Betalains in beetroot ease painful joints
Supplementation with an extract from beetroot – official name Beta vulgaris – reduces joint pain. Beetroots contain betalains, which inhibit the enzymes that immune cells use to attack joints. Researchers at the American FutureCeuticals write about this in Nutrition and Dietary Supplements.
Beetroots get their red colour from a group of substances that chemists call betalains. The most important of these is betanin, the structural formula of which is shown on the right.
In 2007 Italian biochemists published the results of an in-vitro study in which betanin inhibited the enzyme myeloperoxidase. [Free Radic Res. 2007 Mar;41(3):335-41.] Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme that immune cells use to attack tissue in the body. These attacks play an important role in joint problems.
The American company FutureCeuticals [futureceuticals.com] produces a range of extracts for supplements and functional foods, and developed a beetroot extract that consists for at least 25 percent of betanin, isobetanin, neobetanin and other betalains. [Food chemistry. 2011;127(1):42–53.]
Researchers at FutureCeuticals tested that extract on 40 test subjects aged between 45 and 65, all of whom complained of knee pain when they used the joint. The researchers gave half of their subjects a placebo for 10 days, and gave the other half 2 capsules a day which contained 50 mg Beta vulgaris extract.
At the start and finish of the experimental period the researchers asked the subjects to complete the WOMAC questionnaire. Doctors and scientists use this questionnaire to determine how much joint pain people are experiencing. The best score you can get is 0 and the worst 96.
In the placebo group the subjects' scores went down by 11 percent; in the beet group they went down by 26 percent. The decrease in the placebo group was not statistically significant; in the experimental group the decrease was statistically significant.
The figure below shows that the beetroot-extract supplement gave the subjects more energy. This is probably because the supplement reduced the pain.
"Betalain-rich red beet concentrate is a promising new natural product for people with joint discomfort. The dose of 50 mg of betalain-rich red beet concentrate, twice a day, provided significant improvement in knee discomfort and function within 5 to 10 days, with no side effects", the researchers wrote.
"A larger clinical study is planned, to investigate the effect of long-term treatment with betalain-rich red beet concentrate on knee joint comfort, function, and performance."
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