Some athletes say that chondroitin sulfate helps reduce joint pain.
For a long time, glucosamine dominated the market among supplements used to ease joint pain. Now, many practitioners prefer to use a combination of both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Many have found this combination to be effective, particularly for runners, who tend to develop problems with their knees. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are well absorbed by the molecules that make up cartilage. They are not available from food. It is not uncommon to have to take these supplements indefinitely to continue to experience relief.
Recent research has shown that the results of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis in the knee is no different than that of placebo. This gives people further reason to at least give supplements, such as chondroitin sulfate, a try before enduring more invasive, expensive approaches.
Chondroitin sulfate, 800 to 1,200 mg per day, is effective for reducing joint pain caused by osteoarthritis.1 , 2 Other uses of chondroitin sulfate for sports and fitness, including prevention of joint pain or treatment of sports injuries, have not been studied.
Nausea may occur at intakes greater than 10 grams per day. No other adverse effects have been reported.
One doctor has raised a concern that chondroitin sulfate should not be used by men with prostate cancer. This concern is based upon two studies. In one, the concentration of chondroitin sulfate was found to be higher in cancerous prostate tissue as compared to normal prostate tissue.3 In the other study, it was shown that higher concentrations of chondroitin sulfate in the tissue surrounding a cancerous prostate tumor predict a higher rate of recurrence of the cancer after surgery.4 However, no studies to date have addressed the question of whether taking chondroitin sulfate supplements could promote the development of prostate cancer. Simply because a substance is present in or around cancerous tissue does not by itself suggest that that substance is causing the cancer. For example, calcium is a component of atherosclerotic plaques that harden the arteries; however, there is no evidence that taking calcium supplements causes atherosclerosis. To provide meaningful information, further studies would need to track the incidence of prostate cancer in men taking chondroitin supplements. Until then, most nutritionally-oriented doctors remain unconcerned about this issue.
The only significant food source of chondroitin sulfate is animal cartilage.
Last Review: 07-07-2014
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