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What is chondroitin and how does it work?

Where glucosamine provides the building blocks to make more cartilage, Chondroitin acts like a "liquid magnet". It helps attract fluid into the cartilage. This is important for 2 main reasons:

(1) The fluid acts as a spongy shock absorber.
(2) The fluid sweeps nutrients into the cartilage.

The cartilage in the joints has no blood supply, so all of its nourishment and lubrication comes from the liquid that ebbs and flows, as pressure to the joint is applied and released. Without this fluid, cartilage would become malnourished, drier, thinner and more fragile.

Besides drawing in precious fluid, chondroitin also protects the existing cartilage from premature breakdown, by inhibiting the action of certain "cartilage-chewing" enzymes. It interferes with other enzymes that attempt to "starve" cartilage, by cutting off the transport of nutrients. As well as this, it works synergistically with glucosamine.

Can we get chondroitin from the food we eat?

Chondroitins are found in most animal tissues, especially in the gristle around joints. Some of the chondroitins we eat are absorbed into our bodies intact and incorporated into various tissues, including the cartilage in the joints. However, when there is actual damage to the cartilage, the body can find it hard to keep up with the production of the chondroitin. This is where supplementation comes in; we can replace what the body fails to make.


We recommend 1500-1600mg a day initially, building up to 2000mg a day. After 3 full months of supplementation, this dosage can be reduced to a maintenance dosage of 1200mg a day.

Because Chondroitin is attracting the fluid to the cartilage to make it more spongy, as well as protecting the existing cartilage, the more and longer you take it, the better the results will be. If you have had the problem for many years, you cannot expect results overnight. It could take many months of supplementation before you notice great results. But persevere. It will be worth it!

Are there any side effects or health ailments that you should not use chondroitin with?

There are no known side effects with Chondroitin. In a 6-year study, tracking people taking doses of 1.5 to 10 grams per day, there has been no toxicity reported. Chondroitin is not known to adversely interact with any medication or health complaint. However, in all cases of "self prescribing", seek advice from your health professional before starting.

Do I have to take chondroitin with glucosamine?

It is advisable that you do, because Glucosamine provides the building blocks to make more cartilage and Chondroitin attracts the fluid to the cartilage.

As well as this, we recommend using evening primrose oil and fish oil as well, for maximum results.

Healthyonline stock a number of products that contain both glucosamine and chondroitin e.g.

Joint Connection - Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM. Vegetarian option available.

Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM Joint Food Powder - Nutritional support to maintain healthy joints, ligaments and cartilage.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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