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Chondroitin Supplements

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan, or GAG (also known as a mucopolysaccharide), which is a substance that attaches to collagen and elastin to form cartilage. Cartilage acts as a sort of shock absorber for the joints and vertebrae in your body; as you age, your body becomes less effective at repairing and regenerating all tissues, including cartilage. Some people, especially those who are overweight or genetically predisposed, suffer from the excessive cartilage loss that can cause osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by chronic pain and inflammation in the joints and vertebrae.

Because chondroitin is a natural component of cartilage, taking chondroitin supplements may help the body to produce cartilage more quickly and efficiently, especially when combined with glucosamine sulfate, another raw material used to create cartilage in the body. Chondroitin sulfate also inhibits the action of enzymes that break down cartilage and attracts moisture to cartilage tissue so that it remains flexible.

There has been extensive research concerning the effects of chondroitin supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms, and most studies reported that oral chondroitin sulfate supplements helped relieve pain and stiffness in the knees, hips, finger joints, and spines of participants, thus reducing their need for anti-inflammatories. Chondroitin is currently made from natural sources, such as cartilage taken from sharks or cows, as well as synthetic sources. It is, however, somewhat difficult to absorb, so if you are suffering from severe arthritic symptoms and seeking more immediate relief you may wish to speak to your physician about chondroitin injections, which are the most effective form of this supplement.

Chondroitin is present in the lining of blood vessels, and it helps promote normal blood flow throughout the body. It may help prevent a heart attack in patients with a history of heart disease or heart attack by helping to thin the blood and prevent potentially fatal clots from forming in the arteries. In fact, chondroitin has been found to be chemically similar to the blood thinner, heparin. Research indicates that chondroitin sulfate helps to lower cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis in animals and humans.

Chondroitin is also located in the linings of the digestive tract, mucus membranes, and arteries. Chondroitin supplementation may help treat conditions linked to the deterioration of these linings, such as chronic venous insufficiency, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and congestive heart failure. In addition, research indicates that chondroitin sulfate may help prevent kidney stones by reducing levels of oxalate in the urine.

Chondroitin sulfate is available in supplemental tablets at most health food stores and many drug stores. It is also often combined with glucosamine in supplements marketed as remedies for arthritis, joint pain, and chronic back pain. The recommended dosage of chondroitin sulfate for treatment of arthritis is 1,200 mg of chondroitin per day. The optimal balance between chondroitin and glucosamine is not known, although the usual dosage is 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin and 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine each day.

There have been rare reports of side effects associated with this medication, including diarrhea, increased asthma symptoms, nausea, photosensitivity, rash, and edema. Because chondroitin is a natural anticoagulent, anyone with blood disorders, or who is currently taking blood thinners or aspirin should take chondroitin only after consulting a physician.

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