Last week we saw that damage and death of the specialised cells that maintain cartilage is the real driver behind osteoarthritis. An excellent study (Carlo and Loeser, 2003, Arthritis Rheumatology) investigated the relationship between the antioxidant glutathione and death of cartilage producing chondrocyte cells.

They concluded “These results provide evidence that increased oxidative stress with aging makes chondrocytes more susceptible to oxidant-mediated cell death through the dysregulation of the glutathione antioxidant system. This may represent an important contributing factor to the development of osteoarthritis in older adults.”

In English this means that the chondrocyte cells that maintain cartilage can be damaged or even die if we have low levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Our bodies make glutathione from the trace mineral selenium.

New Zealand soils have low levels of selenium meaning that most of us have insufficient selenium to make the glutathione we need to protect not just chondrocytes but most cell types.

This is why a good multi-mineral/multi-antioxidant that includes selenium and other cartilage protecting antioxidants is a good idea at any age. If protecting chondrocytes is the best way to prevent OA, the real question is what should we do if we already have OA?

At a minimum I would combine an anti-inflammatory diet with at least 750mg of quality chondroitin, glucosamine plus a well-absorbed turmeric (curcumin) extract. To this we would add Omega 3 from diet (fish and flaxseeds) and supplements. Ideally we would then add a broad spectrum multi-mineral/antioxidant/vitamin supplement.

I have been helping someone with serious pain from OA in her thumbs and knees. We reviewed her diet and added three supplements: a high chondroitin joint supplement, Omega 3 fish oil and a potent multi-antioxidant. The results have been that after three months she rates the thumbs as 80 per cent improved and the knee 90 per cent. For more information give me a call or email You can read back issues at

John Arts is a qualified nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. Contact John on 0800 423 559.

John Arts
Abundant Living