Consumers who take a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement for joint health might be receiving surprising additional benefits: a healthier cardiovascular system and a longer life overall.

According to a new study, conducted by researchers at West Virginia University School of Medicine, this particular combination reduced overall mortality about as well as regular exercise.

The researchers reported that taking the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin every day for a year or longer was associated with a whopping 39 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine in November 2020. All cause mortality is defined as all of the deaths that occur in a population, regardless of the cause.

Surprising cardiovascular discovery

Taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement was also linked to a 65 percent reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths. That’s a category that includes deaths from stroke, coronary artery disease and heart disease—the biggest killer in the U.S.

Researchers stressed that the study was epidemiological in nature—as opposed to the more definitive clinical trial research—but hoped follow-up studies would duplicate the results.

Researchers also noted that the promising results should not be taken as advice to quit exercising.

“Does this mean that if you get off work at five o’clock one day, you should just skip the gym, take a glucosamine pill and go home instead?” said Dana King, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at West Virginia University, who led the study. “That’s not what we suggest. Keep exercising, but the thought that taking a pill would also be beneficial is intriguing.”

Study details

To conduct the study, Dr. King and his research partner, Jun Xiang—a West Virginia University health data analyst—assessed data from 16,686 adults who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010.

All of the participants were at least 40 years old. King and Xiang merged these data with 2015 mortality figures.

After controlling for various factors, such as age, smoking status and activity level, the researchers found that taking glucosamine supplements did provide substantial health benefits.

“Once we took everything into account, the impact was pretty significant,” King said.

Glucosamine with chondroitin is a widely used combination supplement used to treat osteoarthritis and joint pain. It is available without a prescription in the United States.

Though sometimes prescribed by doctors in lieu of pharmaceuticals, it is most often recommended by nutritional counselors and sport medicine coaches.

Both glucosamine and chondroitin are natural compounds found in cartilage.

An interesting back-story to the study is that King, himself, was a glucosamine supplement consumer before he initiated the study.

“I’m in a local cyclists’ club, and we go for rides on weekends,” he said. “One day I asked the other cyclists if they took glucosamine, and everyone did. And I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if this is really helpful?’ That’s how I got curious about it.”

Though acknowledging the research was just preliminary, King asserted it was helpful information for each supplement consumer to consider relative to his/her personal situation:

“In my view, it’s important that people know about this, so they can discuss the findings with their doctor and make an informed choice,” he said. “Glucosamine is over the counter, so it is readily available.”

A proven and effective blend of glucosamine and chondroitin can be found in Optimal Chronic by Optimal Health Systems.

Optimal Chronic includes both glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine HCL, along with chondroitin and other inflammation-fighting nutrients like yucca root.

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Sources: West Virginia University, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Science Daily.