What's in Your Joint Care Supplement

No wonder glucosamine and chondroitin products are top-selling dietary supplements. This popular combination supplement offers exactly what modern nutrition should -- a safe and natural way to promote joint health rather than a short-term solution to mask the emanating discomfort often associated with overworked joints.

However, not all glucosamine and chondroitin products are created equal. The proliferation of this widely used dietary supplement has created a host of new products and a variety of formulations. Some experts believe the reason certain consumers are gaining a superior experience is because they are consuming a superior product.

"There are important factors, such as the quality of raw materials purchased and the level of manufacturing sophistication, that create a pretty wide spectrum regarding the purity and potency of dietary supplements that support joint health," explains Jason Theodosakis, M.D., a Tucson, Arizona physician and leading expert in the fields of sports medicine and joint health. "Consumers should read labels and seek physician recommendation when choosing joint care supplements."

According to Dr. Theodosakis, key points to consider when shopping for joint care supplements:

~ Quantity of Ingredients - Most studies have shown benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin when used in quantities of 1,500 mg and 1,200 mg respectively. Some studies on chondroitin indicate effectiveness in amounts as small as 800 mg. Read the label first and choose a product with at least 800 mg of chondroitin.

~ Quality of Ingredients - Some companies charge less for their product because they spend less on the raw materials they purchase. However, as Dr. Theodosakis explains in his book, The Arthritis Cure, "It doesn't matter how cheap the product is -- you're not getting a bargain if the product is ineffective."

~ Manufacturing Process - Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) plays an important role in the production of an effective product. Better companies test their raw materials upon receipt, and retest multiple times during the manufacturing process to be sure that the final product contains exactly what is listed on the label. In fact, top companies work with independent laboratories to monitor their facilities and randomly test finished products.

~ Doctor Recommendation - Many physicians are taking a keener interest in dietary supplements, primarily due to the success stories they are hearing from patients and colleagues. Your physician may be able to point you to a trusted product and may even provide samples and money-saving coupons. It's always a good practice to consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement and to look for a brand that is "doctor-recommended."

~ Other Ingredients - While the majority of research supporting joint care supplements has been conducted with glucosamine and chondroitin, other ingredients also show promise to provide joint care support. Specifically, these are MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) and Boswellia Serrata. MSM, organic sulfur, is a mineral that is vital in the formation of collagen, connective tissue, and healthy joint cartilage. Boswellia Serrata, also known as Indian frankincense, in combination with other ingredients, has been found to improve joint comfort.

As people continue to reap the benefits of Joint Care Supplements, the number of products to choose from will likely also expand. Before purchasing a product, it's a good idea to contact the manufacturer and ask some tough questions. If the product package does not provide contact information (i.e., toll-free number or e-mail address), you may wish to consider another brand. Dietary supplements that support joint health can cost a bit more than other supplements and product quality does vary significantly, so shop carefully and choose a product with confidence.

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