Beating arthritis with dietary supplements: can this be true?


Tessa de Bie1, Rosella Koning2
1. Nutrition & Health, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
2. FOODbase, the Netherlands


Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have a high societal impact and are characterized by joint inflammation and degradation of the cartilage. Conventional medicine often causes severe side effects and therefore patients are willing to use dietary supplements as an alternative. We examined the available literature to assess the effectiveness and safety of widely used dietary supplements by arthritis patients. The gathered evidence shows variable results and not all supplements are as effective. Since limited evidence is available, more research is needed to refute or support the use of these supplements


Arthritis, one single term to cover over 150 different joint diseases and joint pain, from which rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are the two most prevalent joint diseases with the highest impact on society.

RA is a systemic autoimmune disease which involves inflammation of the joints and its related tissues. It starts during adulthood, between the age of 20 to 40, and progresses with pain and deformity. Most commonly the joints of the hand, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles are affected. However, also other body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory system, can be affected due to the underlying inflammatory processes (1). Currently, the prevalence ranges from 0.3 to 1% in the general population; often a higher percentage of women suffers from it. In the US alone, the estimated health care costs are annually already over $19 billion (2).

The most prevalent type of arthritis is OA. OA is a joint disease that is associated with the degeneration of the joint cartilage and inflammation. It is found more often in people that are over 60 years or obese. Due to the increased stress on the j ...