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Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Supplements Helpful for Arthritis Patients

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Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic joint problem, with 70–90% of adults over age 75 years having at least one affected joint (Hinton 2002).  Many younger adults and children also have osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis involves cartilage degeneration and bone rubbing and is sometimes related to injury or repetitive motion trauma.

Osteoarthritis patients often develop pain and stiffness which can interfere with work, sleep and exercise.  As cartilage degenerates, the space between joints diminishes- which can cause further pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is especially common in knees, hips, feet, shoulders, hands, and distal (outer) joints on each finger. Oftentimes one or more joints are involved in an asymmetric manner (i.e., left side more affected than right or vice versa).  Osteoarthritis is more common among overweight individuals, among inactive persons, or among persons with histories of joint injuries.

A number of nutritional treatments exist to treat arthritis. The most commonly used arthritis supplements are chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate compounds are found in healthy joint tissue and often become depleted in osteoarthritis patients. Glucosamine and chrondroitin can be manufactured by humans from other dietary components, but research has indicated that older people manufacture significantly less of these compounds than younger people. Many studies have reported that glucosamine/chrondroitin supplements can restore normal levels of chrondroitin and glucosamine to the joints and significantly reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling of arthritic joints.  A recent analysis of 6 studies involving 1,502 knee arthritis patients reported that glucosamine and chrondrioin supplements were effective in reducing pain and stiffness.  The glucosamine and chrondriotin supplements also significantly reduced narrowing of joint space in the knee.  This research was published in the January 2010 Rheumatology International.

While glucosamine and chrondroitin are a safe and effective way of treating osteoarthritis, they have to be taken together at least daily over a period of several months to get any significant benefit. For maximum benefit, at least  1,200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfate and at least 1,2000  milligrams of glucosamine must also be taken together daily for maximum benefit.

Some studies have reported that other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B complex, C, E, magnesium, and zinc may be helpful to osteroarthritis patients.  Other studies have reported that supplements of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus and the amino acid s-Adenosyl-Methionine (sAME) may also reduce pain and stiffness in arthritis patients.

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