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Chondroitin sulfate consists of repeating chains of molecules called mucopolysaccharides. Chondroitin sulfate is classified as a type of glycosaminoglycan; it is rich in sulfur and is related to glucosamine. Chondroitin sulfate is a major constituent of cartilage, providing structure, holding water and nutrients, and allowing other molecules to move through cartilage—an important property, as there is no blood supply to cartilage.

Chondroitin and similar compounds are present in the lining of blood vessels and the urinary bladder. They help prevent abnormal movement of blood, urine, or components across the barrier of the vessel or bladder wall. Part of chondroitin’s role in blood vessels is to prevent excessive blood clotting. However, it is unclear whether supplements of chondroitin are able to favorably affect blood clotting.

In addition, chondroitin sulfate may lower blood cholesterol levels. Older preliminary research showed that chondroitin sulfate may prevent atherosclerosis in animals and humans and may also prevent heart attacks in people who already have atherosclerosis. Animal studies indicate that chondroitin sulfate may promote healing of bone, which is consistent with the fact that the majority of glycosaminoglycans found in bone consist of chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate also appears to help restore joint function in people with osteoarthritis.

In what conditions might chondroitin sulfate be supportive?

  • atherosclerosis
  • high cholesterol
  • kidney stones
  • osteoarthritis