Mobility is a top priority for consumers—as reflected by the bone and joint health market. “Research commissioned by Lonza found that joint health is one of the top five health concerns for consumers in the U.S., with 36% of respondents reporting that they are concerned about maintaining joint health,” says Juliana Erickson, Senior Marketing Manager, Consumer Health & Nutrition, Lonza. “While our research showed that Baby Boomers and other senior age groups remain a key driver, this growth appears to have also been accelerated by the rising number of active individuals across other demographics—including Millennials—becoming increasingly proactive in managing their joint health longer term.”

Francesca de Rensis, Marketing Director of Indena S.p.A., agrees: “We’re seeing several market developments in the joint and bone health market. One of these is that seniors and Baby Boomers that want to live a healthy and active lifestyle remain interested in joint and bone health products. For these audiences, it’s all about maintaining mobility and independence for as long as possible, so they remain a significant audience for the category. We’re also seeing more Millennials have interest in the joint health category as they understand the importance of health for the long term, and realize that making healthy choices now will impact their health as they get older.”

Millennials may also be interested in bone health products—and for good reason. Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, Senior Nutrition Education Manager at NOW, explains why: “Peak bone density occurs in our 20s, with slight declines following over the next 20 years or so.” In addition to the normal age-related decline in bone health, Levin notes that a variety of factors can make bone health a serious concern for all ages: “A sedentary lifestyle, especially if away from sunlight, could erode calcium reserves in the bones at any age. An acidifying diet, versus a healthy alkalinizing diet, may actually strip calcium from bones in an attempt to raise the pH in the body to maintain appropriate healthy levels. Certain medications and diseases can also impact bone density.” He notes that antacids are a particular risk. These meds, he says, “increase the need for supplementation with pre-acidified forms of minerals and isolated forms of vitamins that are not locked into matrices that first require liberation from the food source (digestion with the aid of stomach acid) to become bioavailable.” Use of steroids and other immune suppressors are also negative factors for bone health, he continues, as are excessive smoking or alcohol consumption.

Additional factors impacting the older generations: “Hormones are also important,” Levin says, “and post-menopause is a key time for bone repair and remodeling to decline, affecting healthy maintenance. Men’s hormones also tend to decline with age, and the important ones for men’s bone health are both estradiol (a form of estrogen) and testosterone. WebMD reports that men catch up to women in the rate of bone loss around age 70.”

Here, we take a look at the ingredients that can help your customers stay active and healthy, no matter what their age.

Joint Health Joint health—and the lack thereof—is often characterized by pain, due to inflammation. Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education at EuroPharma, Inc., makers of the Terry Naturally brand, explains: “Inflammation is a driving factor behind the structural damage to bones and joints in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Two of the key inflammatory enzymes implicated in that damage are cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX).” Many choose to take painkillers, but Myers notes that this is an imperfect solution. “Pain relief with OTC and prescription drugs comes at a steep price. These medicines typically use a heavy approach to stopping inflammatory activity, to the point where the body also loses some of its own natural protective abilities. Unfortunately, these actions also damage the liver and stomach lining, disrupt neural pathways, and because of their dramatic effect, often cause addiction. So while these drugs relieve the sensation of pain, they can contribute to its cause by disrupting a balance of enzyme activity and creating oxidative stress that, in turn, creates more inflammation.”

Another problem with some painkillers: Cyclooxygenase comes in two forms, COX-1 and COX-2, and inhibiting COX-1 is a bad idea. “Its job is to protect the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract lining,” says Steve Holtby, President and CEO of Soft Gel Technologies Inc. (SGTI), “and inhibition of it can lead to GI-related problems.” So an effective painkiller would have to block COX-2 while leaving COX-1 working freely—but Holtby says that these, too, fall far short of ideal. “These have even more dangerous side effects. If inhibitors are overly selective, completely shutting down COX-2, these remedies may suppress production of cardio-protective enzymes, potentially endangering the heart. The link between COX-2 inhibitors and increased risk of heart attack is well established (Vioxx—rofecoxib). COX-2 inhibitors increase the risk of heart attack by raising blood pressure and making the blood more likely to clot. They do so by the same mechanisms that they use to reduce pain and inflammation. The problem was that they were too selective. By completely shutting down COX-2, these drugs are theorized to suppress production of the blood-clotting hormone prostacyclin, and other cardio-protective enzymes, thus increasing cardiovascular events.” The ideal solution, therefore, would inhibit—not block—COX-2 synthesis, while preserving COX-1 synthesis.

One option: Perluxan, a hops extract supplement from SGTI. Some of Perluxan’s usefulness, Holtby says, can be traced back to the alpha acids found in certain hops fractions. “Alpha acids have been described as potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents capable of inhibiting the induction of COX-2,” Holtby says. “Because Humulus lupulus is selective for COX-2 and not COX-1, it doesn’t have the GI problems associated with nonspecific COX inhibitors.” Moreover, it has been demonstrated to modulate specific kinases associated with minor pain. “Kinases function to chemically modify other proteins and help regulate eicosanoids, like COX-2 and PGE2; cytokines, like TNF-a; reactive oxygen species; and other mediators, like NF-kB, that may negatively impact the body both locally and systemically,” Holtby explains. “Research suggests kinase modulation is an attractive approach to target the origins of minor pain.”

Another option for COX-2 inhibition: curcumin, one of the most in-demand ingredients in the natural products industry. That said, there are factors to keep in mind. Levin explains: “In the fresh and dried root, curcumin is soluble and fairly well absorbed. That changes when curcumin is extracted. Oral administration of these highly concentrated curcuminoid extracts to humans, even at high amounts (8 grams), results in no detectable serum curcumin levels. Poor systemic bioavailability of curcumin in this highly concentrated crystalline form is likely due to its poor solubility, instability/tendency to hydrolyze, and rapid metabolism by the liver.”

NOW uses Indena’s branded Meriva Curcumin Phytosome. De Rensis says that “Meriva is supported by strong clinical evidence for joint health and maintaining a healthy inflammatory response during or after intense exercise. Moreover, Meriva was demonstrated to support maintenance of healthy bone density.” Giving Meriva its power: Indena’s proprietary Phytosome delivery system technology, which, de Rensis says, “combines food-grade lecithin with a botanical or natural substance to maintain the original structure and activity of the target components necessary for ingredient effectiveness. Numerous scientific studies have shown that Phytosome delivery system technology offers many benefits that include optimized bioabsorption and effectiveness compared to non-formulated ingredients.”

Levin expands on this explanation: “By embedding curcumin into phospholipids, curcumin is shielded from water-triggered degradation while, at the same time, the rapid exchange of phospholipids between biological membranes and extracellular fluids can shuttle it into the membranes, boosting its cellular capture and efficacy. NOW offers this clinically evaluated bio-enhanced material in our Curcumin Phytosome product.”

Formulators have other considerations, too—namely, application. Applied Food Sciences (AFS) offers two options, depending on need: PurTermeric and CleanStream curcumin. Brian Zapp, Creative Director at AFS, explains: “For beverages, PurTurmeric delivers brilliant golden-orange color and on-trend flavor in an ingredient that is water-soluble and consistent for effortless formulation. For supplements, CleanStream organic curcumin presents a free-flowing microbeadlet technology that allows for a dust-free and stain-free curcumin production experience.” Zapp notes that, while the microbeadlet technology was originally intended for use in supplements, it can also support beverages: “The beadlets prevent the experience of the astringent bitterness of curcumin at that 95% potency. To help suspend it in solution, one beverage used coconut milk for more viscosity. This is a clever way of adding mouthfeel, bright color, and function to food and beverages, all of which are at a premium when it comes to consumer experience.”

Why is curcumin in such high demand? Because science says it works. Myers explains: “Curcumin is typically associated with reducing COX-2 activity, although it works along virtually every inflammatory pathway in the body. The curcumin we feature is clinically studied (BCM-95) and is blended with turmeric essential oil for enhanced absorption and blood retention. The curcumin in Curamin and Curamin Extra Strength is paired with another clinically studied botanical ingredient, a unique Boswellia extract that is standardized to ensure one of the herb’s most beneficial compounds, acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, or AKBA, at a minimum of 10% while purifying the herb to remove most of the beta boswellic acid, which is a proinflammatory compound. Boswellia zeroes in on hard-to-treat 5-LOX inflammation, which is difficult even for prescription drugs to address effectively. Being able to reduce inflammatory activity across the board means that Curamin provides pain relief while simultaneously aiding in tissue repair. So people typically feel a difference right away, but these formulas continue to provide benefits during long-term use. Ideally, both the pain and the cause of pain diminish considerably.”

What's Black Seed Oil?

Black seed oil is a rare ingredient to see in a joint health product—but maybe it shouldn't be. WholeFoods turned to Terry Naturally's Cheryl Miller to find out why: "Black seed oil from Nigella sativa, is a botanical medicine that has a multitude of beneficial effects, like many time-tested herbs," Miller says. "One of the primary compounds in black seed oil is called thymoquinone, and it has been studied for tumor reduction, bacterial resistance, and preserving cognitive health. As for fighting inflammation and joint damage, black seed oil is one of the rare botanicals that also reduces 5-LOX activity. And like boswellia, that makes it well-suited for dealing with digestive, respiratory, and, of course, mobility issues. So black seed oil reduces the sensation of pain, not by blocking pain receptors, but by inhibiting a variety of inflammation pathways.

"A double-blind, eight-week placebo-controlled clinical trial found that black seed oil reduced levels of inflammatory markers (malondialdehyde or ‘MDA’ and nitric oxide or ‘NO’) in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis," Miller continues. "It also boosted levels of an anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10) which led the study researchers to conclude that black seed oil could be an effective natural medicine, and one that could be safely used alongside conventional medications. Our Black Seed Oil supplement is a supercritical CO2 extract, so it delivers a consistent level of beneficial compounds, including thymoquinone in every vegan softgel."
Speaking of Boswellia, there are options here, too. One to look for: AprèsFlex, “a synergistic combination of two proprietary extracts derived from Boswellia serrata gum resin,” according to Steve Fink, VP Marketing, PLT. “It contains 20% AKBA, and was developed based on a first-generation clinically studied Boswellia serrata extract (5-LOXIN) that provided 30% AKBA along with other boswellic acids. The addition of Boswellia non-acidic resin extract to the acidic fraction using a proprietary controlled process led to the creation of AprèsFlex. The oral bioavailability of AKBA from AprèsFlex was found to be significantly higher in comparison with that of other commercially available Boswellia extracts. At AKBA equivalent dose, AprèsFlex delivers 52% more AKBA to the serum compared to conventional Boswellia serrata.”

Other considerations: size of the dose and time to efficacy. Fink says that, as per seven pre-clinical studies and three human clinical trials, “AprèsFlex has demonstrated efficacy starting at five days, at 100mg, a significantly lower dose than other joint health ingredients. A 2014 clinical trial with AprèsFlex showed a nearly 20% improvement in joint comfort over baseline at five days and a 50% improvement in joint comfort at 30 days; a previous, similar study showed a 70% improvement in joint comfort at 90 days. Beyond joint comfort and flexibility improvements, AprèsFlex also positively impacts biological markers associated with joint health and inflammation, including TNFa, CRP, and IL-6. It was also shown to significantly inhibit matrix metalloproteinase, enzymes that break down cartilage, collagen, and connective tissues.”

HP Ingredients (HPI) has another option for shutting down inflammation, this time targeting Nuclear Factor-kB, or NF-kB, via PPAR-gamma, which shuts down NF-kB. ParActin is a patented extraction of Andrographis paniculata. Annie Eng, CEO of HPI, says that “these naturally occurring phytochemicals have been shown by researchers to support healthy joints, bones, and muscles; this is so important to today’s active lifestyle.” Another important factor: scientific backing. “ParActin is braced by more than a dozen studies, including several human clinical trials that show not only efficacy in maintaining healthy bone structure, but also in supporting aging joints that emanate discomfort. Studies also show how ParActin exerts such efficacies. Primarily, it works on several distinct pathways that lead to inflammation.”

Those looking to go straight to the heart of the matter may look to collagen itself as a supplement. One consideration is type—collagen has several. Samantha Ford, MS, Director of Business Development at AIDP breaks it down: “Collagen type I, commonly available from fish sources, is most relevant to skin structure and function; collagen type II, commonly found in avian sources, targets joint and cartilage health. Collagens type I and III are most relevant to bone health, and most often come from bovine sources.” Taste and processing, she says, often separate one product from another, as does application. “AIDP offers collagens across the full spectrum—I to X—from marine, avian, and bovine sources that can suit a variety of formulation needs in supplement and food and beverage applications.”

Lonza also offers type II collagen: UC-II undenatured collagen, which, Erickson says, “is backed by extensive scientific evidence supporting its role in joint health, flexibility, and mobility.” Lonza’s DUOCAP capsule-in-capsule technology, she adds, “can facilitate innovative combination formulas. Not only does this enable consumers to achieve synergistic results from two ingredients in a single capsule, it also provides an opportunity for manufacturers in this space to create unique offerings.”

UC-II can be found in Solgar’s No. 7 Vegetable Capsules, along with vitamin C, Boswellia, curcumin, and several other bioactive joint-health ingredients. Solgar’s website notes that the product has been shown to measurably improve joint comfort within seven days.

Cannabidiol (CBD), too, falls into the joint health category. “We receive anecdotal reports from consumers struggling with common aches, pains, and inflammation that results from normal life and aging,” says Michael D. Lewis, M.D., MPH, MBA, FACPM, FACN, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired), Medical Advisor to CV Sciences. “These consumers report satisfaction with our distilled Gold products, particularly our PlusCBD Oil Extra Strength softgels. These softgels are our most concentrated form of CBD-rich hemp extracts and are intended for people who might need to be taking more CBD; plus, they’re a convenient way to ensure consistent serving sizes.”

As with all supplements, consumers should discuss their options with a healthcare practitioner; however, should that practitioner recommend CBD, Dr. Lewis advises: “We always recommend to start low and go slow. Try the minimum amount for a week to see how it affects your system and to allow for your ECS to achieve balance. Then, begin to slowly raise the serving size until you find the optimal health outcomes you are seeking. Then stop there.” Using both a topical and an ingestible, he adds, will provide relief from both the inside and the outside.

Eggshell membrane is another trending ingredient. “NEM is the original and scientific leader for eggshell membrane, thus starting the global market furor for something new in the joint health market,” say Nena Dockery, Scientific and Regulatory Manager, Stratum Nutrition, and Chris Haynes, Senior Director of Global Sales and Marketing, Stratum. “NEM is the only eggshell membrane backed by a significant number of published research studies. Those studies encompass randomized controlled clinical trials, healthy population trials, in vitro mode-of-action, in vivo studies, and veterinary trials.”

One of recent study on NEM looked at healthy individuals: Dockery and Haynes say the primary endpoint was a change in levels of a particular biomarker of type II collagen metabolism and breakdown, which was significantly reduced with NEM supplementation, “indicating a substantial benefit to joint cartilage integrity.” The study included post-menopausal women, a demographic susceptible to joint challenges, and the women saw “noteworthy” improvements in both pain and stiffness. Dockery and Haynes add that a second study, not yet published, expanded the age and gender parameters to include men and women ages 40-75; the results were the same.

Another to add to the joint health mix: sulfur. “Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the human body,” says Tim Hammond, VP of Sales and Marketing at Bergstrom Nutrition, “and OptiMSM is a proven source of bioavailable sulfur. It supports the structure and flexibility of connective tissue, which includes supporting and maintaining collagen disulfide bonds. Sulfur is a necessary nutrient for the maintenance of joints, tendons, and ligaments—as well as skin, hair, and nails.” For more, check out Sulfur: The Forgotten Nutrient, a white paper from Bergstrom that shines a spotlight on this important mineral.

Sulfur plays a role in another option, as well—Aged Garlic Extract, available from Wakunaga of America as Kyolic. Jay Levy, Director of Sales, says: “Aged Garlic Extract contains compounds that have been found to help protect against osteoarthritis. A 2017 study conducted at the University of Florida found that AGE modifies inflammation in a group of obese individuals. This may help prevent or improve chronic joint issues like osteoarthritis. Earlier studies suggest that certain sulfur compounds in garlic known as diallyl disulphide may suppress the damaging enzymes that are linked with osteoarthritis. Another possible mechanism of action is the high antioxidant content found in garlic, and especially in AGE. This may play a key role in protecting joints, particularly since free radicals have been shown to undermine normal chondrocyte activity and promote cartilage damage.”

Additional benefits may come from combining AGE with curcumin and omega-3s—several studies, Levy says, have found that omega-3s inhibit COX-2 and reduce oxidative stress. “Osteoarthritis can reduce the quality of life for people with this painful and potentially disabling condition. However, these findings suggest that combining AGE with curcumin and omega-3s may provide safe and effective relief for both the pain and stiffness that can undermine an active lifestyle in those with joint issues.”

Bone Health “Bones aren’t static rock-like material as you see in skeletons,” Levin says. “They’re living tissues with a matrix of collagen. As we grow and mature, especially if active and well-nourished, we accumulate bone density. This serves as a reserve later in life as various factors affect bone density, including diet, sunlight, and exercise, or the lack of any of these essentials.” He adds that those lacking these essentials between birth and the teen years may have inhibited bone growth and development.

“Bones need not only calcium, but a balance of different vitamins and minerals to remain strong,” says Audrey Ross, National Educator at Country Life Vitamins. “Ideally, people should look for a supplement that can provide a full range of vitamins and minerals that work to support bone health.” However, that doesn’t mean calcium isn’t important—and it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing there to learn. “When selecting a bone health supplement,” Ross continues, “the first step is selecting the right form of calcium. Calcium phosphate—aka hydroxyapatite—is the predominant form of calcium in the bone. A supplement such as Country Life’s Calcium Magnesium Complex contains the right balance of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium to support bone health.”

Something else to consider: “Calcium is needed by the body for skeleton building, muscle contraction, nerve signaling, and other metabolic processes,” says AIDP’s Ford. “However, excess calcium can accumulate in blood vessels and other soft tissues. K2VITAL is an ideal solution to this paradox; it directs calcium to the right place, to the bones, supporting bone strength and circulatory health.”

Calcium, as Ross noted, isn’t enough on its own. A good choice for accompaniment: vitamin K2—not K1, stresses Kate Quackenbush, Communications Director with NattoPharma. “K vitamins are actually a family of vitamins made up of vitamin K1, phylloquinone, and vitamin K2, menaquinone,” she explains. “Think of K1 and K2 as fraternal twins. They share similarities, such as working in the liver for blood clotting, and chemically, they share a quinone ring called menadione. But that is where their similarities end. Vitamin K2 has several molecules, called menaquinones, which makes it available beyond the liver for other systems, such as the bones and the vasculature. Vitamin K2 supports bone and cardiovascular health by activating K-dependent proteins osteocalcin, which binds calcium to the bone mineral matrix, and matrix Gla protein (MGP), which inhibits calcium from depositing in arteries and soft tissues. Put simply: Vitamin K2 can do what K1 cannot.”

That isn’t the only factor to consider with vitamin K: “Adding to the K confusion: There are actually multiple forms of K2,” Quackenbush says. “The two most common forms as dietary supplements are K2 as menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and K2 as MK-7 (menaquinone-7). Due to its side chain, MK-7 has a much longer half-life in the body than MK-4, allowing it greater access to tissues beyond the liver. Further, the serum half-life of MK-4 has been shown to be just a few hours compared to a 3+ day half-life for MK-7. So, although they have the same molecular mechanism of action, MK-7 is more bioavailable than MK-4. And due to MK-4’s short half-life and poor bioavailability, it requires multiple doses per day at milligram levels—versus MK-7’s microgram levels—for measurable efficacy.”

This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t take other forms of vitamin K; it’s just that MK-7 is the most efficacious for bone health. Quackenbush notes that Nattopharma offers a Full Spectrum K2, which, in addition to MK-7, also delivers MK-6 and MK-9, “for optimal and maximal delivery of vitamin K2 with respect to absorption, half-life, and biological activity.” Why these isomers? Quackenbush says they “most closely mirror the K2 delivered in the most popular K2 food source in the West: cheese.”

Growing Children

“A lack of nutrients—including vitamin D from sunlight, fortified foods, fish, or supplements—could inhibit normal bone growth and development,” NOW’s Neil Levin says.

Parents looking to supplement their child’s diet may look to ChildLife Nutrition—their liquid Multi Vitamin and Mineral supplement provides the essentials, and their Vitamin D3 drops can be an additional help. For more on ChildLife’s offerings, see their product profile.
Another bone-strengthening option: MCH, or microcrystalline hydroxyapatite. Levin says “MCH complexes refer to whole-bone concentrates from natural sources, typically bovine, that contain naturally occurring calcium, as well as a variety of other bone-supporting minerals naturally found in bone tissue, such as magnesium and phosphorous. MCH also has specialized nutrients such as osteocalcin (a calcium-binding protein), collagen, and various growth factors such as IGF-I and IGF-II.” As a form of calcium, Levin adds, it has “shown better bioavailability and absorption in numerous studies” than other forms of calcium. It’s notated on labels as MCH or MCHA, or as microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate or complex, MCHC. “It’s a whole bone matrix—including the protein (collagen), minerals, and other components of living bone tissue—and so contains far more cofactors needed to build the same kind of matrix in our own bodies than any combination mineral formula would.” NOW offers Calcium Hydroxyapatite Caps, a stand-alone MCH product, and Bone Strength, a comprehensive bone support product containing MCHA.

Those looking for a vegan option may want to consider silica. “Silica is a mineral that is truly underrated when it comes to building and maintaining health bones—and skin and hair, too,” says Myers. “It helps build up the matrix of bones and joints while helping other minerals absorb properly. In fact, silica brings more calcium into the bones, so less calcium leaches away from the bones. To prevent a deficiency, most people need at least 10 to 25 milligrams of silica daily. To actually build health bones, that level jumps to about 30 to 40 milligrams daily. But most food sources aren’t going to get you close to that. In the diet, the best food sources of silica are from unrefined food, including the fiber of grains and the skins of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, much of that is milled or peeled away before the food is consumed. Plus, the sheer amount of food you’d need to eat to get a significant amount of silica is a bit out of reach. For example, even though bananas contain a significant amount of silica, less than two percent of it is absorbed. Even eating 50 bananas provides only about eight milligrams of absorbed silica. So supplementation is definitely important.”

Myers notes a case study showing the importance of silica: “A 72-year-old woman who suffered from knee pain was found to have below-normal calcium levels, and above-normal phosphate levels, indicating osteoclast activity that broke down bone minerals faster than they could be built up. Although she had been taking calcium and pain relievers, her symptoms didn’t improve. Her doctor recommended the same botanical-sourced silica from Equisetum arvense that we feature in our Silica-20 supplement. After one month, she could walk for one kilometer. After two months, she could walk without stopping for a break and her pain was gone.”

The botanical silica is sourced from, according to Myers, is horsetail, otherwise known as Equisetum arvense. The stem is about 80% silica. “Silica-20 is uniquely extracted,” Myers explains, “so the silica from the plant retains its bioflavonoids that support its activity—something that you won’t find in synthesized versions of the mineral. This gentle process, accomplished without chemicals or solvents, also screens out all harsh, abrasive, insoluble, and potentially harmful substances. Going a step further and blending this botanical silica with marine oil enhances absorption and makes it virtually 100 percent bioavailable for the body. Altogether, this helps boost collagen formation between the joints, calcium absorption into the bones, and can elevate calcium retention up to 50 percent.”

Speaking of collagen, there are plenty of options for bone health. One from AIDP: KoAct, “a patented combination of collagen and calcium that is clinically proven superior to traditional bone health ingredients in improving bone mineral density,” Ford says. “KoAct is ideal for baby boomer women who pursue active lifestyles or those concerned with bone health. KoAct’s patented composition drives collagen to the bone matrix, providing a stronger, more flexible bone.”

CBD can play a role in bone health, too. Dr. Lewis explains: “In the last 15 years, scientists discovered the depths of the relationship between our skeletal system and our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Bones are a very dynamic tissue. Their homeostasis is maintained by a balance between osteoclasts (that break down old bone tissue) and osteoblasts (that synthesize and deposit new bone tissue). Bones and the joints connecting them are constantly being remodeled by the body in a process of maintenance and repair. The average person replaces about 10% of their bones every year. The endocannabinoid system is a major regulator for these processes.”

No peer-reviewed research on CBD and bone health has ever been performed in humans, Dr. Lewis notes, and of course CBD is not a replacement for advice from a healthcare practitioner. However, he adds, “several preclinical studies in animal models suggest CBD may play an important role in bone homeostasis, but more research needs to be done. We do know that CBD helps to balance several organ systems, and are optimistic about the future of research in this area.”

For another method of increasing production of osteoblasts, we’ll return to sulfur. Hammond says OptiMSM’s broad utility also includes the support of healthy bones. “MSM enhances the production of specific bone-building cells called osteoblasts and increases mineralization, which supports stronger bones. Additional work has shown the combination of MSM and a protein used to treat people with bone loss (BMP-2) worked synergistically to increase mineralization and production of bone-building cells.”

How Much?

It’s all well and good to know what nutrients are necessary for bone health—but how much should people be getting? Citing a 2006 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, NOW’s Neil Levin says:

“The bare essential nutrients for bone health formulas are calcium, magnesium, and vitamins D and K. However, most of the nutrients in a multivitamin are also needed for bone health, plus adequate protein.” Functional doses of nutrients for bones include:
  • Protein: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight
  • Calcium: Over 1 gram per day
  • Magnesium: 310 – 420 mg per day
  • Zinc: 15 mg per day
  • Copper: 2.5 to 3 mg per day
  • Boron: 3 mg per day
  • Manganese: 5 mg per day
  • Potassium: 3,500 to 4,000 mg per day
  • Vitamin D: over 500 IU daily
  • Vitamin K: Levels are not well understood; at least 90 mcg/d for women and 120 mcg/d for men
  • Vitamin C: over 500 mg daily
  • Vitamin A: 2,333 IU in women and 3,000 IU in men; avoid low and excessive amounts
Sustainability, Quality Control, and Sourcing This segment is full of trending ingredients, and adulteration should be a top concern. AFS’s Brian Zapp says: “Adulteration is always something to pay attention to, but the caution should be magnified when it comes to products that have seen such an explosion in demand, and products with really high potency.” Curcumin, specifically, faces a problem: “The high potency and powdered form renders identification to species by macroscopic visual inspection impossible and, according to the American Botanical Council, makes it more susceptible to mixing with extraneous, lower-cost botanical ingredients, starches, chalk powder, cassava, and synthetic dyes.” AFS has developed a multistep approach incorporating USP14 and AOAC15 validated methods for specific compound identification, along with isotope testing to ensure the absence of synthetic substances.

Besides verifying species, Zapp says, quality control is desperately important. “Another, often underrated concern with turmeric and other roots or rhizomes is the added risk of microbial contamination and pathogens. There was even a case of hepatitis contamination in a popular turmeric-based supplement that led to several recalls in Europe. I know it goes without saying, but trust and transparency are essential to the future success of turmeric and curcumin-based products. Before adding turmeric to a food, beverage, or supplement, consider the source and ask your supplier for a certificate of analysis to ensure that there are no microbial contaminants. Also ask for a third-party assay stating the validation methods to ensure that your ingredient truly is what you signed on for.”

Bergstrom, too, takes quality control seriously. Tim Hammond says that Bergstrom uses a proprietary multi-stage distillation process, “so we can also say that it is the purest. Our process removes impurities by utilizing unique boiling points to isolate the MSM molecules. The result delivers extremely high purity every time. Distillation also creates a product with very low moisture content, reducing the risk of microbial contamination and product degradation. OptiMSM is supported by safety data and published clinical research, earning a reputation as the purest, safest, most consistent quality MSM in the world. It is made exclusively in the USA and manufactured in a dedicated cGMP-compliant, ISO-registered facility to help provide essential traceability.”

Additionally, sustainability is vital, and the companies interviewed for this article have made it a top priority. Steve Fink notes that PLT partners with Laila Nutra, which insists on certain standards: “Laila does not work with plants in the ‘threatened category’ and practices sustainable harvesting. Education through the forest department ensures sustainable tapping of Boswellia resin. Tribal collectors are trained on sustainable gum tapping methodology for maximizing yield while maintaining safety and health of the Boswellia serrata tree populations. Collectors are also trained on post-harvest handling techniques. Laila and PLT are committed to the safety and fair treatment of the people who harvest AprèsFlex resins.”

Another leader in sustainability is HP Ingredients. Annie Eng breaks down the process that ensures that their Andrographis paniculata is sustainably harvested: “Arable land identified suitable for this herb is prepared to maintain and conform to the requirements of certified organic cultivation. Since the organic cultivation and harvest will not use any pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, the cultivation is designed with efficient crop rotation and soil preparation to preserve soil integrity and fertility. Andrographis is a robust crop that allows it to be co-cultivated with other plants, thereby enriching the growth of each other synergistically.” WF