications based on more than 40 studies.

In some studies, glucosamine has caused difficulty regulating blood sugar and liver damage. However, these studies were small and didn’t replicate easily, with more recent studies showing no link between glucosamine and blood sugar control; in the case of liver damage, all evidence comes from a few cloudy case studies. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your doctor first if you’re interested in trying a joint supplement and have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or a liver condition.

Pregnant and lactating people shouldn’t take joint supplements. Neither should children under 18. And, as always, supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way as prescription medications or food. They aren’t proven to treat, diagnose, or cure illnesses or diseases. If you have questions that our guide can’t answer, reach out to your doctor.

Zenwise Joint Support

Best overall

Pros

  • Contains hefty amounts of every important ingredient
  • Glucosamine sulfate included
  • Manufactured in a cGMP-verified facility
  • Tested in-house
  • AVA-certified vegetarian
  • Strong customer service
  • 100% risk-free guarantee
  • Free expedited shipping on every order
  • Subscribe & Save 15%

Cons

  • Large tablets
  • Contains several fillers and additives
  • No third-party testing

This advanced strength joint supplement from Zenwise provides both anti-inflammatory and cartilage support, helping the body prevent future cartilage damage and deterioration.

Zenwise’s formula is the only one on our list that contains glucosamine sulfate, the kind used in clinical studies. It’s most likely to accurately reflect what we know glucosamine can do, making it one of the most likely options to actually work. Its ingredients all come in hefty doses:

  • Glucosamine sulfate: 1,500mg
  • Chondroitin: 1,200mg
  • MSM: 1,000mg
  • Boswellia serrata gum: 100mg
  • Turmeric root: 100mg
  • Hyaluronic acid: 25mg

One of the more unique ingredients this formula includes is hyaluronic acid. The trendy facial moisturizer ingredient is also found in our synovial fluid, helping to cushion and absorb shock. Hyaluronic acid works exceptionally well when injected into the problem joint, the most common way you’ll see it used. It’s also been shown to relieve joint pain and stiffness in athletes almost immediately. Research on its ingestion is sparse, but oral hyaluronic acid seems to affect joint health positively.

On the other hand, Joint Support’s great ingredient list comes with some not-so-great inclusions too. This joint supplement has the most additives and filler ingredients on our list, including:

  • Microcrystalline cellulose (a non-digestible natural polymer traditionally made from wood pulp)
  • Stearic acid
  • Croscarmellose sodium (an additive that increases disintegration)
  • Silicon dioxide (an additive and anti-caking agent)
  • Glycerin

Other ingredients, such as dicalcium phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, and hypromellose, help offset potential side effects and boost the active ingredient’s main effects. While it sources some ingredients from shellfish shells, making this choice unsuitable for those who are allergic, the supplement is still vegetarian-friendly and certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA).

Each tablet is quite large, and several of our testers found them a little difficult to swallow. Since they come in a hard tablet rather than a capsule or softgel, we recommend cutting them in half, though that does mean you’ll take six smaller tablets for one daily serving.

Like all of Zenwise’s supplements, Joint Support is manufactured in cGMP-compliant U.S. facilities and tested in-house.

Pricing

Zenwise sells their Joint Support in one size: a bottle of 90 tablets (30 servings). Every bottle ordered as part of a one-time purchase costs $19.97. (This price reflects what’s available on Zenwise’s website; we found even better deals through iHerb.)

If you know that you like Zenwise’s Joint Support supplement, you can join their Subscribe & Save program to cut 15% off your order for a new monthly price of $16.97. You’ll receive a new bottle of Joint Support every 30 days, and while you can’t change the frequency of deliveries, you can easily skip or cancel your subscription at any time.

Zenwise offers a risk-free guarantee that grants you a no-hassle, money-back guarantee no matter how long it’s been since you ordered from their website. And while they don’t ship internationally, all orders from the United States get free expedited shipping, so you’ll never have to worry about calculating a fee.

Xendurance Joint-4

Best budget pick

Pros

  • Well-balanced potent formula
  • Backed by strong scientific evidence
  • 90 servings per container
  • Informed-Choice and Informed-Sport Trusted by Sport
  • Subscribe and save 10%
  • Joint Team XND and save 25% sitewide

Cons

  • No free shipping
  • Starts with six capsules a day

Xendurance’s Joint-4 combines a superb value with great ingredients that are frequently tested to ensure excellent quality. One serving of Joint-4 includes:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: 750mg
  • Chondroitin: 600mg
  • Boswellia extract: 300mg
  • MSM: 750mg

All four ingredients are some of the best for joint support and are available in reasonable quantities. The biggest downside is that one serving is three capsules. However, to start with, Xendurance recommends taking three capsules in the morning and three at night, shifting each day’s glucosamine, chondroitin, Boswellia, and MSM intake into the ranges used in clinical research. If you find success after one month, decreasing to the listed three capsule serving will maintain your joint health. One bag contains 90 servings, so even when you’re getting started, you’ll be able to make each purchase last.

Joint-4 is both Informed-Choice and Informed-Sport Trusted by Sport. Sport is a certification agency for athletes, and their certifications ensure that supplements are high quality and don’t include any banned substances. These certifications are very similar, but there are some critical distinctions between the two.

  Informed Sport Informed Choice
Testing frequency Every batch Once a month
What’s tested Pre-market supplements Supplements from store shelves
Number of batches checked per test Three At least one
Batches stored?
Yes
Yes
Blind testing?
Yes
Yes
Accredited?
Yes
Yes

Being both Informed Sport and Informed Choice certified guarantees that everything goes smoothly from pre-production to the moment you open it at home with some of the best independent third-party testing around.

Pricing

Joint-4 comes in one size and costs $39.95 if you want to try it once. If you know you’ll like it, you can join Xendurance’s subscription program and save 10% ($35.96) on monthly deliveries. It’s relatively easy to change, skip, or cancel your deliveries, too, but they only ship once a month. You’ll still need to pay shipping, which varies depending on your order and where it’s headed. Shipping for one bag of Joint-4 costs about $5.

Xendurance has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Whether or not you’ve tried it, anything you don’t like is eligible for a full refund within 30 days of purchase.

You’ll save 25% on every purchase and unlock free shipping to the United States if you join Team XND, Xendurance’s paid membership program. Membership also includes bonuses like $100 in product rewards and double points for their rewards program. It costs $95 a year to be a Team XND member.

Physician’s Choice Joint Support

Best vegan option

Pros

  • Provides scientific citations for all of their claims
  • Fully vegan formula
  • Thorough third-party testing
  • Subscribe and save 30%
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Free shipping on every order

Cons

  • Three pills per serving
  • Doesn’t list MSM or L-leucine content

Physician’s Choice boasts a clean vegan formula, firmly adhering to their mission of ethical sourcing and contaminant-free products, which is evident in the formulation for their joint supplement, Joint Support. Joint Support is free from:

  • GMOs
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Additives
  • Fillers

Joint Support is made in NSF- and GMP-certified facilities and is tested by an independent third party to ensure you’re getting the safest, most effective formula. Each serving of Joint Support contains:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: 1,500mg
  • Phytodroitin, a vegan chondroitin: 500mg
  • Calcium fructoborate: 300mg
  • Organic turmeric root: 216mg
  • Boswellia gum resin extract: 100mg
  • MSM
  • L-leucine

While Physician’s Choice claims that glucosamine hydrochloride is more effective than glucosamine sulfate, very few studies show this. Not only do most studies use glucosamine sulfate, meaning that most of what we know about glucosamine comes from that form, but some studies have actually shown that glucosamine sulfate is more effective in increasing synovial fluid concentration than its hydrochloride cousin. Glucosamine hydrochloride is also more likely to cause problems with blood clotting when paired with warfarin. However, this glucosamine is provided at a clinically-backed dose.

There’s no information about the amounts of MSM or L-leucine in this Joint Support formula. L-leucine is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that helps your body build muscles. There’s very little research yet on L-leucine’s role in joint support, but it might be included so that weak muscles surrounding joints aren’t playing into any joint pain you may be experiencing. However, given that there’s no information about either of their dosages, it’s safe to assume MSM and L-leucine are probably only available in small amounts.

Despite these shortcomings, Joint Support is still the best vegan joint supplement on the market. Their ingredients are (for the most part) supported by clinical research and relatively close to the doses used in studies, meaning that they’re more likely to work legitimately. It’s also one of the most robust products on our list.

One serving of Joint Support is three capsules, which is a little inconvenient. It does mean that you can ease into taking Joint Support at your own pace or dial back a dose if you find three capsules too strong. However, it appears to be most effective when taken at full strength.

Pricing

One bottle of Joint Support costs $26.95, a markdown from the $29.95 that sometimes is displayed on Physician’s Choice’s website. You can either purchase it as a one-off or join their subscription program. Subscribing saves you 30% off the list price, dropping what you pay to a mere $18.87. Subscriptions automatically ship monthly, and you can cancel or skip them with little hassle.

All Physicians Choice orders come with free shipping, but you can also purchase their products in most Walmart stores or online at Amazon. Like Physicians Choice’s other supplements, Joint Support is covered under a 60-day money-back guarantee. All products need to be unopened and unused in their original packaging with a receipt for Physicians Choice to accept the return and refund you the cost of the order. You’ll need to email or call their customer service team to initiate the return.

Physio Flex Pro

Best natural ingredients

Pros

  • Pairs turmeric with black pepper extract for maximum efficacy
  • Well-studied and proven ingredients
  • Made in cGMP-verified and FDA-registered facilities
  • Physiotherapist-approved formula
  • Bundle and save up to 10%

Cons

  • Out of stock at time of writing
  • On the expensive side
  • No free shipping
  • No subscription option

Physio Flex Pro was inspired by the number of people who suddenly found themselves having joint problems after exercising more at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the founder created Physio Flex Pro in December 2020 with the help of orthopedic and nutrition experts.

This supplement’s formula is based primarily on natural ingredients. One two-capsule serving includes:

  • Selenium: 200mcg
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: 500mg
  • Bromelain: 300mg
  • Ginger extract: 250mg
  • Turmeric extract: 200mg
  • Chondroitin: 100mg
  • MSM: 100mg
  • Black pepper extract: 10mg

The key ingredient that distinguishes Physio Flex Pro from other joint supplements is black pepper extract. The household spice works in tandem with turmeric extract, dramatically increasing how much your body can absorb — and, therefore, how much of it you’ll feel. While available in relatively small doses, each ingredient interacts with the formula to give you the most of what you need.

Physio Flex Pro is manufactured in a cGMP-compliant facility and is quality tested in-house.

Pricing

While we think Physio Flex Pro is doing a lot of things right, there’s one major issue: it’s out of stock at the time of writing this article. They offer a 5% discount on pre-orders and reportedly plan on getting it back in stock soon, but there isn’t any other place to order it, so know there will be a wait if you want to try Physio Flex Pro’s joint supplement.

There isn’t a subscription program available for Physio Flex Pro, either. However, you can order in bulk for a slight discount:

  • One month: $58
  • Two months: $114 (save 5%)
  • Three months: $160 (save 10%)

According to their FAQ, there’s a chance that Physio Flex Pro will be offered on subscription in the future, so if that’s something you absolutely have to have, keep an eye on their website to stay in the loop.

Physio Flex Pro doesn’t offer free shipping, but everything ships at a flat rate of $5 in the United States. They absorb some of the cost of international shipping, but prices vary depending on your location.

New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care Slim Tablets

Easiest to swallow

Pros

  • Small tablets perfect for easy swallowing
  • Fermented ingredients
  • NSF-certified gluten-free, non-GMO, and USDA organic
  • Available in multiple size containers
  • 15% off your first order when you sign up for their newsletter
  • Free shipping on orders over $50
  • Subscribe and save up to 20%

Cons

  • Three tablets per serving
  • Fermented ingredients don’t agree with every stomach
  • Joint support not as clear-cut

Some supplements are advertised for one function but are just as good for another. New Chapter’s Bone Strength Take Care tablets are a great example of this phenomenon. While they’re advertised and designed for bone strength, they also contain many ingredients that are just as good for your joint health.

They contain:

  • Vitamin D3: 25mcg or 1,000IU
  • Vitamin K1: 35mcg
  • Vitamin K2: 45mcg
  • Calcium: 905mg
  • Magnesium: 62mg
  • Strontium: 5.5mg
  • Silica: 2mg
  • Vanadium: 14mcg

Of these ingredients, vitamin K, vitamin D, magnesium, and strontium are the most important for your joint health. While studies looking at strontium’s effects on joint health focus on injections rather than supplements, it still shows impressive results in slowing the progression of osteoarthritis.

All of these ingredients are fermented. This is one of New Chapter’s hallmark approaches. It makes them easier to digest, but fermented foods can cause problems for some people with gastrointestinal disorders.

Bone Strength Take Care offers two different tablet sizes: Slim Tablets and Tiny Tabs. Both have the same ingredients and strengths, but Tiny Tabs are half the size of Slim Tablets. Slim Tablets are still relatively small, and because they’re hard tablets, you can easily break them in half if you find they’re not small enough to swallow. We recommend the Slim Tablets over Tiny Tabs, as it takes six Tiny Tabs to reach one serving size (compared to three for Slim Tablets).

These joint supplements are NSF-certified gluten-free, non-GMO, USDA-certified organic, and 100% vegetarian. They’re extensively tested in-house (though not by an independent third party) for purity and quality, and harvest their ingredients from sustainable sources like red marine algae.

Pricing

New Chapter offers several different sizes of Bone Strength Take Care Slim Tablets.

  Standard cost Subscription cost (1-3 products) Subscription cost (4+ products)
30 count $16 $13.60 $12.80
60 count $28 $23.80 $22.40
90 count $38 $32.30 $30.40
120 count $48 $40.80 $38.40
180 count $67 $56.95 $53.60
270 count $109 $92.65 $87.20

You can have your subscription delivered every one, two, or three months, and it’s easy to change that frequency, skip a delivery, or cancel your subscription altogether. All New Chapter deliveries ship free over $50 and cost a flat rate of $5 otherwise.

If you don’t love your Bone Strength Take Care Slim Tablets, you have 60 days to send them back from the time you purchased them for a refund. You’ll need to include the original code from the bottom of the purchase, your full name and mailing address, and a receipt when you send it back. Notably, New Chapter only accepts one refund per household, so be conscientious about what you’re trying from their company. If you aren’t sure if you’ll like it, we recommend ordering the smallest size bottle to start.

Schiff Move Free Advanced Plus MSM & Vitamin D3

Best for athletes

Pros

  • Potent formula
  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Small tablets easier to swallow
  • Two tablets per serving
  • 30-day return window
  • Free shipping on orders over $30

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide any information on testing or quality control
  • No subscription program
  • Returns are difficult

Schiff, the company that makes popular supplements like Airborne, also has a line of joint supplements called Move Free. These joint supplements are potent and just as powerful as their immune support counterparts, but we found that their Advanced Plus MSM & Vitamin D3 version took the cake. In every serving, you’ll find:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: 1,500mg
  • MSM: 750mg
  • Calcium fructoborate: 216mg
  • Chondroitin: 200mg
  • Hyaluronic acid: 3.3mg

Every serving is only two tablets which you should take with food. There’s little to no information on Schiff’s website about any kinds of testing or quality control, which is a red flag, but they’re owned by the same company as Lysol, Enfamil infant formula, Clearasil, and Air Wick, among others, and are sponsors of the Arthritis Foundation, so that information is likely just hidden from the public. However, it still keeps information out of your hands as a consumer.

Pricing

Schiff’s Move Free Advanced Plus MSM & Vitamin D3 is available in two sizes:

  • 80-count: $19.99
  • 12-count: $29.65

There’s no subscription program, nor are there any bulk discounts. Shipping is free on orders over $30 and is a flat fee of $5.99 for lesser orders. At this time, they don’t ship internationally.

Schiff offers a 30-day return window, but you’ll need to meet a few requirements first. To be eligible for a return, you’ll need to send back the bottle unopened in its original packaging and a “saleable condition.” It’ll need to be packaged within 30 days of purchase, and they can refuse a refund for any reason. Plus, if you return it for anything other than damages, defects, or if Schiff sends you the wrong item, you’ll need to pay for return shipping.

1MD Nutrition MoveMD

Best collagen-based joint supplement

Pros

  • Contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant
  • GMP-certified
  • One capsule per day
  • Free shipping on almost everything
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Subscribe and save up to 40%

Cons

  • Ingredients lean experimental
  • Not vegan- or vegetarian-friendly

If you aren’t convinced by the current research on glucosamine, chondroitin, and curcumin, you can try other kinds of joint supplements. 1MD Nutrition’s MoveMD is an excellent example of an alternative supplement. This joint supplement is recommended by a board-certified rheumatologist and contains:

  • Boswellia gum resin extract: 100mg
  • Astaxanthin extract from algae: 2mg
  • Types I, V, and X eggshell membrane collagen: 100mg
  • Type II chicken sternum collagen: 280mg
  • Hyaluronic acid: 25mg
  • Vegetable oil powder

Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant found in krill that gives them their remarkable red color. It works hand-in-hand with the Boswellia extract to decrease free radical damage. At the same time, collagen and hyaluronic acid support the joints.

More than 20 kinds of collagen have been identified, but there are five main types. MoveMD contains two of the four most common (I and II, which comprise more than 90% of total collagen combined) from chickens. Type I, in particular, is well-known for its use in commercial tissue regeneration. A few studies have shown that taking type I collagen orally can protect the chondrocytes in joints, slowing the progression of diseases like osteoarthritis. Others have found that those taking type I collagen experience less joint pain in the knees, a part that’s notoriously hard to affect with more traditional joint supplements. There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to prove type I collagen’s safety and effectiveness, but it’s a promising start.

1MD Nutrition uses GMP-certified facilities to make their supplements in the U.S. The webpage for MoveMD has an interactive timeline that helps you understand when to expect different results, as not everything happens all at once. (Of course, take this with a grain of salt; everyone’s body behaves differently.)

Pricing

1MD Nutrition has a complicated pricing structure depending on how many bottles you’re ordering and whether or not you’re joining their subscription program.

  One-time cost Subscription cost (per bottle) Subscription cost (per order)
One bottle $49.99 $40.99 N/A
Three bottles $43.99 $35.99 $107.97
Six bottles $37.99 $29.99 $179.94

Except for a one-bottle one-time order, all packages from 1MD Nutrition have free shipping. Subscriptions are automatically shipped every one, three, or six months, depending on the number of bottles you purchase. No matter what, you can skip, change, or cancel your subscription without penalty.

1MD Nutrition also offers a 90-day money-back guarantee. Regardless of why you want to return the package, if you send the bottles back within 90 days of purchase, 1MD Nutrition will give you a full refund. The only exception is that you can’t send back empty bottles before the time in which you would’ve used them; they won’t accept an empty six-month supply after 30 days, for example.

FAQ about joint supplements

Do you have to take glucosamine and chondroitin together?

No, nothing says glucosamine and chondroitin must be combined in a joint supplement. Research shows that glucosamine might work better on its own. A few of our top picks have one but not the other. However, because they’re both naturally found in the body and work together in the cartilage, many products pair glucosamine and chondroitin to create a potent joint supplement.

Why are glucosamine and chondroitin used together?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both found naturally in our cartilage. They are compounds that already work together in our bodies to protect cells called chondrocytes, which control most of the cartilage and are responsible for cartilage formation. When you pair them in a supplement, they may work together to boost chondrocyte functioning and protect the chondrocytes that are already there, creating a win/win scenario for your cartilage.

Are some ingredients better for joint pain?

No supplement can replace pain relievers like NSAIDs, but some ingredients may help to minimize joint pain. Anti-inflammatory ingredients — such as turmeric, ginger, and vitamin D — are particularly good at pain relief since they can reduce inflammation in sore joints, decreasing swelling and stiffness. Calcium fructoborate has also shown promise in studies, significantly lowering participants’ pain scale ratings after two weeks of daily use. All joint supplements will do something to help joint pain, though, whether that’s bolstering cartilage or decreasing swelling.

How can I prevent joint pain due to aging?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop your body from aging. While you can take joint supplements to help offset pain, inflammation, or weakness, a supplement can’t treat or cure any disease or disorder and certainly can’t cure aging. Cartilage doesn’t grow back once it’s gone, either. The best thing you can do is ensure that your joints don’t deteriorate more in the future.

How long do I need to take a joint supplement?

The length of time you take a supplement is a conversation between you and your doctor. As of yet, there haven’t been any studies suggesting long-term use of joint supplements causes health problems. (There also haven’t been many studies looking at joint supplements over the long-term.) The primary study that looked at long-term joint supplement use suggests that you get the most benefits by 18 weeks and then maintain those benefits. There’s no reason to stop if there’s no undue financial burden and you don’t feel any side effects.

Alternatives to joint supplements

If you aren’t ready to take a joint supplement just yet, or are just starting to experience joint pain and stiffness, there are some other steps you can take before you call up a physical therapist.

Move regularly

The best way to keep your body limber is to move it often. It doesn’t have to be a full pilates class, either: regular low-impact exercise (such as walking, swimming, or rowing) gives your joints the chance to move and stretch without risking overexertion. As one of our testers’ physical therapists says, “motion is lotion” for your joints.

Listen to your body

Overexerting yourself during exercise is just as bad — if not worse — than not moving. Repetitive movements over long periods can lead to stress injuries, tearing, and degeneration of the muscles and cartilage, which causes joint pain. When you feel joint pain while working out, listen to your body and rest, prioritizing low-impact exercises instead of high-exertion moves like running.

Keep a healthy weight

Carrying more weight than your frame can reliably support means you’re more likely to experience joint pain. This is because it exerts an excessive force upon your joints, particularly in weight-bearing spots like your knees and hips. Staying at a healthy weight can help ease the pressure, keeping your joints healthier long-term.

Eat a varied diet

Some ingredients commonly found in joint supplements, like turmeric, are easy to work into your daily diet. Eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties, such as tomatoes, olive oil, and leafy greens, can help to soothe inflammation related to joint pain. Getting at least two servings of fish or nuts per week provides a healthy dose of omega-3s. Plus, eating a rich and healthy diet can help your body stay at the right weight without too much extra work.

Stay hydrated

When you’re dehydrated, your body begins to pull water from its reserves, including the synovial fluid that cushions your joints. Not having enough synovial fluid can lead to increased friction between pieces of cartilage as you move, increasing the likelihood of damage and joint pain. Be sure to drink about 15.5 cups of water a day if you’re a man and 11.5 cups a day as a woman.

Get prescription help

Sometimes, there’s no amount of swimming, eating fish, and staying hydrated that you can do to prevent joint pain or arthritis. If you’ve made lifestyle changes, tried joint supplements, and still can’t find relief, reach out to your doctor. They may prescribe anything from painkillers like NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) on a strict schedule, corticosteroids, hyaluronan injections, or an antidepressant.

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service or product we review. Our content provides you, our readers, with an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality and the latest medical evidence and health standards. We ask ourselves two simple questions: Would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job? Would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

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