Several recently tested arthritis supplements contained unacceptably high levels of harmful lead. Many also failed to live up to their labels’ claims about amounts of beneficial ingredients.
Consumer Lab, the widely respected independent U.S. testing organization, recently compared 21 leading arthritis supplements formulas. All claimed to contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, two compounds widely known to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the painful result of the breakdown of cartilage between joints.
Of the 19 leading arthritis supplements that claimed to contain glucosamine and/or chondroitin, 26% failed testing. In addition to high levels of lead, some products contained excessive manganese. While manganese enhances bone formation, taking too much over long periods can lead to serious neurological side effects.
Many products failed to contain the levels of beneficial compounds claimed on their labels. Chondroitin sulfate came up short in several examples. Some contained only trace amounts while one measured none at all.
Some examples of failed products include:
• BioGenesis Nutraceuticals ArthroGenX contained only 5.6% of its claimed chondroitin, plus 2.81 mcg of lead per daily serving.
• Joint Strength Essentials by MegaFood had no detectable amount of chondroitin in the product. Plus, it was contaminated with 3.09 mcg of lead per daily serving of 3 capsules. The product also claimed to be “Vegetarian” yet listed “green lipped mussel” as an ingredient.
• Source Naturals Sodium Free Glucosamine Sulfate Powder was contaminated with 2.1 mcg of lead per daily serving of 1/4 tsp.
• Estroven Joint and Bone was contaminated with 2.1 mcg of lead per daily serving of four caplets. The caplets also failed to fully break apart in the 30 minute time period established by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for disintegration testing, suggesting that it may not fully release its ingredients.
Why do some products contain so much less chondroitin than claimed? According to Consumer Lab:
Real chondroitin is relatively expensive. An ingredient supplier might sell lower priced “chondroitin” to which compounds have been added. A manufacturer looking to cut corners might buy lower cost material “certified” with a non-specific test and, as a result, end up making products with no or little real chondroitin.
Unfortunately, when it comes to issues like purity, content, and additives, consumers must be wary. While supplements can be invaluable health resources, they’re not all created equal.