Glucosamine and chondroitin – the joint health duo.

14. February 2023 from Kea Blum
Glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate are essential for joint health.

If you get achy knees, twinges in your back or shoulder pain with every movement, your quality of life can suffer enormously. Many people ask themselves: what is the best way to counteract joint problems? In addition to a balanced, healthy diet, certain dietary supplements can also specifically support the health of cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments. In this article, we present two important examples of these in more detail: glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate.

Wear and tear as the most common cause of joint problems

Joint problems are usually caused by signs of wear and tear. If cartilage keeps degrading further and further, the bones begin to rub against each other. This can lead to pain, inflammation and limited mobility. The inflammation, in turn, can damage the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints.

This joint wear is also known as osteoarthritis. Although it tends to occur in old age, it can also affect young people. It can.for example, be caused by undue and/or excessive strain on the joints.

How do glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate work?

How can cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments be kept healthy for as long as possible? Two factors play an important role here: moderate exercise that is gentle on the joints and a good supply of vital substances – especially those that protect the cartilage. These include glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate, which are chondroprotective agents. These are substances that can inhibit cartilage degeneration.

Important information about glucosamine sulphate:

glucosamine sulphate is a highly concentrated simple sugar, more precisely an amino sugar. It is a natural component of joint lubrication (synovial fluid) and articular cartilage. For dietary supplements, glucosamine sulphate is mainly obtained from crayfish or algae.

Chondroitin sulphate:

chondroitin sulphate is naturally found in connective tissue, cartilage and bones. It is capable of binding large volumes of water. This benefits cartilage health, since cartilage consists of up to 80% water. As with glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate for dietary supplements is also obtained from crayfish or algae,. but may also be obtained from the cartilage tissue of cattle, pigs and chickens.

Note: people who are allergic to shellfish should give preference to dietary supplements containing glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate from algae. If derived from shellfish, manufacturers must provide information to this effect.

How glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate can promote joint health

The duo of glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate can have a variety of effects on the health of joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. A number of studies1 suggest that, especially in cases of osteoarthritis..., dietary supplements containing glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate

  • may be involved in the development of cartilage
  • may inhibit cartilage degradation
  • may promote the formation of synovial fluid (synovia). Synovia is a sliding film on the joint surfaces
  • that may promote the incorporation of proline into the body. The body needs proline to produce collagen. It is an important component of connective tissue and bones.
  • that may promote the formation of proteoglycans. They play an important cushioning and supporting function in cartilage tissue.
  • may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Glucsosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate: particularly effective when used together

Studies1,1a-c also show that the combination of glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate is particularly beneficial, including with regard to pain relief and improved function of the knee joints. This combination can even restore damaged cartilage and tendon tissue. Another large-scale study on knee osteoarthritis (GAIT2) came to similar conclusions. The combination of glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate improved the typical symptoms of osteoarthritis: pain, joint stiffness and reduced joint function. The effects were greatest in people with moderate to severe knee pain.

Tip: omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have a proven anti-inflammatory effect. In combination with glucosamine sulphate, they are better able to relieve joint pain than glucosamine sulphate alone. Morning joint stiffness also decreased to a greater extent in patients with osteoarthritis, who were taking both vital substances. These are the results of a randomised study3 from Germany.

Important selection criterion for dietary supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin can be found in two forms in dietary supplements: as hydrochloride or sulphate. However, the two forms are not equally effective. Since sulphates are considered to be more effective, dietary supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine sulphates are preferable.

Sulphates are salts of sulphuric acid. Sulphur, in turn, is an important component of connective tissue. According to the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC)4 there is no evidence for the efficacy of glucosamine hydrochloride. But that’s not all: there is stronger evidence that it is ineffective. By way of contrast, there are several studies that prove the efficacy of glucosamine sulphate.


joint health depends to a significant extent on how well the joints are supplied with vital substances. A balanced diet lays the foundation for healthy cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments. However, not all vital substances that promote the joints are contained in foods, including glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate. Administered via special dietary supplements, they can improve cartilage structure and slow down cartilage breakdown. Cartilage wear is the main cause of joint problems such as pain and limited mobility.

4Macfarlane G.L. et al. (2009): Complementary and alternative medicines for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. ARC Report 1/2009

Kea Blum

I am a freelance journalist and editor from Hamburg. By my side is my Australian Shepherd girl Maja and my husband. After my studies in ecotrophology and a PR and editorial traineeship, I started my own business. For more than four years, I have been looking after clients in the fields of nutrition and health. I still find it fascinating how much what we eat can affect our health. And I love to pass on this knowledge to others through my work.