Joint pain is the most common chronic health issue globally. In the US, about one-fourth of adults are living with joint pain. However, the prevalence of joint pain and inflammation or arthritis increases with age. Thus, it affects almost half of all adults older than 65 years of age.1
Yes, those numbers are massive. It means that if someone does not care for joints, they are likely to develop arthritis with advancing age.
The number one cause of arthritis or joint pain globally is osteoarthritis, a wear and tear disease. If unmanaged properly, it causes significant loss of joint cartilage, followed by irreversible changes in the joint structure. It is more likely to affect large and weight-bearing joints, particularly knee and hip joints.
There are many ways to lower the risk of osteoarthritis and other joint issues. One should treat metabolic disorders, lower body weight, engage in a healthy lifestyle, and more. However, it is equally vital to boost regenerative processes through the right kind of nutrition and bone health.
Therefore, consuming foods high in calcium, proteins, other minerals, and vitamins D and K can help reduce the risk. It is also vital to consider specific nutrients known to nourish joints and reduce inflammation, like chondroitin.
What Is Chondroitin Sulfate?
Chondroitin is a kind of glycoprotein naturally produced in joints. It is present in large amounts in joint cartilage. It plays a vital role in maintaining cartilage tissues. If cartilage remains intact, there is a lower risk of joint pain.2
Also, chondroitin plays a vital role in maintaining joint lubrication and reducing inflammation.
However, as people grow older, the body loses its ability to produce chondroitin in ample amounts. Therefore, getting more chondroitin via diet or supplements is a good idea.
What Is the Source?
Chondroitin has traditionally been of natural origins, mainly derived from shark or bovine cartilage. However, things have changed in recent years as science has learned to produce it synthetically. Both chondroitin of natural origins and synthetic are equally suitable for health.
Among food sources, bone broth is one of the excellent sources of chondroitin. That is why many people with joint disorders consume bone broth regularly.
Chondroitin Sulfate Health Benefits
Traditionally, people have used chondroitin for treating joint disorders. However, in recent years, researchers have realized that it can also help modulate immunity and lower inflammation apart from nourishing joints. Thus, science is now exploring its use in other health conditions. Some health benefits of chondroitin are:3
Osteoarthritis or joint disorders
It is the main reason to use chondroitin. It is among the best nutrients known to nourish joints, prevent cartilage destruction, and promote joint cartilage regeneration. Studies have confirmed that it helps reduce joint pain in knee and hip osteoarthritis. It can help reduce joint inflammation and stiffness. Chondroitin provides prolonged relief, and health benefits are experienced three months after discontinuation.
Chondroitin is also used to manage chronic urinary system issues, especially for managing interstitial cystitis after radiotherapy. It appears that chondroitin promotes local healing processes. Science still has to discover if chondroitin can also benefit from cystitis due to other issues like chronic infection.4
In recent years, attitudes towards chondroitin are changing. Now, science understands that it helps nourish the body, modulates immunity, and lowers inflammation. It is especially good for treating connective tissue disorders. Therefore, researchers are exploring its role in a range of health conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancers, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, and many other health conditions.3
Although its optimal dosage is not established, the most commonly tested dosage is 400 mg thrice or 600 mg twice daily. It is also worth understanding that managing joint disorders is challenging and requires prolonged and consistent efforts. Therefore, one can expect significant benefits after a few weeks of regular use.
One should use chondroitin supplements for at least three months before making any conclusion. If one experiences benefits, one can continue using it for months or even years. Chondroitin will work better when used earlier, as cartilage is slow to regenerate and may not revive in late stages when significant damage has occurred.
In conclusion, chondroitin sulfate, a natural glycoprotein found in joints, plays a vital role in maintaining joint health, especially as the body’s ability to produce it diminishes with age. It is commonly used to alleviate joint pain and inflammation, particularly in osteoarthritis cases, and it promotes cartilage regeneration. Additionally, chondroitin may have broader health benefits, including immune modulation and inflammation reduction, making it a potential aid in various health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and more. While the recommended dosage varies, consistent use for several weeks is typically necessary to experience significant benefits, and its effectiveness is greater when used early in the onset of joint issues.
- National Statistics | CDC. Published August 25, 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/national-statistics.html
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis. NCCIH. Accessed September 27, 2023. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/glucosamine-and-chondroitin-for-osteoarthritis
- Chondroitin Information | Mount Sinai - New York. Mount Sinai Health System. Accessed September 27, 2023. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/chondroitin
- Sorensen RB. Chondroitin Sulphate in the Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis and Chronic Inflammatory Disease of the Urinary Bladder. European Urology Supplements. 2003;2(4):16-18. doi:10.1016/S1569-9056(03)00036-8