It is still not clear what the actions are of chondroitin sulfate when taken as a nutritional supplement. Purported effects are the promotion and maintenance of the structure and function of cartilage in the joints of the body. It has also been reported that chondroitin sulfate has anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects. The biochemistry has been known for some time. Chondroitin sulfate is a GAG, previously described in the glucosamine mechanisms. It is essential for the structure and function of articular cartilage and provides the same properties as hyaluronic acid. While intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid have been shown to relieve joint pain and improve mobility, the same has not yet been demonstrated for chondroitin sulfate. It is speculated that oral ingestion of chondroitin sulfate may lead to an increase in hyaluronic acid. Thus, cartilage breakdown would be inhibited.6
It has been shown that absorption is from the stomach and small intestine. High molecular weight forms are not significantly absorbed, while low molecular weight forms show significant absorption after oral ingestion. How much is taken into joints is not known for humans, while it is known that some does enter the joint space.
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