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Chondroitin is a supplement, frequently used in conjunction with Glucosamine, to combat the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA).
A recent surge of meta-analyses (studies researching other studies) found that most studies that showed benefit with chondroitin were poorly designed or subject to chance statistical error (due to low amount of participants). Larger studies (which are seen as more reliable) tend to show no benefits with chondroitin nor glucosamine supplementation in isolation or combined.
Although many people do report benefit from using this supplement (especially when paired with Glucosamine), the current body of scientific literature does not hold these two supplements in high regard.
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A standard dose of chondroitin, if chosen to supplement with, is in the range of 1000-1200mg a day in either one dose or two to three divided doses taken with food.
Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan chain of alternating Uronic acids and D-N-acetyl-galactosamine molecules bound by 1,3 bonds. They are produced in vivo to limited amounts and were initially extracted from animal sources, but are now industrially made via bacterial fermentation.
Chondroitin supplementation is absorbed fairly well when taken orally. A 4g dose of chondroitin sulfate supplementation can increase plasma levels from 0.3 to 5.3 microg/ml and reaches peak levels 2-6 hours after ingestion. Its main pathway of excretion is through the urine and urinary levels of chondroitin (and other glycosaminoglycans) seems to be increased during diabetes mellitus.
That being said, most recent meta-analyses indicate that the benefits gained from the combination or Chondroitin in isolation are not significantly different from placebo, and causation for improvement cannot be placed on the compounds themselves. It is mentioned that most studies finding benefit separate from placebo either have poor study design or inadequate sample sizes, whereas larger scale studies note no difference.
In effect, the scientific consensus of chondroitin at this time is one of uncertainty as it does not appear to be much different when compared to placebo.
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(Users who contributed to this page include KurtisFrank)