5% Nutrition strives on following the death of Rich Piana in 2017. The brand has begun to broaden the audience it targets, as it previously appealed more toward the “hardcore” fans of the industry. In 2020, they have already made some updates to previous products so it will be interesting to wait and see what kind of noise they can make throughout the rest of the year.
We all know that as you get older, your joints begin giving problems. Most of the time we think it is just due to “wear and tear” that is inevitable as a lifetime fitness enthusiast. But, what if we told you it is usually due to the slow loss of collagen and joint lubrication? And better yet, it could possibly be fixed or even reversed?
Proper care throughout your younger training years might be able to slow the loss of these essential joint compounds. One of the components of “proper care” is supplementation with a solid joint health product. A product like Joint Defender may be exactly what you need; let’s take a look at this formula.
D-Glucosamine Sulfate Potassium – 1,500mg
Glucosamine is a supplement that is derived from shellfish and marketed as a joint health ingredient. Glucosamine is thought to be able to slow down joint degradation through increasing cartilage metabolism (collagen synthesis).
The frequency and intensity of a load on a joint are the main determinants of the severity of damage that is induced on articular cartilage. Avid weightlifters and fitness enthusiasts continually inflict load bearing damage on their cartilage. Over time, this micro damage leads to chronic pain and possibly even injury. Finding ways to prevent continual breakdown and damage of the articular cartilage should be a concern for everyone.
One 2013 study shows that in a group of bicycle racers, glucosamine supplementation was able to prevent/slow joint degradation. This study noted that with supplementation of 3g glucosamine, elevated biomarkers of collagen type II degradation were substantially reduced. From this study, we see evidence of prevented degradation, however the researchers explicitly mention glucosamine failed to increase biomarkers of collagen synthesis.
Most research supports the dosage glucosamine be at least 900mg. Many trials and clinical studies demonstrate that the benefits we get from this ingredient are highly dose dependent. We are getting 1500mg here with Joint Defender.
MethylSulfonylmethane (MSM) – 1,000mg
This ingredient is an organic compound that is found in many plants, animals and humans. Many people use it as a source of pain relief, even though literature doesn’t fully support its use. The primary use of this ingredient in the clinical realm is to treat osteoarthritis patients. It has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory treatment.
We see this ingredient often times used alongside glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis, which is a chronic disease. However, supplementation can reduce biomarkers that indicate joint degradation and swelling, just like glucosamine. Another benefit is that MSM has been shown to improve joint mobility (although the individuals have osteoarthritis). This publication noted that the participants experienced significant increases in joint mobility after supplementing with 6 grams of MSM daily for 26 weeks. This is a very high dose, and also a long trial period.
Almost all of the literature we see uses aggressive doses of MSM. Many trials use it in the 6 grams range. We don’t find any Joint health formulas in the supplement industry that include MSM at such a high dose. Strong formulas will use this ingredient at 1,000mg or more. We are getting 1,000mg here.
Collagen Type II 65% (KollaGen II-xs™) – 1000mg
Type II Collagen (CII) is a peptide that in this case, is extracted from the sternum cartilage of chickens. Direct supplementation of CII is thought to lessen joint inflammation by reducing the bodies autoimmunity to its own CII. 5% nutrition is giving us a patented form of CII.
Type II Collagen is the main collagen that is found within the cartilage. It has been found that direct supplementation with KollaGen II-xs™ at dosages between 375-500mg twice daily can reduce joint inflammation and improve secondary joint mobility. This study found that there was a significantly large reduction in pain during the 30 days of the trial. The inflammation response was measured by pH levels in the saliva. This may not be the most reliable source of inflammation reduction.
KollaGen II-xs™ has been shown to provide the best benefits at doses of 500mg twice daily. Joint Defender gives us 1,000mg per day so we are good here.
Chondroitin Sulfate – 500mg
Chondroitin is a chemical that is found primarily in joint cartilage throughout the body. It is similar in mechanism to glucosamine, as the two are typically paired together for osteoarthritis treatment. Chondroitin is thought to have improvements upon joint pain, stiffness and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.
There is not an overwhelming amount of reliable literature that supports the use of chondroitin as a joint supplement. Many of the studies that shown benefit have smaller amounts of participants and are highly subject to statistical chance or poor experimental design. Many of the larger studies, which are more reliable, seem to push towards the fact that chondroitin supplementation has little to no effect on joint health or recovery, especially acutely. However, many people claim this ingredient helped their symptoms, therefore much of its use is fueled by anecdotal support.
One recent meta-analysis (2019) compiled and analyzed data from the previous 2 or 3-years regarding chondroitin supplementation and its effects on patients with knee osteoarthritis. They were able to look at 6 different studies that contained a total of 1,502 participants. The chondroitin supplementation lasted on average a length of 3 years. The researchers concluded that with 3 years of continual supplementation, chondroitin was able to provide a small, but statistically significant effect on joint health. These effects were observed over an unusually long period of supplementation (3 years), which does not highlight any acute benefits a user will receive in the short term.
We see chondroitin supplementation begin around the 800mg range. This is the lowest amount we typically see throughout literature that has shown any benefit to the user. We are getting 500mg here.
L-Proline – 300mg
Proline is a non-essential amino acid that is synthesized from glutamic acid. It is naturally occurring in the body. Proline is an essential component of collagen and is important for proper functioning of the joints and tendons. Proline actually makes up around 15% of collagen, which is the essential building block of tendons, bones, connective tissue and skin.
The idea behind proline supplementation is to improve collagen production. Collagen acts as a cartilage healer, so the more we have available the more damage we can reverse. High levels of proline in the body, result in an increase of collagen levels. However, there is no study determining if oral supplementation of proline can effectively increase collagen synthesis. Scientists have been able to conclude that high concentrations of proline, lead to more collagen cell production but more research is needed to determine if these results can be achieved through oral supplementation.
Proline supplementation lacks the necessary research it needs for a clinical dosage to be established. We are getting 300mg here with Joint Defender.
L-Lysine – 200mg
Lysine is another amino acid that helps makeup collagen. This amino acid is actually considered essential, as the body cannot produce it but it does need it. Lysine plays many roles in the body, but here we are interested in the role it plays in collagen production.
The idea of using lysine here is the same as using proline. Both of these amino acids are vital components of collagen, and when their concentrations are elevated can cause an increase in the amount of collagen produced by the body.
Just like proline, evidence is lacking that shows an increase in collagen production through oral supplementation of these amino acids. These amino acids must be present for collagen to be formed. While research shows that when found in high concentrations these acids can lead to an increase in collagen production, it lacks the ability to determine whether oral supplementation will effectively lead to the high concentrated environment that is needed.
We do not have a clinical standard of dosing of lysine to produce the desired effects on collagen and joint health. More research is needed, but we are getting 200mg here.
Hyaluronic Acid – 125mg
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in our skin and joints. Its primary function is to hold water and increase lubrication and hydration. There has also been evidence of its ability to promote growth of cartilage and bone, and also work to reduce inflammation.
As we get older, the amount of HA in our skin and joints decreases, therefore decreasing the amount of lubrication and hydration that was present during our younger years. Often times, HA injections are administered as a method of treatment in osteoarthritis patients and for victims of frozen shoulder.
There is a general consensus in the medical field that HA via injection into the joint provides some benefit and relief, but studies regarding supplementation via oral route are very few. One study from 2008 analyzed the effects of oral supplementation of HA in twenty patients who presented with knee osteoarthritis symptoms for greater than 6 months. The experimental group was given 80mg daily for 8 weeks. At the conclusion of the trial, the experimental group experiences significance increases in the WOMAC physical function scale. This study demonstrates hope that oral supplementation of HA could provide some benefit and relief, however the study was rather small with only 10 subjects receiving HA.
The average HA supplement on the market is between 100-200mg per serving. The few studies regarding oral supplementation of HA range between 60-200mg daily. Joint Defender offers 125mg per day.
Cat’s Claw Powder (Uncaria tomentosa) – 50mg
Cat’s claw powder does not actually come from cats. It comes from a tropical vine that is named for its hooked thorns that closely resemble the claws of a cat. This ingredient has vast uses throughout the history of traditional medicine. We are interested in the claims regarding arthritis improvement and joint health.
Many doctors and researchers believe the benefits of cat’s claw comes from its anti-inflammatory properties, resulting in a reduction of pain and stiffness for the user. More research is needed to reliably administer cat’s claw as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
One study shows that 45 osteoarthritis patients supplemented with 100mg of cat’s claw for 4 weeks and experienced a reduce in pain during physical activity. There was not a significant change in knee swelling or resting pain.
Another trial regarding cat’s claw administered the extract at 100mg daily to patients with osteoarthritis. Initially, the study shows improvement in both joint pain and function. However, these benefits were not sustained over the full 8-week trial period.
Many studies regarding joint health are used at dosages around 100mg. We are getting 50mg here with Joint Defender.
Turmeric (95% Curcuminoids) – 25mg
Turmeric is a root that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and has been known for a vast variety of different uses. Turmeric extract contains a bioactive compound known as curcumin, which is what is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and pain benefits this ingredient may provide.
Curcumin inhibits enzymes that produce inflammatory compounds, while also increasing levels of endogenous antioxidants. Research shows the ability of curcumin to provide some pain relief in osteoarthritis patients while also improving joint function in some cases.
An interesting study from 2019 puts curcumin to the test against a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac. Researchers had a population size of 139 osteoarthritis patients who were randomly assigned either 1500mg of curcumin or 100mg of diclofenac daily. At the conclusion of the 4-week trial, it was found that curcumin supplementation offered similar efficacy compared to its pharmaceutical opponent. However, the curcumin group tolerated the supplementation much better and had little to no side effects. Several individuals of the diclofenac group experienced mild side effects, including 28% requiring another drug to combat them. This is a very large dose of curcumin that is not typical of joint health formulas, but this study firmly supports the large dose.
It is important to note that piperine extract should always be used alongside Turmeric because curcumin has a poor absorption rate by itself. Joint Defender uses BioPerine®, which will be discussed shortly.
Research suggests turmeric extract be taken at around 500mg doses or higher alongside piperine to assist with the absorption of curcumin. Joint Defender is giving us nowhere near that. We are getting a seemingly pointless dose of 25mg.
BioPerine® (95% piperine) – 5mg
BioPerine® is a patented version of black pepper extract that is used to improve the uptake and usage of other ingredients and chemicals that are consumed alongside it.
As mentioned before, turmeric (curcumin) is almost always consumed alongside of piperine since it essentially requires piperine in order to be absorbed by the body.
We are getting 5mg of BioPerine® here with Joint Defender which is a good dose.
5% Nutrition has brought yet another fully-transparent supplement to their health and support line. Joint Defender is a product that offers some benefit for joint health at a very reasonable price point. As you get older, the amount of collagen and lubrication deteriorates in your joints. A product like this might provide you with the relief you need to keep your training consistent and pain free.
We are getting pretty good dosages of the majority of the ingredients in this formula. We would love to see an improvement in the Turmeric dose, as this ingredient has a wealth of research supporting its benefits on joint health and inflammation. Overall, this product is a worthy spend of your money if you are in the market for a solid joint health supplement.
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