More about Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin sulfate has quickly become one of the most popular supplements for strengthening and repairing damaged cartilage — a gel-like tissue composed of about two-thirds water and some nutrients. By "lubricating" the cartilage, so to speak, chondroitin sulfate helps keep it healthy and pliable enough to serve as a shock absorber for joints.
In an ideal world, cartilage would last a lifetime, but everyday wear and tear, poor nutrition, various injuries (at times from sporting activities), and aging all take their toll and deteriorate our connective tissues. This leads to sore joints, commonly aching elbows and knees.
What it is and how it works
Chondroitin sulfate, scientifically classified as a "glycosaminoglycan," is a major component of cartilage and bone. It keeps cartilage healthy by attracting and holding water and nutrients within its matrix. And, it allows other molecules to move freely through the cartilage, which is critical because cartilage has no blood supply.
Fortunately, even after cartilage is damaged, studies have shown that chondroitin sulfate may help it heal more quickly and regenerate itself by attracting nutrients and water to the area — allowing the connective tissues to become stronger and more flexible. This makes chondroitin particularly well-suited for athletes and active individuals who sometimes suffer from damaged joints (cartilage) as a result of repetitive motion and stress-impacting injuries. Studies indicate chondroitin may even promote bone healing if the bone should become damaged or broken.
In the case of osteoarthritis, the cartilage between joints has broken down so severely that bone rubs against bone, sometimes making it painful or even impossible to move. Studies confirm that chondroitin sulfate halts the premature breakdown of cartilage and restores function and mobility to damaged joints, enabling movement to become almost "pain free."
In one three-month study, subjects who took chondroitin experienced a significant reduction in the symptoms of osteoarthritis compared with the placebo group. And in a year-long study, subjects who supplemented with chondroitin for osteoarthritis of the knee fared significantly better than the placebo group. The chondroitin group demonstrated a greater degree of mobility, less joint swelling, and increased stability. What's more, in 6 of the 25 chondroitin subjects, the cartilage had become denser, stronger, and healthier.
The impressive results of studies conducted on chondroitin have led researchers to conclude that chondroitin sulfate does more than ease joint pain and inflammation. It may actually help maintain and rebuild healthy cartilage and even heal damaged bones.