Down to the bone

th an ageing population bone and joint conditions are an unwelcome fact of life for growing numbers of people. Jane Wolfe says health stores are often – rightly – a first port of call for those seeking help

Bone and joint conditions are becoming a growing problem in the UK, not least because people are living longer – about ten million people in the UK are over 65 – and experiencing the accompanying increase in wear and tear ailments and the natural deterioration of bones and joints. Almost three million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis, and according to the National Osteoporosis Society, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone, primarily due to poor bone health. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the loss of calcium and other minerals, plus a decrease in bone density, causes the bones to become porous, resulting in an increased likelihood of fracture – hip fractures cost the NHS and Government over £2.3 billion (£6 million a day) in 2011. It is vital that bone deterioration be detected at an early stage, according to Marcus Webb, osteopath and naturopath at Hadley Wood Healthcare, who says that simple lifestyle advice and specific supplements can make an enormous difference: “I am convinced that these can stop the slippery slide into osteoporosis.” Although a deficiency of calcium in the diet is unlikely in the UK, malabsorption is common as calcium is particularly hard for the body to absorb, and bone loss does increase naturally as part of the ageing process after the age of around 35. However, this becomes more rapid in women for several years following the menopause, when there is a deficiency of oestrogen. An endocrine imbalance can have a detrimental effect on calcium levels within the bones. “A wobbly thyroid or parathyroid can affect the amount of calcium in the blood and bone,” explains Alison Cullen, education manager at Bioforce. “Calcitonin, excreted by the thyroid gland, increases the rate of calcium absorption into the bone. Parathyroid hormone (para-thormone) encourages osteoclasts to break down bone and increase serum calcium levels. Oestrogen deficiency may make osteoclasts more sensitive to ­increasing bone breakdown.”

Preventative measures

“On a preventative level with regard to bone density in older women going through menopause, you’d be looking at vitamin D3, a small amount of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K2,” says Ursula Gothard, nutritionist at On the Eighth Day Cooperative. Vitamin K2 is extremely important for bone health as it helps move calcium to the bones and activates a protein hormone called ostecaclin which helps bind calcium into the matrix of the bone. Marilyn Tasker from Natures Corner also recommends the trace element boron for the promotion of bone health, and this is frequently being used in bone formulas: “This is a key mineral to keep calcium in the bones and prevent leakage,” she explains. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health as it is necessary for calcium absorption; however deficiency in this vitamin is rife in the UK due to the lack of sunshine and the fact that, apart from oily fish and eggs, it is generally lacking in food. “You can’t absorb calcium if you don’t have vitamin D, and generally people in the northern hemisphere are deficient. There’s definitely more awareness about vitamin D and bone density, and people are prepared to invest a bit more because it’s a defence,” says Gothard, who now offers vitamin D blood spot tests in store. Magnesium is also essential for calcium absorption and aids the conversion of vitamin D to its most active form. It also helps to balance the production of calcitonin and parathormone, both of which increase bone deterioration. Cullen comments: “Everyone’s chock full of calcium that they can’t absorb because their magnesium levels are too low. This is both because of poor diet and the impact of stress – stress just drains magnesium out of the body! The adrenal glands just soak it up.” “Magnesium is something lots of people are deficient in,” agrees Becky Sherwood from Greenlife in Totnes. “We try to encourage people to look at the co-factors for calcium and stress the importance of magnesium, vitamins D3 and K, which are often deficient in people with osteoporosis.” As well as being available in tablets, magnesium comes in liquid, such as Salus Haus Floradix, which may be more easily absorbed for those with poor digestion, and the BetterYou trans-dermal range including Magnesium Oil Original Spray which delivers the mineral directly in-to the skin tissue.

“It’s vital that bone deterioration is detected at an early stage. Simple lifestyle advice and specific supplements can make an enormous difference. I’m convinced that these can stop the slippery slide into osteoporosis” Marcus Webb

Find the formula

There are an increasing variety of bone health formulas coming on to the market. Viridian’s Bone Health Complex contains calcium, magnesium, vitamins C, D2 and K, malic acid, and boron, and Nature’s Plus Age Loss Bone Support Extended Release Tablets includes calcium, vitamins D3 and K2, magnesium, boron and chromium, and claims to be the first bone anti-aging supplement focused on replenishing anabolic bone rejuvenation. Another combination product is Calci-D-min, a Vegetarian Society-approved product formulated by Marcus Webb. “For a long time I’ve been frustrated with the selection of bone health products available. On first inspection many products look fairly good but when you examine the ingredients in detail you discover that the levels of vitamin D3 are a bit on the low side or the calcium is in the poorly absorbable carbonate form. In an attempt to tick all the boxes I formulated a product called Calci-D-min.” The product contains a plant-derived calcium and magnesium ingredient in a base of naturally occurring trace elements, with both vitamins K1 and K2, and vitamin D3 at 1000iu. It delivers 16 key bone nutrients.

Case the joint

Arthritis affects about one in five people in the UK, with an estimated 70% of all 70-year-olds suffering from the condition. However, it can affect people of all ages, with around 12,000 children and 27,000 people under 25 suffering from it. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease and by far the most common form. The condition usually starts in one or sometimes two joints, causing pain, tenderness, stiffness and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is an autoimmune illness which typically causes pain in a number of joints simultaneously; usually the smaller joints such as those in the hands and feet tend to be affected first.

Natural NSAIDs

The fact that people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are becoming increasingly attracted to complementary medicines – with a reported 60% trying a variety of natural products to treat their conditions – bodes well for the sector. Sherwood says: “People are generally not happy taking prescription medication long-term and are seeking natural alternatives. We even have some people who have been sent in by their doctors to try things like glucosamine, as their GPs would rather not prescribe too many NSAIDs and ibuprofen-type drugs.” Just as well then that there is an abundance of natural alternatives on offer. “I use Devil’s Claw internally for anti-inflammatory pain relief, and arnica gel externally for swift relief to specific areas,” says Cullen. “I also use nettle tincture (urtica) for rheumatoid arthritis or a gouty type of arthritis, along with plenty of magnesium. Glucosamine sulphate is important when it’s a question of wear and tear arthritis.” Other natural anti-inflammatories include essential fatty acids (EFAs) – found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, hemp oil and flax seed oil, for example – SAMe which also stimu-lates the production of collagen and proteoglycans – the major building blocks of cartilage – and pine bark extract which, rich in bioflavonoids, can reduce the production of specific en-zymes responsible for breaking down cartilage. Yucca is a rich source of anti- inflammatory polyphenolics and steroidal saponins – which suppress the intestinal protozoa thought to have a role in joint inflammation. Rosehip ex-tract, containing anthocyanins and polyphenols, is useful in preventing joint damage. The benefits of glucosamine for joint health are widely known and there are now vegetarian versions available including those from Higher Nature and Nature’s Best, suitable for those with shell fish allergy. Chondroitin is a major component of healthy cartilage, helping to build, repair, and cushion, and as a supplement it’s often combined with glucosamine as it’s thought that the two work synergistically. Celadrin, a blend of essential fatty acids, is again often combined with glucosamine to help it act faster and more efficiently. Methylsulphonylmethane (MSM) is another increasingly popular choice for joint health. The naturally occurring organic sulphur compound can strengthen collagen and provide pain re-lief. MSM is available on its own, as with OptiMSM, or, increasingly, in formulas such as HealthAid’s Atrotone Tablets which also incorporates green lipped muscle, collagen, glu-cosamine and chondroitin. Another supplement which is making some noise is natural eggshell membrane (NEM) which is rich in substances such as glycosaminoglycans, including chondroitin sulphate, collagen, hyaluronic acid, calcium and glucosamine.

“We see a lot of people with joint stresses brought on by exercise. They present us with stiff joints and want something to support them after they’ve been on a run or had any activity” Marilyn Tasker

Webb has seen some good results with this: “I was intrigued by data published in the US that showed an improvement in joint pain after just seven days. It sounded too good to be true but I obtained a trial supply and offered it to some patients who’d been resistant to other products. Interestingly, a good proportion reported some ease in their pain on the recommended intake of one 500mg capsule per day.” Turmeric is another good option for arthritic conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Bromelain, an enzyme available in the juice and stem of pineapple, fights the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and has the added benefit of enhancing the bioavailability curcumin, the principal curcuminoid in turmeric. Boswellia, a plant extract used in Ayurvedic medicine, can improve pain and stiffness by halting the production of hormone-like substances in the body which trigger joint inflammation, and is also being combined with turmeric. Terranova’s Joint Support supplement blends turmeric and boswellia with nettle, celery and ginger, and Pukka’s Turmeric and Boswellia also includes ashwagandha, Indian sarsaparilla, ginger and black pepper. Viridians Joint Complex again contains boswellia and turmeric, along with Ester-C, l-proline, quercetin, bromelain, ginger root and manganese. Another product containing turmeric is Solgar Seven, which Marilyn Tasker recommends. “We are promoting it as the next generation after glucosamine as it is helpful for increased flexibility and mobility,” she says. The product has seven ingredients – Ester-C, boswellia, turmeric, white willow bark, ginger root, UC-II and pepper spice complex. Capsaicin is also effective for reducing pain and joint tenderness. Studies have found that it can reduce the neuropeptide substance P, which helps transmit pain signals to the brain and is involved in activating inflammatory substances in the joints. Collagen, which is rich in amino acids that help build joint cartilage, is also helpful with inflammation. Type II collagen is one of the main proteins in cartilage, and taking collagen hydrolysate may stimulate the body’s production of joint collagen.

Exercise Caution

Sports injury to a joint can also trigger osteoarthritis, sometimes years after the actual incident, and although exercise is paramount to good health, overdoing it can cause real problems. “Exercise is great for reducing osteoporosis risk,” says Alison Cullen, “however, it can also be a factor in promoting wear and tear problems. Overweight is an issue in joint pain though, so we’re aiming for enough exercise to avoid overweight, but not so much that joints are put under stress!” Marilyn Tasker sees a lot of people come into the store with joint stresses brought on by exercise. “They present with stiff joints and want something to support them after they’ve been on a run or had any activity,” she explains. NaturesAid Osteovit Tablets are formulated to build strong bones for athletes as well as aiding general bone health. And a topical option is Vogel’s Atrogel Arnica gel for muscle aches and pains and sporting injuries such as sprains and strains. In trials in Switzerland during 2003-2004, Atrogel was found to be more effective than topical Ibuprofen.

Ayurvedic answers

David Masterton, General Manager of Maharishi Ayurveda Products Ltd, talks us through an Ayurvedic approach to bone and joint health: “Bones, and joints, are associated in Ayurveda with the mind/body element (‘dosha’) called Vata, which governs all types of movement – including the movement of breath, movement of circulation and movement of the joints. Vata is said to have specific qualities, being cold and dry, and seasons where this type of weather is common (winter) will tend to unbalance Vata. Vata-related problems, including joint problems, are often worse in winter, and also in older age – 60+ is classified in Ayurveda as a Vata-dominated phase of life. So a basic Ayurvedic approach to assisting with the health of joints is to balance Vata dosha. Ayurveda has comprehensive but simple lifestyle and dietary guidelines to do this. A steady daily routine, without skipping meals, for example, can make a big difference; being over-busy, with irregular meals, can destablise Vata, and eventually lead to joint pain. In addition, there are many herbal preparations designed maintain the balance of vata dosha by pacifying Vata. Maharishi Ayurveda Products has formulations ranging from Vata-specific soaps shampoos, & teas, to aroma oils and herbal combinations designed to assist in falling asleep at night (sleep being one of the first casualties of out-of-balance Vata).”

Reduce the Acid

Diet is an important factor in creating and maintaining both healthy bones and joints. An acid-forming diet – with too much caffeine, phosphoric acid-based fizzy drinks, alcohol, red meat, sugar, processed foods and a lack of fresh fruit and veg – promotes bone and joint issues. Ursula Gothard says: “I give advice on pH acid/alkaline balance because if the body is very acidic it will leach calcium from your bones to buffer the acid in your system and this impacts on your bone density.” “In the case of osteoporosis, poor diet and nutrition in the formative years (especially in pre-teen and teenage girls) can have a serious impact on the developing skeleton,” says Marcus Webb. “If peek bone mass is not achieved in the late teens the skeleton is at great risk of premature osteoporosis as the woman approaches menopause.”


Health file listings


Hadley Wood Healthcare
Tel: 0208 441 8352 Fax: 0208 449 2113
E-mail: [email protected]

Calci-D-min has been formulated specifically to help support optimal bone health. With its Vegetarian Society approved formula Calci-D-min delivers a highly absorbable plant derived calcium, magnesium and trace mineral source (produced from red algae, Lithothamnion species) supported by key nutrients such as vitamin D3, K1 and K2. In fact, Calci-D-min supplies 16 nutritional ingredients in a base of 72 trace elements! In formulating Calci-D-min we have included a dose of betaine to assist gastric calcium uptake and some extra tri-calcium phosphate to complement the calcium and magnesium ratio already present in the formula. At all times, we have aimed to keep the nutrients in Calci-D-min at effective levels whilst ensuring that it is suitable for daily use.


HealthAid Ltd, 
HealthAid House, Marlborough Hill, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 1UD
Tel: 020 8426 3400 Fax: 020 8426 3434
E-mail: [email protected]

Keeping You Flexible & Supple Keeping a spring in your step can be a bit of a struggle with stiff joints, muscle pains and general aches. Atrotone® tablets from HealthAid offers a unique formulation with Green Lipped Mussel, Chondroitin, MSM, Collagen, Turmeric, Vitamin C and Manganese, which all work synergistically to help reduce inflammation, ease stiffness and potentially rebuild damaged joints, tendons and cartilage. Atrotone® tablets help provide the support your body needs to maintain healthy joints and keep you mobile and active. Atrotone retails at £16.99 for 60 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit

kinetic-1Terranova Glucosamine, Boswellia & MSM Complex

Kinetic Natural Products,
258 Belsize Road, London, NW6 4BT
Tel: 08450 725 825 Fax: 08450 725 826
E-mail: [email protected]

Terranova Glucosamine, Boswellia & MSM Complex is a specially designed formula for active, aging or injured people. A natural formula that can really make a difference in maintaining healthy joints. Contains anti-inflammatory Boswellia Resin, Nettle, Turmeric Root, Ginger Rhizome and Root to prevent swelling around the joints as well as antioxidant rich Celery Stalk & Leaf and Stabilised Rice Bran. As with all Terranova products, the emphasis is on holistic synergy within the formulas which are created with ethically sourced ingredients and are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.


Natures Aid Ltd, St. George’s Park, Kirkham, Preston, Lancashire, PR4 2DQ
Tel: 01772 686231 Fax: 01772688700
E-mail: [email protected]

Backache and Joint Ache relief – Natures Aid JointEeze® is a licenced Traditional Herbal Remedy for Devil’s Claw root. JointEeze® is used for relief of backache, rheumatic or muscular pain, and general aches and pains in the muscle and joints, based on traditional use only. Each JointEeze® tablet contains 300mg of extract from Devil’s Claw root (equivalent to 1050 – 1500mg Devil’s Claw root). JointEeze® is available in 90 film-coated tablets (1 month supply) and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans RSP £11.95. For further information call Natures Aid on 01772 686231 or visit

kineticNature’s Answer Platinum Liquid Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM

Kinetic Natural Products,
258 Belsize Road, London, NW6 4BT
Tel: 08450 725 825 Fax: 08450 725 826
E-mail: [email protected]

Nature’s Answer Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM formula combines Glucosamine with other substances important for the resiliency and maintenance of healthy cartilage, such as Chondroitin, MSM and other joint friendly nutrients. Quik-Sorb® is an exclusive blend of herbs known to enhance delivery of nutrients to the body. Glucosamine is produced by the body and distributed in cartilage and connective tissue. Chondroitin sulfate helps cartilage retain water. Clinical studies of glucosamine have demonstrated it is an effective treatment for helping with symptoms linked to joint and muscle pain. Glucosamine also increases the formation of lubrication materials inside the joints and slows the activity of enzymes that cause joint destruction as well as aiding joint repair.


Wendy Atkinson,
Modern Herbals
Tel: 01274 889047 Fax: 01274 889435
E-mail: [email protected]

Syno-Vital is manufactured to the highest standard by Modern Herbals. It is a specialised form of liquid HA which is readily absorbed and utilized by the body. It comes in easy to use 5ml liquid sachets which are far more readily absorbed than tablets or capsules. Hyaluronan helps to increase the viscosity of the synovial fluid and so can help to cushion the joints and improve flexibility. As we get older, we produce less Hyaluronan in the body and so taking Syno-Vital can help to top up those levels and ease joint problems.

planet-healthQsilica Healthy Bones Formula

Planet Health
Tel: 0800 157 7384 Fax: 01285 740110
E-mail: [email protected]

NEW Qsilica Healthy Bones Formula is a unique food supplement specifically formulated for the maintenance of normal, healthy bones, joints and teeth. This effective and comprehensive formula contains colloidal silica and magnesium, to support the assimilation of calcium into the body and Vitamins K and D to help maintain calcium intake and assist bioavailability. Qsilica Healthy Bones Formula is highly recommended for improved bone, joint and teeth health whilst reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Suitable for vegetarians with a recommended retail price of £19.95 for 50 vegetarian capsules. For more information go to

savantCleanmarine Krill Oil

Savant Distribution
Tel: 08450 60 60 70
E-mail: [email protected]

The omega-3s in Cleanmarine Krill Oil are in phospholipid form, the same format our cell membranes use, meaning they simply slot in and get straight to work whereas the triglycerides found in fish oils must be converted first. As a result, studies have shown Cleanmarine Krill Oil offers better DHA and EPA uptake than fish oil, so smaller doses provide similar to superior benefits when compared to regular fish oils. In addition, unlike fish oils, Cleanmarine Krill Oil produces no fishy burps and is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as being sourced from a sustainable fishery. So your customers can have confidence that they are buying a superior omega 3 supplement and supporting sustainable fishing practices.

MaharishiJoint Soothe tablets

Maharishi Ayurveda Products
Tel: 0195 51015
E-mail: [email protected]

Joint Soothe Tablets are designed to support healthy joint function and keep them free of accumulated toxins. They include the Ayurvedic herbs Guggul and Tinospora to help cleanse fat tissue, bones and joints; and Shilajit, Aswagandha and Indian Asparagus, in combination with Garlic, Ginger and Long Pepper, for long-term bone and joint nourishment, mobility and comfort.

solgarSolgar® 7

Claire Wright, Solgar Vitamin & Herb,
Beggars Lane, Aldbury, Tring, Herts, HP23 5PT
Tel: 01442 890 355
E-mail: [email protected]

WALK, RUN, CLIMB, PLAY – You Can! Solgar, the company that led the way in Glucosamine Chondroitin, brings you the next generation in joint health. Solgar® 7 increases joint mobility and flexibility, helping reduce inflammation*. It combines powerful anti-oxidants and nutrients to create a fast-acting approach for joint stresses related to physical activity*. Solgar® 7 combines these nutrients in one easy-to-swallow vegetable capsule, which won the prestigious “Best New VMS Product” at the Natural & Organic Awards in April.* Vitamin C helps collagen formation for the normal function of cartilage and bones, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.

BetterYou Ltd

Tel: 0114 220 2229 Fax: 0114 220 2230
E-mail: [email protected]

BetterYou Magnesium Oil Joint Spray contains a concentrated solution of the purest magnesium chloride known. Our unique source is found one mile below ground and has been condensed, purified and protected from man-made pollutants for more than 250 million years. With a transdermal application Magnesium Oil has been proven to deliver this essential mineral up to 5 times faster than oral means. Key for skeletal strength, normalised muscle function, energy production and the body’s ability to detox. Includes natural sources of glucosamine, menthol oil and wintergreen oil. Over 800 sprays per bottle.

solgar-1Ultimate Bone Support

Claire Wright, Solgar Vitamin & Herb, 
Beggars Lane, Aldbury, Tring, Herts, HP23 5PT
Tel: 01442 890 355
E-mail: [email protected]

Unlike our skin, which is on display all the time, we often take our bones for granted. Healthy bones play many roles in the body: they provide structure, anchor muscles, store calcium and protect vital organs such as the heart, brain and lungs, and therefore need the same respect and nourishment. Ultimate Bone Support contains the most innovative, scientifically researched, highly absorbable vitamins (including Vitamins D3 and K2) and unique chelated mineral compounds (Zinc, Magnesium, Boron, Copper, Manganese), helping to provide you with lasting support. Because it is what’s inside that counts!

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Jane Wolfe has worked in journalism since leaving University with a BA (Hons) in English in 1991, covering industries as diverse as energy, broadcasting, wellbeing and animal welfare. She first became part of the Natural Products News team in 1998 as a sub editor and freelance journalist before relocating to Greece in 2004. In 2013 she returned to the magazine as assistant editor, then deputy editor.