From the desk of Dr. Jon Herting DPT, CSCS, ACSM EP, USAW
Fish oil, curcumin and collagen have been getting a lot of press lately due to their effect on promoting overall joint health and reducing inflammation. For those who live an active lifestyle, it is not uncommon to experience some nagging joint pain here and there. The use of these supplements may help you maintain joint health while decreasing the daily aches and pains you feel from leading an active lifestyle. It is important to understand that these are supplements, and should be used as such. We can’t run our bodies into the ground and simply use these as a bandaid. It is important that first and foremost we take care of the big rocks like moving on a daily basis, sleeping an adequate amount, exercising frequently, getting outdoors, challenging our minds, spending time with those who are important to us, and having fun!
With those principles in mind, let’s take a deeper look at each of these supplements.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and can be found in everything ranging from bone, to skin, to muscles, to tendons and ligaments. Seems pretty important, right? One of the most popular uses for collagen supplementation is for bone health. As we age, our bones become less dense, in part due to decreased collagen content, which can lead to an increased risk of fractures. Not good. The use of collagen supplements can help keep our bones healthy as we age. Another added benefit? Taking collagen can improve skin health and reduce wrinkles during aging as well.
Curcumin, found in the spice Tumeric, may be helpful in reducing muscle pain and soreness after a tough workout, therefore helping with recovery for your next session. This could be a useful supplement for people who live an active lifestyle and love to get after it in the gym, on the court or field, in the pool, on the track, or on the road. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and has been used to help treat arthritis and metabolic syndrome.
Lastly, let’s take a look at fish oil. In addition to its known anti-inflammatory effects, it has other benefits that are arguably more important. First off, fish oil may support heart health and lower blood pressure, both of which are essential for long term health and wellness. As we age, fish oil can be useful in keeping our minds sharp, our bones healthy (like collagen), and our vision strong.
As a whole, it appears that there are some pretty significant benefits to using fish oil, curcumin, and collagen, whether it be promoting recovery, bone and joint health, or heart health, in addition to others. However, it’s important to understand that the use of these supplements is relatively novel, and more research needs to be done to create more concrete evidence. If you are considering taking one of these supplements, it may be useful to have a discussion with your doctor to hear their thoughts and their recommendation on specific brands.
Lastly, we need to always remember to see the forest through the trees. In other words, while these supplements can be useful, we need to prioritize taking care of nutrition, sleep, and other lifestyle habits before all else.