Literatus: Care for your cartilages instead


THE excessive use of the limbs and extremities such as among competitive athletes, can lead to severe arthritic conditions through sheer wear and tear, especially if the dietary support is not adequate. A very important food supplement available today to remedy this is chondroitin sulfate. It is sulfated complex polysaccharides (glycosaminoglycans), which is naturally in the human connective tissues, such as bones, cartilages, ligaments, skin and tendons.

In arthritic conditions, it is observed to diminish, particularly as the person advances in years. Thus, replenishing it is essential in maintaining well-functioning skeletal tissue. In its food supplement form, chondroitin sulfate is produced from different sources. It comes from the ear, trachea and nose cartilages of different species: cattle (bovine), pigs (porcine), shark and skate (piscine) and chicken (galline). Thus, it can vary in purity, content, and other pharmaceutical parameters, which effects can also vary in your body. Researchers recommend the use of pharmaceutical grade chondroitin sulfate for your needs. Although the National Institutes of Health classifies it as a food supplement, the European Medicines Agency classifies chondroitin sulfate as biologically active substance.

The drawback, however, is that chondroitin sulfate has not been fully studied yet. For instance, its concentration in the blood after intake has not been thoroughly studied. Older literature estimated that at 10 to 20 percent, which means that an intake of 400 mg, it can generate a supplementation of only 40 to 80 mg. Its beneficial effects, however, are already known.

First, it controls inflammation in the bones and other connective tissues. Second, it increases type II collagen, which forms the cartilages surrounding the bone joints where arthritis is usually observed. This means that it can control the structural integrity of the joint cartilage to prevent arthritis from setting in, thus, playing a preventive role for the elderly. Third, it also increases the production of proteoglycans, which supports the formation of new cartilages and renders the tendons stronger and smoother. Fourth, it has been observed to reduce bone resorption, which is the breaking down of the bone tissues through the action of osteoclasts. This occurs when the body needs calcium so that the calcium in the bones can be utilized in other tissues of the body, such as the muscles. Thus, adequate calcium supplementation is important to avoid triggering the resorption process.

Last, it establishes a balance in the production and destruction of bone cells (osteocytes), which often occurs significantly among post-menopausal women. Johanne Pelletier, Aina Farran, Eulalia Montell, Josep Verges and Jean-Piere Pelletier reminded in their 2015 Molecules report to use pharmaceutical grade chondroitin sulfate and not ordinary supplement grade products to maximize preventive and arthritis control effects.


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