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Almost everyone gets arthritis as they age. Legions of baby boomers and weekend warriors have boosted glucosamine and chondroitin sales into the stratosphere. People take these supplements to improve the health of joint surfaces and reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The body makes glucosamine and chondroitin naturally. These chemicals are vitally important to the health of the chondrocytes - the cartilage cells that cover the ends of bones. Glucosamine aids in the production of new cartilage, while chondroitin slows cartilage breakdown.
There are many studies on these compounds, but some experts feel the benefits of the supplements have been exaggerated. Researchers from the University of Utah- in a paper presented at the American College of Rheumatology in San Diego- found that the supplements reduced pain in those with severe arthritis, but had no effect in patients with only mild pain. The researchers said that while glucosaminechondroitin supplements won't cure arthritis, they would allow people to use less anti-inflammatory and pain medication.