Does MegaRed Joint Care Relieve Joint Pain?

People with osteoarthritis often turn to dietary supplements to relieve pain and make their joints stronger and healthier. One popular option is MegaRed Superior Joint Care, a product made by Schiff that combines several ingredients that may help ease symptoms of arthritis. If you're thinking of adding a dietary supplement to your own treatment for joint degeneration and pain due to osteoarthritis, here are some things to consider.

Woman with joint pain
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Three Ingredients vs. One Disease

There are three active ingredients in MegaRed Superior Joint Care: a proprietary blend of krill oil, hyaluronic acid, and astaxanthin. Here is how each of these substances may help to treat osteoarthritis.

  • Krill oil comes from tiny crustaceans called krill that exist in oceans all over the world. They're a rich source of omega-3 fats, the so-called "healthy" fats also found in cold-water fish like salmon and sardines. Research in animals suggests that omega-3 fats can help lower the risk of osteoarthritis. A 2011 study of guinea pigs published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, for instance, found that those fed an omega-3-rich diet were 50 percent less likely to develop osteoarthritis. According to Consumer Reports, krill oil typically contains more of the omega-3 fat eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than do fish, which may give it an advantage over fish oil in arthritis treatments. A clinical trial at the University of Health in Toronto in 2007 found that a particular brand of krill oil reduced pain, stiffness, loss of function, and inflammation in people with arthritis.
  • Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring substance in the body that helps to keep skin moist. In the joints, ​​hyaluronic acid is a major component of the synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions them. Arthritis causes hyaluronic acid to break down, so the theory is that replacing it will help to restore joint health. And in fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved injections of hyaluronic acid for treating arthritis of the knee. Targeted injections of a substance aren't the same as taking that substance by mouth, so it's unclear if hyaluronic acid taken orally as part of a mix of other ingredients will boost levels in joints.
  • Astaxanthin is a carotenoid antioxidant found in seafood such as shrimp and salmon that give these foods a pinkish hue and has been studied for its potential to prevent atherosclerotic heart disease. It also has been touted as a promising treatment for joint inflammation but there's little conclusive research yet about how effective it might be.

Does MegaRed Superior Joint Care Ease Arthritis?

On its website, Schiff claims that just one soft gel per day of MegaRed Superior Joint Care is twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin for relieving sore joints, according to a 56-day randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. However, it's important to note that this research was sponsored by the company and has not been published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal.

Other claims about MegaRed Superior Joint Care are that it can take as few as seven days for someone to feel relief from sore, aching joints and that the full effect from the supplements takes about eight weeks.

It's important to note, though, that dietary supplements are considered alternative or complementary treatments, and so do not require FDA approval, as other drugs do. They can be marketed with little scientific research to back up their touted effectiveness and presumed safety. For that reason, you should always check with your doctor before taking any medication, even over-the-counter vitamins. Believe it or not, even something as innocuous and natural-sounding as a dietary supplement can interact with some prescription medications or be unsafe for certain people.

In fact, Schiff warns that folks with shellfish allergy, coagulopathy (clotting problems), or who take anticoagulants or other medications, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should consult with their doctors before using MegaRed Superior Joint Care.

The bottom line, then, is that although MegaRed Superior Joint Care may very well relieve pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis, there's little clinical proof that it does this. If your doctor gives you the green light to try it, keep your expectations realistic: no supplement is a cure for osteoarthritis.

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