One of the reasons many of these products don’t work is because some brands contain only tiny amounts of these supposedly active ingredients. Researchers from the University of Maryland, for example, have released alarming evidence showing that many glucosamine chondroitin supplements don’t contain what they’re supposed to.
The University of Maryland research team found that 26 of the 32 products they tested contained less than 90% of the chondroitin sulfate stated on the label. In fact, 17 of the 32 products tested contained less than 40% of the chondroitin sulfate stated on the label, and only 5 out of 32 products contained the labelled amount of chondroitin sulfate. What’s more, in two of the products there was also a large variation in the amount of chondroitin sulfate found in each capsule. This means that you can’t be sure how much chondroitin you’re getting with each dose.
It’s also important to note that not all chondroitin sulfates are identical, differing widely in molecular weight. Four of five batches of the raw material used to make the products exhibited poor “permeability”, making them less likely to be absorbed in the human body. In other words, even capsules containing the right amount of chondroitin will offer little relief against joint pain if they’re made with inferior raw materials. While most consumers assume that supplements costing more are higher in quality, this isn’t always the case. Although many of the worst performers were the cheapest, two of the most expensive products contained almost no chondroitin. Many people choose to buy their supplements based on price, selecting the cheapest one they can find. However, to get the right ingredients in the potencies and dosages used in the research often costs a lot of money. Even though you might see similar products advertised at lower prices, it’s always best to use a brand you can trust and rely on.
Personally my favourite glucosamine & chondroitin product is a brand called Ache-Free. They are the only brand that test every batch by independent analysis for potency and purity and drug screen each batch to ensure there are no contaminants that could cause a problem in WADA /IOC tested elite athletes.
Adebowale, A., Cox, D.S., Liang, Z., & Eddington, N.D. (2000). Analysis of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate content in marketed products and the Caco-2 permeability of chondroitin sulfate raw materials. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, 3, 37-44