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Chondroitin Sulfate for Sports & Fitness

Why Use

Chondroitin Sulfate

Why Do Athletes Use It?*

Some athletes say that chondroitin sulfate helps reduce joint pain.

What Do the Advocates Say?*

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.

*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.

Dosage & Side Effects

Chondroitin Sulfate

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

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.

Side Effects

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.

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

It is not known whether taking glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate in combination is a more effective treatment for osteoarthritis than taking either one by itself.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • Warfarin
    There have been more than 20 case reports in which the use of glucosamine was associated with an apparent decrease in the efficacy of warfarin (as demonstrated by an increase in the International Normalized Ratio [INR]).5 Because INR values can fluctuate randomly, controlled trials are needed to determine whether the increased INR values in these case reports were caused by glucosamine. Nevertheless, people taking warfarin should not take glucosamine without consulting their doctor.

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • none

More Resources

Chondroitin Sulfate

Where to Find It

The only significant food source of chondroitin sulfate is animal cartilage.

Resources

See a list of books, periodicals, and other resources for this and related topics.

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