5% Nutrition’s Joint Defender: The “Whatever it Takes” Joint Supplement

Well hot damn, we didn’t see this one coming. That’s all we really have to say about 5% Nutrition’s Joint Defender.

The brand started by Rich Piana went all out and threw in seventeen highly effective ingredients all to make sure that your joints are staying healthy day in and day out. 17! Do these ingredients add up to a wonderful joint cocktail? Let’s dive in.

The 5% Joint Defender Premise

Rich Piana 5% Nutrition Joint Defender

5% Nutrition’s Joint Defender has a massive 15g scoop of nearly everything a joint pain sufferer could ask for!

To us, 5% Nutrition translates to ‘go big or go home’, and that translates to their formulations as well as their attitude on life. Lost in the media ruckus that was the late great Rich Piana is the fact that this brand puts together some serious formulas, and Joint Defender is a clear example of the company’s philosophy. They found a problem and try to annihilate it with a carpet bomb of ingredients, yet the price is reasonable.

If you’re tired of screwed up joints and connective tissue and are ready to literally throw a Piana-sized kitchen sink at the problem, then step on up. Joint Defender is that product.

5% Nutrition has the right idea. If you can’t Kill It with Rich, you Kill it with killer formulas. Joint Defender, at least to your dear PricePlow team, is a statement by the company to “let our products do the talking”.

So what makes it so different than the thousand other joint formulas out there? Several answers as you’ll see in the ingredient analysis below, but one of the main ones is a massivedose of type-II collagen.

First we’ll check the prices and sign up for news alerts on PricePlow and then dig in:

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The name of the product lets us set our expectations easy. When we take a scoop of Joint Defender, it should protect our joints and possibly even speed up their repair. Did 5% Nutrition hit the target with this product? Here we go:


  • D-Glucosamine Sulfate (3g)

    Rich Piana's 5% Nutrition Joint Defender Ingredients

    Joints, meet the kitchen sink. There’s very little missing here, and some monster doses (like 2g Type-II collagen) we’ve never seen before!

    Glucosamine is the “standard” ingredient for joint soreness. Thankfully, 5% Nutrition went with sulfate, the form of glucosamine supported by a vast pool of literature. They even stuck with 3,000mg, a well-tolerated and effective dose.

    Glucosamine supplementation helps reduce joint pain, lower symptoms of osteoarthritis, decrease recovery time after injuries, and may even reduce collagen degradation as a preventative measure.[1-4]

    Our take on glucosamine

    Now here’s our belief on this ingredient. It’s not a miracle worker, but it helps… as long as you’re willing to dose it long enough and high enough. For many people, glucosamine takes several months to start showing results, and there’s a very low adherence when you have to take three massive horse pills to get even a 1.5g dose (half of this).

    So because your average person is either:

    1. Expecting miracles
    2. Unwilling / unable to adhere to a good enough dose long enough

    And because of that, glucosamine gets an unwarranted “bad rap” for “not working”.

    The solution? Make it more enjoyable and dose it better by putting it in a powder with a ton of other good stuff. Exactly what 5% Nutrition did.

  • Methylsulfonylmethane (3g)

    MSM Supplements

    MSM Supplements aren’t just for arthritis sufferers (although they have great research on that). Athletes need to check MSM out too!

    More commonly known as MSM, like glucosamine, this ingredient is also a typical member of the “joint health starter pack” that people will experiment with upon experiencing joint pain. And for good reason – it has some successful research behind it.

    MSM contains sulfur and appears naturally in the human body. The sulfur contained within MSM is highly usable by the body and falls into a proteinogenic pathway.[5]

    MSM is a great supplement to pair with glucosamine as it also reduces recovery time in athletic populations. It may even improve mobility and reduce inflammation markers in the body.[6-9] The literature has shown the benefits start at 3g. Since 5% Nutrition has the room with a powdered supplement in Joint Defender, they hooked us up with the full clinical dose.

    Two for two. But what can they give us that’s new or different?!

  • Type-II Collagen (2g!)

    Kollagen II-xs

    Some great anti-pain research with this one!

    Well here we go! Two grams of this stuff is nearly unheard of!

    Present in Joint Defender as the trademarked formulation kollaGen II-xs, is likely the star of the entire ingredients list, especially at this dose. Type II collagen is a peptide that’s a component of joint cartilage. When taken orally, it results in lower inflammation and less pain, at least in cases of osteoarthritis.

    While collagen is a common joint-health ingredient, most labels do not disclose the collagen that’s present, or pixie dust it in a capsule. 5% Nutrition officially flexed on other supplement companies by going with the expensive form tailored for joint health, and a serious amount of it too. As of right now, this is the most expensive type of Type II collagen – the Rolls Royce of collagens.

    What do we love even more than full disclosure, you may ask? KollaGen II in its current form is supported by actual research. The current investigations showed that KollaGen II improved the mobility and activity levels of those suffering from adverse joint health.[10] They have also shown it to reduce overall joint pain.[11]

    A pain targeted dose

    Again, the dose is where it’s at:

    The study results showed that KollaGen II-xs™ when taken at a dosage of 375mg – 500mg twice per day appears to benefit joint inflammation, secondary mobility and other tertiary effects. KollaGen II-xs™ taken at a dosage of 1500 mg – 2500 mg daily significantly reduced pain and inflammatory response.[10,36]

    That study showed a 76.1% reduction of reported pain after 30 days!

    5% Nutrition could have gone with that lower dose to “appear to benefit joint inflammation”, but they know that we need to target pain, because that’s the way 5%-ers train – for better or for worse!

    Type II Collagen

    The research doesn’t seem to be published, but other forms of Type-II Collagens have also fared well, and we’re willing to give it a go when the shoulder’s bummin

    At this point, Joint Defender’s already worth trying for someone looking for something with a couple trusted ingredients as well as something strong and different. They could have finished here, but they went above and beyond. We still have fourteen ingredients left to discuss! Buckle up!

  • L-Proline (2g)

    Proline is a proteogenic amino acid — or “protein creating”. More importantly, proline is a common amino acid used by the body for joint and skin repairs. Proline is a good, if not minor, inclusion as it will provide the body with more resources to use for joint repairs. Theoretically, proline supplementation will improve the ability of Type-CC and MSM to speed up injury healing,[12] as the body needs the appropriate building blocks to carry out its repair functions.

  • L-Lysine Hydrochloride (2g)

    Rich Piana Perserverence

    To persevere in your workouts, you need your joints to be in top form!

    L-Lysine is an essential amino acid the human body can not make on its own. We’ve talked about it more because it’s a ketogenic amino acid, and should not contribute to blood sugar spikes and thus shouldn’t contribute to inflammation.

    To help you leave this article with some new biochem knowledge, an essential amino acid is an acid you have to get from diet as the body is incapable of producing it (hence it’s essential to ingest).

    Anyway, it’s important for the formation of collagen and tissue repair, yet it’s not a very common joint ingredient (or even heavily-dosed in amino acid recovery formulas), so it’s added as a supporting ingredient.

    To top it off, lysine can promote human growth hormone release,[13] which is always great for repair too!

  • Chondroitin Sulfate (500mg)

    Chondroitin is an ingredient that’s often paired with glucosamine and MSM, but doesn’t really seem to do a ton on its own. Usually found within cartilage surrounding joints in a myriad of organisms, chondroitin was once thought to act synergistically with glucosamine.[14,15] However, recent data has shown that chondroitin may not help as much as we thought.[16,17]

    It may be of some benefit, but we doubt it. We’re thankful that it doesn’t take up much of the serving size. No complaints here, 5% Nutrition likely just included it for label dressing purposes for those who still believe they must have it with the glucosamine and MSM, and that’s fine since we have a massive powder here.

    If this were a capsule product, we’d complain since caps have limited space, but this scoop is clearly rather unlimited. Point being, don’t sweat it, the ingredients above and below are far more important.

  • Hyaluronic Acid (250mg)

    Hyaluronic Acid Benefits

    “The results of the present study have shown that the oral administration of HA may have beneficial therapeutic effects on patients with symptomatic knee OA and may be even more beneficial for relatively young patients”[18]

    Now back to the exciting stuff! Hyaluronic Acid, or HA is a part of synovial fluid, the fluid that keeps our joints nice and lubricated. The research has shown that HA, dosed at about 200mg per day, improves the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, even in young patients![18]5% Nutrition is giving us 50mg than the clinical dose. Good move on their part — this is a underrated ingredient. And for some reason, we don’t see it many of the sports nutrition specific joint supplements. Hyaluronic Acid is not just for skin care and old folks!!
  • Cat’s Claw (100mg)

    Cat’s Claw is an herb often seen as a brain-boosting nootropic by supplement companies. Research shows that Cat’s Claw may improve memory, increase BDNF levels in the brain, repair damaged DNA, and it may even help protect the brain from damage.[19,20] That’s awesome, but not the reason it’s here, although the anti-inflammatory mechanism may be related.

    Instead, its traditional use is as an “all purpose” healing agent for conditions like arthritis, inflammation, and even fever.[21] Its constituent, mitraphylline, seems to have anti-inflammatory potential by suppressing inflammatory cytokines from being released by the immune system.[37]

  • Pine Bark Extract (100mg)

    Pine Bark Extract falls under the “nitric oxide enhancer” category, and we’ve been seeing this make a huge comeback in some potent supplements that focus on enhanced blood flow (for workout purposes in those cases). So why is it in Joint Defender? Two reasons – direct evidence and indirect evidence as a supporting ingredient.

    Direct evidence for pain reduction and less stiffness

    Research on some forms of pine bark extract shows that 100-150mg seems quite effective for the osteoarthritis symptoms, including pain and joint stiffness.[38,39] The catch? It took up to three months to see maximal benefits, which is quite a few tubs of Joint Defender!

    Indirect hypothesis via the nutrient delivery angle

    5% Nutrition Joint Defender

    “Beneficial to almost any age group, Joint Defender prides itself not only on quality but providing effective and immediate results.”

    Back to the blood flow hypothesis: By increasing the levels of nitric oxide in the body, your blood vessels will be wider than usual (this is known as vasodilation), which allows for greater blood flow to your muscles and joints.[22] You should think of blood as a nutrient reservoir. More blood flow means more nutrients are being delivered to the parts of the body that need them, so this is a supporting ingredient for everything else.

    It also doesn’t hurt that 5% Nutrition is a sports supplement company, and many of its customers are going to train after taking Joint Defender… and this has several related workout benefits as well.

  • DiMagnesium Malate (250mg) (yields 50mg magnesium)

    Dimagnesium Malate is a formulation that combines magnesium and malic acid. It is most used for pain relief, fatigue, constipation, and many muscular and metabolic conditions.[24-26] Magnesium deficiency is more common than you’d think.[27] While we wonder if the benefits arise from correcting this deficiency, they’re benefits all the same.

    This will contribute to 12% of your daily value of magnesium – nothing crazy, but definitely a gap-fill for those who aren’t already supplementing some magnesium. Truth be told, you should be putting your foods and supplements into an app like MyFitnessPal to see if you really need more.

  • Indian Frankincense (50mg)

    You’re used to seeing this ingredient as Boswellia serrata. This ingredient is so amazing that we’d like to see it bumped up to a much higher dose in future versions of Joint Defender.

    Joint Defender

    Teased in late 2017, it came in early 2018, and in a big way!

    Indian Frankincense is well supported by research for its potency as an anti-inflammatory agent. It may even inhibit the breakdown of collagen through a blockage of MMP-3 activity,[29,30] synergizing with our type-II collagen above.

    We’re gonna be honest and say this dose is too low, maybe a 1/4th of what it should be. 5% Nutrition could save a few dimes by getting rid of the chondroitin and replace it with Boswellia serrata and Joint Defender would be missing nearly nothing. But when you have a formula this expensive to create, some is better than none!

  • Ginger Extract (50mg)

    The star of Asian cuisines is also a star in the joint-health arena. Through its huge amount of active components like gingerols, zingerone, shogaols, and other volatile oils, ginger imparts the body with an absurd amount of benefits. For Joint Defender, we’ll stick to its use as a joint health ingredient. Ginger extracts have been shown to reduce pain and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis by 40%![28]

  • Turmeric Extract (50mg)

    Curcumin for Joint Pain

    A curry a day keeps the joint pain away!

    Turmeric is known for its huge amount of curcumin, which is a popular supplement in its own right. Curcurmin is much more than a delicious tastant. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric has been to be effective against episodic or acute inflammation. It acts akin to NSAIDs as it inhibits cytokine formation while down-regulating COX-2.[32,33]

    This is one ingredient that could also be dosed higher, although that’d ruin the taste to the point of it being obnoxious. The joint benefits of curcumin just don’t outweigh the taste, so this is a joint support ingredient that’s simply better taken in capsule form if you’re really looking to go all out. We’d suggest running with Joint Defender solo first to see though.

  • Bioperine (5mg)

    Old faithful, one of the original ingredient amplifiers! Bioperine is a trademarked form of black pepper extract standardized for piperine, and is here for one reason: to improve the body’s ability to use the other ingredients.[23]

    It’s in almost every single 5% Nutrition product, but this is where it really makes sense: the best study performed on piperine’s ability to amplify bioavailability of an ingredient is with none other than curcumin, which is inside! In fact, it increased the bioavailability 2000%[23] – so we never recommend taking a non-enhanced version of turmeric alone when you can easily amp it up with Bioperine!

Now how’s that for a profile?! Exhausting!

Flavors Available

5 Percent Whatever it Takes

This is indeed the “whatever it takes” joint supplement

5% Nutrition wisely chose to make this into a powdered, flavored supplement. They offer joint Defender in two distinct flavors, lemon lime and strawberry lemonade.

A quick flavor review

Mike’s had strawberry lemonade, and it’s good but not great. Looking at the profile, it’s pretty clear to see why – and there’s definitely a bit of a “bland protein” taste to it thanks to the collagen and aminos.

With a supplement like this, you don’t need to “look forward” to drinking it for taste – you’re already desperate for some joint relief and will gladly drink something as long as it’s acceptable. You just need to not want to avoid taking it. And that’s where the flavor is at with this.

A more complete review is on its way.

Conclusion: 5% Nutrition Has Another Potent Formula

Ever since Rich’s passing, 5% Nutrition has worked hard to revitalize the interest of the public, and the way they’re doing it is with non-legacy formulas to carry a legacy name.

5 Percent Nutrition Knock the Carb Out Bars

5% is crushing it with these unique formulas! We were skeptical as to whether 20g protein plus prebiotic fiber would really keep blood sugar down… but we were blown away by how well the bars performed!!

Let’s be honest — Rich Piana was a walking billboard (and near the size of one), and it’s hard to replace that. Many thought they’d try to find the “next Rich Piana”, but that’s simply never going to happen. Impossible task. So instead, they’ve decided to crush it with formulas – from Knock the Carb Out keto bars to Kill It Reloaded to the updated Real Carbs.

But Joint Defender takes things to another level, at least for those who need it. This is a kitchen sink joint supplement that can be seen as a sundae with a base of the best ice cream around. The three scoops of ice cream at the base: MSM, glucosamine sulfate, and Type II collagen are great on their own. Then you walk over to the toppings bar and things get wild. The “toppings” may not have as much research as the ice cream, but they all add a unique dimension to the experience.

Because when your joints are a mess, in true 5% Nutrition style, you’ll do whatever it takes to solve the problem. And in this case, that means chugging 17 ingredients that make one of the best joint supplements we’ve seen. Anywhere.

So if you’re hurting and its killing your actual performance, then it’s time to move joint supplements to the top of your budget. And in that case, we recommend trying a couple tubs worth.

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