An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure!

Chasteberry

Buried Treasure Women's Change - 16 Fl Oz

Background

  • Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, which is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region.
  • The plant was believed to promote chastity (hence its name). Monks in the Middle Ages reportedly used it to decrease sexual desire.
  • Chasteberry was also used for reproductive disorders.
  • Today, chasteberry is used as a dietary supplement for menstrual problems, menopause symptoms, infertility, and other conditions.
  • Chasteberry is available as a liquid extract, capsules, tablets, and an essential oil.

How Much Do We Know?

  • There’s not a lot of strong research on the effectiveness of chasteberry for any condition. We do have some clear safety information on the herb.

What Have We Learned?

  • A few preliminary studies found that chasteberry may improve some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome but the evidence isn’t firm.
  • Researchers have studied chasteberry for breast pain and infertility, but there isn’t enough reliable scientific evidence to know if it helps.
  • There’s no evidence that chasteberry helps with menopausal symptoms.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • When used in limited amounts, chasteberry appears to be generally well tolerated. Few side effects have been reported.
  • Women on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
  • People taking dopamine-related medications, such as certain antipsychotic drugs and Parkinson’s disease medications should avoid using chasteberry.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

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Adora Calcium Supplement Disk - Organic - Dark Chocolate - 30 Ct - 1 Case

 

Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness.

The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.

How much calcium do I need?

The amount of calcium you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg):

Life Stage Recommended Amount
Birth to 6 months 200 mg
Infants 7–12 months 260 mg
Children 1–3 years 700 mg
Children 4–8 years 1,000 mg
Children 9–13 years 1,300 mg
Teens 14–18 years 1,300 mg
Adults 19–50 years 1,000 mg
Adult men 51–70 years 1,000 mg
Adult women 51–70 years 1,200 mg
Adults 71 years and older 1,200 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens 1,300 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding adults 1,000 mg

 

What foods provide calcium?

Calcium is found in many foods. You can get recommended amounts of calcium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese are the main food sources of calcium for the majority of people in the United States.
  • Kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are fine vegetable sources of calcium.
  • Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as canned sardines and salmon, are fine animal sources of calcium.
  • Most grains (such as breads, pastas, and unfortified cereals), while not rich in calcium, add significant amounts of calcium to the diet because people eat them often or in large amounts.
  • Calcium is added to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and tofu. To find out whether these foods have calcium, check the product labels.

What kinds of calcium dietary supplements are available?

Calcium is found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements, though the amount varies by product. Dietary supplements that contain only calcium or calcium with other nutrients such as vitamin D are also available. Check the Supplement Facts label to determine the amount of calcium provided.

The two main forms of calcium dietary supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is inexpensive, but is absorbed best when taken with food. Some over-the-counter antacid products, such as Tums® and Rolaids®, contain calcium carbonate. Each pill or chew provides 200–400 mg of calcium. Calcium citrate, a more expensive form of the supplement, is absorbed well on an empty or a full stomach. In addition, people with low levels of stomach acid (a condition more common in people older than 50) absorb calcium citrate more easily than calcium carbonate. Other forms of calcium in supplements and fortified foods include gluconate, lactate, and phosphate.

Calcium absorption is best when a person consumes no more than 500 mg at one time. So a person who takes 1,000 mg/day of calcium from supplements, for example, should split the dose rather than take it all at once.

Calcium supplements may cause gas, bloating, and constipation in some people. If any of these symptoms occur, try spreading out the calcium dose throughout the day, taking the supplement with meals, or changing the supplement brand or calcium form you take.

Am I getting enough calcium?

Many people don’t get recommended amounts of calcium from the foods they eat, including:

  • Boys aged 9 to 13 years,
  • Girls aged 9 to 18 years,
  • Women older than 50 years,
  • Men older than 70 years.

When total intakes from both food and supplements are considered, many people—particularly adolescent girls—still fall short of getting enough calcium, while some older women likely get more than the upper limit. See our Health Professional Fact Sheet on Calcium for more details.

Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough calcium:

  • Postmenopausal women because they experience greater bone loss and do not absorb calcium as well. Sufficient calcium intake from food, and supplements if needed, can slow the rate of bone loss.
  • Women of childbearing age whose menstrual periods stop (amenorrhea) because they exercise heavily, eat too little, or both. They need sufficient calcium to cope with the resulting decreased calcium absorption, increased calcium losses in the urine, and slowdown in the formation of new bone.
  • People with lactose intolerance cannot digest this natural sugar found in milk and experience symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea when they drink more than small amounts at a time. They usually can eat other calcium-rich dairy products that are low in lactose, such as yogurt and many cheeses, and drink lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk.
  • Vegans (vegetarians who eat no animal products) and ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who eat eggs but no dairy products), because they avoid the dairy products that are a major source of calcium in other people’s diets.

Many factors can affect the amount of calcium absorbed from the digestive tract, including:

  • Age. Efficiency of calcium absorption decreases as people age. Recommended calcium intakes are higher for people over age 70.
  • Vitamin D intake. This vitamin, present in some foods and produced in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight, increases calcium absorption.
  • Other components in food. Both oxalic acid (in some vegetables and beans) and phytic acid (in whole grains) can reduce calcium absorption. People who eat a variety of foods don’t have to consider these factors. They are accounted for in the calcium recommended intakes, which take absorption into account.

Many factors can also affect how much calcium the body eliminates in urine, feces, and sweat. These include consumption of alcohol- and caffeine-containing beverages as well as intake of other nutrients (protein, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus). In most people, these factors have little effect on calcium status.

What happens if I don’t get enough calcium?

Insufficient intakes of calcium do not produce obvious symptoms in the short term because the body maintains calcium levels in the blood by taking it from bone. Over the long term, intakes of calcium below recommended levels have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Symptoms of serious calcium deficiency include numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to death if not corrected. These symptoms occur almost always in people with serious health problems or who are undergoing certain medical treatments.

What are some effects of calcium on health?

Scientists are studying calcium to understand how it affects health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown:

Bone health and osteoporosis

Bones need plenty of calcium and vitamin D throughout childhood and adolescence to reach their peak strength and calcium content by about age 30. After that, bones slowly lose calcium, but people can help reduce these losses by getting recommended amounts of calcium throughout adulthood and by having a healthy, active lifestyle that includes weight-bearing physical activity (such as walking and running).

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones in older adults (especially women) in which the bones become porous, fragile, and more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis is a serious public health problem for more than 10 million adults over the age of 50 in the United States. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes as well as regular exercise are essential to keep bones healthy throughout life.

Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of breaking a bone and the risk of falling in frail, elderly adults who live in nursing homes and similar facilities. But it’s not clear if the supplements help prevent bone fractures and falls in older people who live at home.

Cancer

Studies have examined whether calcium supplements or diets high in calcium might lower the risks of developing cancer of the colon or rectum or increase the risk of prostate cancer. The research to date provides no clear answers. Given that cancer develops over many years, longer term studies are needed.

Cardiovascular disease

Some studies show that getting enough calcium might decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. Other studies find that high amounts of calcium, particularly from supplements, might increase the risk of heart disease. But when all the studies are considered together, scientists have concluded that as long as intakes are not above the upper limit, calcium from food or supplements will not increase or decrease the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure

Some studies have found that getting recommended intakes of calcium can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). One large study in particular found that eating a diet high in fat-free and low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and fruits lowered blood pressure.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and kidney problems that cause protein to spill into the urine. It is a leading cause of sickness and death in pregnant women and their newborn babies. For women who get less than about 900 mg of calcium a day, taking calcium supplements during pregnancy (1,000 mg a day or more) reduces the risk of preeclampsia. But most women in the United States who become pregnant get enough calcium from their diets.

Kidney stones

Most kidney stones are rich in calcium oxalate. Some studies have found that higher intakes of calcium from dietary supplements are linked to a greater risk of kidney stones, especially among older adults. But calcium from foods does not appear to cause kidney stones. For most people, other factors (such as not drinking enough fluids) probably have a larger effect on the risk of kidney stones than calcium intake.

Weight loss

Although several studies have shown that getting more calcium helps lower body weight or reduce weight gain over time, most studies have found that calcium—from foods or dietary supplements—has little if any effect on body weight and amount of body fat.

For more information on calcium and weight loss, see our consumer fact sheet on Weight Loss.

Can calcium be harmful?

Getting too much calcium can cause constipation. It might also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc, but this effect is not well established. In adults, too much calcium (from dietary supplements but not food) might increase the risk of kidney stones. Some studies show that people who consume high amounts of calcium might have increased risks of prostate cancer and heart disease, but more research is needed to understand these possible links.

The upper limits for calcium are listed below. Most people do not get amounts above the upper limits from food alone; excess intakes usually come from the use of calcium supplements. Surveys show that some older women in the United States probably get amounts somewhat above the upper limit since the use of calcium supplements is common among these women.

Life Stage Upper Limit
Birth to 6 months 1,000 mg
Infants 7–12 months 1,500 mg
Children 1–8 years 2,500 mg
Children 9–18 years 3,000 mg
Adults 19–50 years 2,500 mg
Adults 51 years and older 2,000 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens 3,000 mg
Pregnant and breastfeeding adults 2,500 mg

Are there any interactions with calcium that I should know about?

Calcium dietary supplements can interact or interfere with certain medicines that you take, and some medicines can lower or raise calcium levels in the body. Here are some examples:

  • Calcium can reduce the absorption of these drugs when taken together:
    • Bisphosphonates (to treat osteoporosis)
    • Antibiotics of the fluoroquinolone and tetracycline families
    • Levothyroxine (to treat low thyroid activity)
    • Phenytoin (an anticonvulsant)
    • Tiludronate disodium (to treat Paget’s disease).
  • Diuretics differ in their effects. Thiazide-type diuretics (such as Diuril® and Lozol®) reduce calcium excretion by the kidneys which in turn can raise blood calcium levels too high. But loop diuretics (such as Lasix® and Bumex®) increase calcium excretion and thereby lower blood calcium levels.
  • Antacids containing aluminum or magnesium increase calcium loss in the urine.
  • Mineral oil and stimulant laxatives reduce calcium absorption.
  • Glucocorticoids (such as prednisone) can cause calcium depletion and eventually osteoporosis when people use them for months at a time.

Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

Calcium and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food, advises the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlateexternal link disclaimer.

Where can I find out more about calcium?

Disclaimer

This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Updated: November 17, 2016

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Cascara is a shrub. The dried bark is used to make medicine.

Cascara used to be approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for constipation. However, over the years, concerns were raised about cascara’s safety and effectiveness. The FDA gave manufacturers the chance to submit safety and effectiveness information to answer these concerns. But the companies decided the cost of conducting safety and effectiveness studies would likely be more than the profit they could expect from sales of cascara. So they didn’t comply with the request. As a result, the FDA notified manufacturers to remove or reformulate all OTC laxative products containing cascara from the U.S. market by November 5, 2002. Today, you can buy cascara as a “dietary supplement,” but not as a drug. “Dietary supplements” don’t have to meet the standards that the FDA applies to OTC or prescription drugs.

Cascara is used as a laxative for constipation, as well as a treatment for gallstones, liver ailments, and cancer. Some people use it as a “bitter tonic.”

In foods and beverages, a bitterless extract of cascara is sometimes used as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, cascara is used in the processing of some sunscreens.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for CASCARA are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Constipation. Cascara has laxative effects and may help relieve constipation in some people.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Bowel preparation before colonoscopy. Most research shows that taking cascara along with magnesium sulfate or milk of magnesia does not improve bowel cleansing in people who are undergoing a colonoscopy.

How does it work?

Cascara contains chemicals that stimulate the bowel and have a laxative effect.

Are there safety concerns?

Cascara is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth for less than one week. Side effects include stomach discomfort and cramps.

Cascara is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used long-term. Don’t use cascara for longer than one or two weeks. Long-term use can cause more serious side effects including dehydration; low levels of potassium, sodium, chloride, and other “electrolytes” in the blood; heart problems; muscle weakness; and others.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of cascara during pregnancy. Stay on the safe side and avoid use if you are pregnant. Cascara is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth while breast-feeding. Cascara can cross into breast milk and might cause diarrhea in a nursing infant.

Children: Cascara is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in children when taken by mouth. Don’t give cascara to children. They are more likely than adults to become dehydrated and also harmed by the loss of electrolytes, especially potassium.

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, stomach ulcers, or unexplained stomach pain: People with any of these conditions should not use cascara.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Cascara is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the risk of side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).
Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids)
Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Cascara is a type of laxative that might also decrease potassium in the body. Taking cascara along with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some medications for inflammation include dexamethasone (Decadron), hydrocortisone (Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Deltasone), and others.

Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)
Cascara is a laxative. Laxatives can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. Decreasing how much medicine your body absorbs can decrease the effectiveness of your medication.
Stimulant laxatives
Cascara is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Taking cascara along with other stimulant laxatives could speed up the bowels too much and cause dehydration and low minerals in the body.

Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)
Cascara can work as a laxative. In some people cascara can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin, do not take excessive amounts of cascara.
Water pills (Diuretic drugs)
Cascara is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. “Water pills” can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking cascara along with “water pills” might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some “water pills” that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Chromium-containing herbs and supplements
Cascara contains chromium and could increase the risk of chromium poisoning when taken with chromium supplements or chromium-containing herbs such as bilberry, brewer’s yeast, or horsetail.
Herbs that contain cardiac-glycosides
Cardiac glycosides are chemicals that are similar to the prescription drug digoxin. Cardiac glycosides can cause the body to lose potassium.

Cascara can also cause the body to lose potassium because it is a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. As a result, food may not remain in the intestine long enough for the body to absorb minerals such as potassium. This can lead to lower than ideal potassium levels.

Using cascara along with an herb that contains cardiac glycosides can cause the body to lose too much potassium, and this can cause heart damage. Herbs that contain cardiac glycosides include black hellebore, Canadian hemp roots, digitalis leaf, hedge mustard, figwort, lily of the valley roots, motherwort, oleander leaf, pheasant’s eye plant, pleurisy root, squill bulb leaf scales, star of Bethlehem, strophanthus seeds, and uzara. Avoid using cascara with any of these.

Horsetail
Horsetail increases the production of urine (acts as a diuretic) and this can cause the body to lose potassium.

Cascara can also cause the body to lose potassium because it is a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. As a result, food may not remain in the intestine long enough for the body to absorb minerals such as potassium. This can lead to lower than ideal potassium levels.

If potassium levels drop too low, the heart may be damaged. There is a concern that using horsetail with cascara increases the risk of losing too much potassium and increases the risk of heart damage. Avoid using cascara with horsetail.

Licorice
Licorice causes the body to lose potassium.

Cascara can also cause the body to lose potassium because it is a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. As a result, food may not remain in the intestine long enough for the body to absorb minerals such as potassium. This can lead to lower than ideal potassium levels.

If potassium levels drop too low, the heart may be damaged. There is a concern that using licorice with cascara increases the risk of losing too much potassium and increases the risk of heart damage. Avoid using cascara with licorice.

Stimulant laxative herbs
Cascara is a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. As a result, food may not remain in the intestine long enough for the body to absorb minerals such as potassium. This can lead to lower than ideal potassium levels.

There is a concern that taking cascara along with other stimulant laxatives herbs can make potassium levels drop too low, and this can harm the heart. Other stimulant laxative herbs are aloe, alder buckthorn, black root, blue flag, butternut bark, colocynth, European buckthorn, fo ti, gamboge, gossypol, greater bindweed, jalap, manna, Mexican scammony root, rhubarb, senna, and yellow dock. Avoid using cascara with any of these.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • As a laxative for constipation: 20-30 mg per day of the active ingredient (hydroxyanthracene derivatives). A typical dose is 1 cup of tea, which is made by steeping 2 grams of finely chopped bark in 150 mL of boiling water for 5-10 minutes, and then straining. The cascara liquid extract is taken in a dose of 2-5 mL three times daily. The appropriate amount of cascara is the smallest dose that is needed to maintain soft stools.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Chang, L. C., Sheu, H. M., Huang, Y. S., Tsai, T. R., and Kuo, K. W. A novel function of emodin: enhancement of the nucleotide excision repair of UV- and cisplatin-induced DNA damage in human cells. Biochem Pharmacol 1999;58:49-57.
  2. Chang, C. J., Ashendel, C. L., Geahlen, R. L., McLaughlin, J. L., and Waters, D. J. Oncogene signal transduction inhibitors from medicinal plants. In Vivo 1996;10:185-190.
  3. Chen, H. C., Hsieh, W. T., Chang, W. C., and Chung, J. G. Aloe-emodin induced in vitro G2/M arrest of cell cycle in human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells. Food Chem Toxicol 2004;42:1251-1257.

Palm Oil- What is it?

palm-oil

What is it?

Palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree.

Palm oil is used for preventing vitamin A deficiency, cancer, brain disease, aging; and treating malaria, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cyanide poisoning. Palm oil is used for weight loss and increasing the body’s metabolism.

As food, palm oil is used for frying.

Industrially, palm oil is used for manufacturing cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste, waxes, lubricants, and ink.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PALM OIL are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Preventing a lack of vitamin A (vitamin A deficiency). There is some evidence that adding palm oil to the diet of pregnant women and children in developing countries might reduce the risk of developing vitamin A deficiency.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • High cholesterol. Consuming palm oil as part of a specific diet plan does not seem to reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. In fact, some research suggests that palm oil might actually increase cholesterol levels compared to other oils, such as soybean, canola, or sunflower oil.
  • Malaria. Some research suggests that dietary consumption of palm oil by children under 5 years of age in developing countries does not seem to decrease symptoms of malaria.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • High blood pressure.
  • Cyanide poisoning.
  • Weight loss agent.
  • Cancer.
  • Anti-aging.
  • Brain disease.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of palm oil for these uses.

How does it work?

Palm oil contains saturated and unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. It might have antioxidant effects.

Are there safety concerns?

Palm oil is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as medicine by children or adults for up to 6 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Palm oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken as a medicine during pregnancy for up to 6 months.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Palm oil might increase blood clotting. Taking palm oil along with medications that slow clotting might reduce the effectiveness of these medications.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox) heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Beta-carotene
Palm oil contains beta-carotene. There is some concern that taking beta-carotene supplements along with palm oil might result in too much beta-carotene and an increased risk of harmful side effects.
Vitamin A
Palm oil contains beta-carotene, which is a building block of vitamin A. There is some concern that taking a vitamin A or beta-carotene supplement along with palm oil might result in too much vitamin A and an increased risk of harmful side effects.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For preventing vitamin A deficiency: about 3 tablespoons (9 grams) per day of palm oil for adults and children over age 5. About 4 tablespoons (12 grams) per day for pregnant women. For children less than 5 years old, 2 tablespoons (6 grams) per day.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Alfatni, M. S. M., Shariff, A. R. M., Shafri, H. Z. M., Ben Saaed, O. M., and Eshanta, O. M. Oil Palm Fruit Bunch Grading System Using Red, Green and Blue Digital Number. Journal of Applied Sciences 2008;8:1444-1452.
  2. Pletcher, J. Public interventions in agricultural markets in Malaysia: rice and palm oil. Modern Asian Studies 1990;24:323-340.
  3. Hinds, E. A. Government policy and the Nigerian palm oil export industry, 1939-49. Journal of African History 1997;38:459-478.

Chromium What is it?

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BURIED TREASURE MINERALS

BURIED TREASURE ACTIVE 55

NATROL CHROMIUM

 

Chromium: What is it?

Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well defined. It is found primarily in two forms: 1) trivalent (chromium 3+), which is biologically active and found in food, and 2) hexavalent (chromium 6+), a toxic form that results from industrial pollution. This fact sheet focuses exclusively on trivalent (3+) chromium.

Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin [1-3], a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body [4]. In 1957, a compound in brewers’ yeast was found to prevent an age-related decline in the ability of rats to maintain normal levels of sugar (glucose) in their blood [3]. Chromium was identified as the active ingredient in this so-called “glucose tolerance factor” in 1959 [5].

Chromium also appears to be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism [1-2,6-11], but more research is needed to determine the full range of its roles in the body. The challenges to meeting this goal include:

  • Defining the types of individuals who respond to chromium supplementation;
  • Evaluating the chromium content of foods and its bioavailability;
  • Determining if a clinically relevant chromium-deficiency state exists in humans due to inadequate dietary intakes; and
  • Developing valid and reliable measures of chromium status [9].

What foods provide chromium?

Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts (less than 2 micrograms [mcg] per serving). Meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables, and spices are relatively good sources [12]. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in chromium [13].

Dietary intakes of chromium cannot be reliably determined because the content of the mineral in foods is substantially affected by agricultural and manufacturing processes and perhaps by contamination with chromium when the foods are analyzed [10,12,14]. Therefore, Table 1, and food-composition databases generally, provide approximate values of chromium in foods that should only serve as a guide.

Table 1: Selected food sources of chromium [12,15-16]
Food Chromium (mcg)
Broccoli, ½ cup 11
Grape juice, 1 cup 8
English muffin, whole wheat, 1 4
Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup 3
Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon 3
Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon 2
Beef cubes, 3 ounces 2
Orange juice, 1 cup 2
Turkey breast, 3 ounces 2
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices 2
Red wine, 5 ounces 1–13
Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium 1
Banana, 1 medium 1
Green beans, ½ cup 1

What are recommended intakes of chromium?

Recommended chromium intakes are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences [14]. Dietary Reference Intakes is the general term for a set of reference values to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values include the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and the Adequate Intake (AI). The RDA is the average daily intake that meets a nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals [14]. An AI is established when there is insufficient research to establish an RDA; it is generally set at a level that healthy people typically consume.

In 1989, the National Academy of Sciences established an “estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake” range for chromium. For adults and adolescents that range was 50 to 200 mcg [17]. In 2001, DRIs for chromium were established. The research base was insufficient to establish RDAs, so AIs were developed based on average intakes of chromium from food as found in several studies [14]. Chromium AIs are provided in Table 2.

Table 2: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for chromium [14]
Age Infants and children
(mcg/day)
Males
(mcg/day)
Females
(mcg/day)
Pregnancy
(mcg/day)
Lactation
(mcg/day)
0 to 6 months 0.2
7 to 12 months 5.5
1 to 3 years 11
4 to 8 years 15
9 to 13 years 25 21
14 to 18 years 35 24 29 44
19 to 50 years 35 25 30 45
>50 years 30 20

mcg = micrograms

Adult women in the United States consume about 23 to 29 mcg of chromium per day from food, which meets their AIs unless they’re pregnant or lactating. In contrast, adult men average 39 to 54 mcg per day, which exceeds their AIs [14].

The average amount of chromium in the breast milk of healthy, well-nourished mothers is 0.24 mcg per quart, so infants exclusively fed breast milk obtain about 0.2 mcg (based on an estimated consumption of 0.82 quarts per day) [14]. Infant formula provides about 0.5 mcg of chromium per quart [18]. No studies have compared how well infants absorb and utilize chromium from human milk and formula [10,14].

What affects chromium levels in the body?

Absorption of chromium from the intestinal tract is low, ranging from less than 0.4% to 2.5% of the amount consumed [19-25], and the remainder is excreted in the feces [1,23]. Enhancing the mineral’s absorption are vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables and their juices) and the B vitamin niacin (found in meats, poultry, fish, and grain products) [26]. Absorbed chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bone [27].

The body’s chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars (comprising more than 35% of calories) can increase chromium excretion in the urine [13]. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation, and stressful states (such as physical trauma) increase chromium losses and can lead to deficiency, especially if chromium intakes are already low [28-29].

When can a chromium deficiency occur?

In the 1960s, chromium was found to correct glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in deficient animals, two indicators that the body is failing to properly control blood-sugar levels and which are precursors of type 2 diabetes [1]. However, reports of actual chromium deficiency in humans are rare. Three hospitalized patients who were fed intravenously showed signs of diabetes (including weight loss, neuropathy, and impaired glucose tolerance) until chromium was added to their feeding solution. The chromium, added at doses of 150 to 250 mcg/day for up to two weeks, corrected their diabetes symptoms [7,30-31]. Chromium is now routinely added to intravenous solutions.

Who may need extra chromium?

There are reports of significant age-related decreases in the chromium concentrations of hair, sweat and blood [32], which might suggest that older people are more vulnerable to chromium depletion than younger adults [14]. One cannot be sure, however, as chromium status is difficult to determine [33]. That’s because blood, urine, and hair levels do not necessarily reflect body stores [9,14]. Furthermore, no chromium-specific enzyme or other biochemical marker has been found to reliably assess a person’s chromium status [9,34].

There is considerable interest in the possibility that supplemental chromium may help to treat impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, but the research to date is inconclusive. No large, randomized, controlled clinical trials testing this hypothesis have been reported in the United States [14]. Nevertheless, this is an active area of research.

What are some current issues and controversies about chromium?

Chromium has long been of interest for its possible connection to various health conditions. Among the most active areas of chromium research are its use in supplement form to treat diabetes, lower blood lipid levels, promote weight loss, and improve body composition.

Type 2 diabetes and glucose intolerance

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin but, for unknown reasons, the body cannot use the insulin effectively. The disease typically occurs, in part, because the cells comprising muscle and other tissues become resistant to insulin’s action, especially among the obese. Insulin permits the entry of glucose into most cells, where this sugar is used for energy, stored in the liver and muscles (as glycogen), and converted to fat when present in excess. Insulin resistance leads to higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).

Chromium deficiency impairs the body’s ability to use glucose to meet its energy needs and raises insulin requirements. It has therefore been suggested that chromium supplements might help to control type 2 diabetes or the glucose and insulin responses in persons at high risk of developing the disease. A review of randomized controlled clinical trials evaluated this hypothesis [35]. This meta-analysis assessed the effects of chromium supplements on three markers of diabetes in the blood: glucose, insulin, and glycated hemoglobin (which provides a measure of long-term glucose levels; also known as hemoglobin A1C). It summarized data from 15 trials on 618 participants, of which 425 were in good health or had impaired glucose tolerance and 193 had type 2 diabetes. Chromium supplementation had no effect on glucose or insulin concentrations in subjects without diabetes nor did it reduce these levels in subjects with diabetes, except in one study. However, that study, conducted in China (in which 155 subjects with diabetes were given either 200 or 1,000 mcg/day of chromium or a placebo) might simply show the benefits of supplementation in a chromium-deficient population.

Overall, the value of chromium supplements for diabetes is inconclusive and controversial [36]. Randomized controlled clinical trials in well-defined, at-risk populations where dietary intakes are known are necessary to determine the effects of chromium on markers of diabetes [35]. The American Diabetes Association states that there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of chromium to improve glycemic control in people with diabetes [37]. It further notes that there is no clear scientific evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation benefits people with diabetes who do not have underlying nutritional deficiencies.

Lipid metabolism

The effects of chromium supplementation on blood lipid levels in humans are also inconclusive [1,8,38]. In some studies, 150 to 1,000 mcg/day has decreased total and low-density-lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increased concentrations of apolipoprotein A (a component of high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol known as HDL or “good” cholesterol) in subjects with atherosclerosis or elevated cholesterol or among those taking a beta-blocker drug [39-41]. These findings are consistent with the results of earlier studies [42-45].

However, chromium supplements have shown no favorable effects on blood lipids in other studies [46-51]. The mixed research findings may be due to difficulties in determining the chromium status of subjects at the start of the trials and the researchers’ failure to control for dietary factors that influence blood lipid levels [9-10].

Body weight and composition

Chromium supplements are sometimes claimed to reduce body fat and increase lean (muscle) mass. Yet a recent review of 24 studies that examined the effects of 200 to 1,000 mcg/day of chromium (in the form of chromium picolinate) on body mass or composition found no significant benefits [11]. Another recent review of randomized, controlled clinical trials did find supplements of chromium picolinate to help with weight loss when compared wtth placebos, but the differences were small and of debatable clinical relevance [52]. In several studies, chromium’s effects on body weight and composition may be called into question because the researchers failed to adequately control for the participants’ food intakes. Furthermore, most studies included only a small number of subjects and were of short duration [36].

For additional information on chromium and body weight, see our health professional fact sheet on Weight Loss.

What are the health risks of too much chromium?

Few serious adverse effects have been linked to high intakes of chromium, so the Institute of Medicine has not established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for this mineral [10,14]. A UL is the maximum daily intake of a nutrient that is unlikely to cause adverse health effects. It is one of the values (together with the RDA and AI) that comprise the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for each nutrient.

Chromium and medication interactions

Certain medications may interact with chromium, especially when taken on a regular basis (see Table 3). Before taking dietary supplements, check with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, especially if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Table 3: Interactions between chromium and medications [14,53-55]
Medications Nature of interaction
  • Antacids
  • Corticosteroids
  • H2 blockers (such as cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and rantidine)
  • Proton-pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, and esomeprazole)
These medications alter stomach acidity and may impair chromium absorption or enhance excretion
  • Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Insulin
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Prostaglandin inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin)
These medications may have their effects enhanced if taken together with chromium or they may increase chromium absorption

Supplemental sources of chromium

Chromium is a widely used supplement. Estimated sales to consumers were $85 million in 2002, representing 5.6% of the total mineral-supplement market [56]. Chromium is sold as a single-ingredient supplement as well as in combination formulas, particularly those marketed for weight loss and performance enhancement. Supplement doses typically range from 50 to 200 mcg.

The safety and efficacy of chromium supplements need more investigation. Please consult with a doctor or other trained healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements.

Chromium supplements are available as chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium citrate. Chromium chloride in particular appears to have poor bioavailability [36]. However, given the limited data on chromium absorption in humans, it is not clear which forms are best to take.

Chromium and Healthful Diets

The federal government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. … Foods in nutrient-dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts.”

For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlateexternal link disclaimer.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy eating pattern as one that:

  • Includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, and oils.
    Whole grain products and certain fruits and vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, grape juice, and oranges are sources of chromium. Ready-to-eat bran cereals can also be a relatively good source of chromium.
  • Includes a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
    Lean beef, oysters, eggs, and turkey are sources of chromium.
  • Limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs.

References

  1. Mertz W. Chromium occurrence and function in biological systems. Physiol Rev 1969;49:163-239.
  2. Mertz W. Chromium in human nutrition: a review. J Nutr 1993;123:626-33.
  3. Mertz W. Interaction of chromium with insulin: a progress report. Nutr Rev 1998;56:174-7.
  4. Porte Jr. D, Sherwin RS, Baron A (editors). Ellengerg & Rifkin’s Diabetes Mellitus, 6th Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.
  5. Schwarz K, Mertz W. Chromium(III) and the glucose tolerance factor. Arch Biochem Biophys 1959;85:292-5.

Magnesium

 

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What is magnesium and what does it do?

Magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA.

How much magnesium do I need?

The amount of magnesium you need depends on your age and sex. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg):

Life Stage Recommended Amount
Birth to 6 months 30 mg
Infants 7–12 months 75 mg
Children 1–3 years 80 mg
Children 4–8 years 130 mg
Children 9–13 years 240 mg
Teen boys 14–18 years 410 mg
Teen girls 14–18 years 360 mg
Men 400–420 mg
Women 310–320 mg
Pregnant teens 400 mg
Pregnant women 350–360 mg
Breastfeeding teens 360 mg
Breastfeeding women 310–320 mg

What foods provide magnesium?

Magnesium is found naturally in many foods and is added to some fortified foods. You can get recommended amounts of magnesium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
  • Milk, yogurt, and some other milk products

What kinds of magnesium dietary supplements are available?

Magnesium is available in multivitamin-mineral supplements and other dietary supplements. Forms of magnesium in dietary supplements that are more easily absorbed by the body are magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium chloride.

Magnesium is also included in some laxatives and some products for treating heartburn and indigestion.

Am I getting enough magnesium?

The diets of most people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium. When the amount of magnesium people get from food and dietary supplements is combined, however, total intakes of magnesium are generally above recommended amounts.

What happens if I don’t get enough magnesium?

In the short term, getting too little magnesium does not produce obvious symptoms. When healthy people have low intakes, the kidneys help retain magnesium by limiting the amount lost in urine. Low magnesium intakes for a long period of time, however, can lead to magnesium deficiency. In addition, some medical conditions and medications interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium or increase the amount of magnesium that the body excretes, which can also lead to magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.

The following groups of people are more likely than others to get too little magnesium:

  • People with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease)
  • People with type 2 diabetes
  • People with long-term alcoholism
  • Older people

What are some effects of magnesium on health?

Scientists are studying magnesium to understand how it affects health. Here are some examples of what this research has shown.

High blood pressure and heart disease

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Magnesium supplements might decrease blood pressure, but only by a small amount. Some studies show that people who have more magnesium in their diets have a lower risk of some types of heart disease and stroke. But in many of these studies, it’s hard to know how much of the effect was due to magnesium as opposed to other nutrients.

Type 2 diabetes

People with higher amounts of magnesium in their diets tend to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Magnesium helps the body break down sugars and might help reduce the risk of insulin resistance (a condition that leads to diabetes). Scientists are studying whether magnesium supplements might help people who already have type 2 diabetes control their disease. More research is needed to better understand whether magnesium can help treat diabetes.

Osteoporosis

Magnesium is important for healthy bones. People with higher intakes of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density, which is important in reducing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Getting more magnesium from foods or dietary supplements might help older women improve their bone mineral density. More research is needed to better understand whether magnesium supplements can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis or treat this condition.

Migraine headaches

People who have migraine headaches sometimes have low levels of magnesium in their blood and other tissues. Several small studies found that magnesium supplements can modestly reduce the frequency of migraines. However, people should only take magnesium for this purpose under the care of a health care provider. More research is needed to determine whether magnesium supplements can help reduce the risk of migraines or ease migraine symptoms.

Can magnesium be harmful?

Magnesium that is naturally present in food is not harmful and does not need to be limited. In healthy people, the kidneys can get rid of any excess in the urine. But magnesium in dietary supplements and medications should not be consumed in amounts above the upper limit, unless recommended by a health care provider.

The upper limits for magnesium from dietary supplements and/or medications are listed below. For many age groups, the upper limit appears to be lower than the recommended amount. This occurs because the recommended amounts include magnesium from all sources—food, dietary supplements and medications. The upper limits include magnesium from only dietary supplements and medications; they do not include magnesium found naturally in food.

Ages Upper Limit for Magnesium
in Dietary Supplements
and Medications
Birth to 12 months Not established
Children 1–3 years 65 mg
Children 4–8 years 110 mg
Children 9–18 years 350 mg
Adults 350 mg

 

High intakes of magnesium from dietary supplements and medications can cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Extremely high intakes of magnesium can lead to irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

Are there any interactions with magnesium that I should know about?

Yes. Magnesium supplements can interact or interfere with some medicines. Here are several examples:

  • Bisphosphonates, used to treat osteoporosis, are not well absorbed when taken too soon before or after taking dietary supplements or medications with high amounts of magnesium.
  • Antibiotics might not be absorbed if taken too soon before or after taking a dietary supplement that contains magnesium.
  • Diuretics can either increase or decrease the loss of magnesium through urine, depending on the type of diuretic.
  • Prescription drugs used to ease symptoms of acid reflux or treat peptic ulcers can cause low blood levels of magnesium when taken over a long period of time.
  • Very high doses of zinc supplements can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and regulate magnesium.

Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take. They can tell you if the dietary supplements might interact with your medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

Magnesium and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food, advises the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlateexternal link disclaimer.

Where can I find out more about magnesium?

Disclaimer

This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Updated: February 17, 2016

Chondroitin sulfate benefits

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What is it?

Chondroitin sulfate is a chemical that is normally found in cartilage around joints in the body. Chondroitin sulfate is usually manufactured from animal sources, such as shark and cow cartilage.

Chondroitin sulfate is used for osteoarthritis. It is often used in combination with other ingredients, including manganese ascorbate, glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, or N-acetyl glucosamine.

Chondroitin sulfate is also taken by mouth for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, heart attack, weak bones (osteoporosis), joint pain caused by drugs used to treat breast cancer, acid reflux, high cholesterol, muscle soreness after exercise, a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis, a bone disease called Kashin-Beck disease, and itchy and scaly skin (psoriasis). Chondroitin sulfate is also used in a complex with iron for treating iron-deficiency anemia.

Chondroitin sulfate is available as an eye drop for dry eyes. In addition, it is used during cataract surgery, and as a solution for preserving corneas used for transplants. It is approved by the FDA for these uses.

Some people with osteoarthritis use ointments or skin creams for pain that contain chondroitin sulfate, in combination with glucosamine sulfate, shark cartilage, and camphor.

Some people also inject chondroitin sulfate into the muscles for osteoarthritis.

Some people insert chondroitin sulfate into the bladder for urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder conditions, or loss of control of the bladder.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for CHONDROITIN SULFATE are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Cataracts. Research shows that injecting a solution that contains chondroitin sulfate and sodium hyaluronate into the eye protects the eye during cataract surgery. Many different products containing chondroitin sulfate and sodium hyaluronate have been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use during cataract surgery. However, it’s not clear if adding chondroitin sulfate to sodium hyaluronate solutions helps reduce pressure within the eye after cataract surgery compared to other similar treatments. Some early studies suggest that a specific eye solution containing chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronate (Viscoat, Alcon Laboratories) can decrease pressure in the eye and improve overall eye health after a cataract is removed. However, the drops do not appear to be better than drops containing hyaluronate alone or another chemical called hydroxypropylmethyl-cellulose. The effect of solutions containing only chondroitin sulfate on cataract surgery is not known.
  • Osteoarthritis. Clinical research on the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate taken by mouth for osteoarthritis is inconsistent. The reason for contradictory findings is unclear, but could be due to differences in people studied, different products used, or other differences in study design. Overall, the evidence shows that some people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hand may experience pain relief after taking chondroitin sulfate for 3-6 months. But pain relief is likely to be small at best. Other evidence shows that taking chondroitin sulfate for about 2 years might prevent osteoarthritis from becoming worse.
    Some research has evaluated the effects of chondroitin sulfate when taken by mouth in combination with glucosamine sulfate or glucosamine hydrochloride. Most research shows that taking these combination products for about 3-4 months reduces pain and improves joint function in patients with knee osteoarthritis. But some conflicting evidence exists.
    Some skin creams containing chondroitin sulfate are promoted for reducing osteoarthritis pain. There is some evidence that a skin cream containing chondroitin sulfate in combination with glucosamine sulfate, shark cartilage, and camphor seems to reduce arthritis symptoms. However, any symptom relief is most likely due to the camphor and not the other ingredients. There is no research showing that chondroitin is absorbed through the skin.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Early research suggests that administering a specific chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid solution (iAluRil, IBSA Farmaceutici) through a catheter weekly for 4 weeks and then monthly for about 5 months reduces UTIs in women with a history of UTIs.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Joint pain caused by breast cancer drugs. Early research suggests that taking a combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate in two or three divided doses daily for 24 weeks improves joint pain and symptoms caused by drugs used to treat breast cancer.
  • Dry eyes. Research on the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate on dry eyes is mixed. Early research suggests that using chondroitin sulfate eye drops decreases dry eyes. However, other evidence suggests that eye drops containing chondroitin sulfate are less effective than tear-replacement drops (Gel-Larmes). Other research shows that using a specific eye drop containing chondroitin sulfate together with xanthan gum (PRO-148, Laboratorios Sophia, SA de CV, Guadalajara, Mexico) four times daily for 60 days does not improve tears, but might improve the severity of dry eye symptoms.
  • Muscle soreness after exercise. Early research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate daily does not reduce muscle soreness after exercise in men.
  • Acid reflux. When taken along with conventional treatments such as antacids, a syrup containing hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate appears to reduce the intensity of acid reflux symptoms.
  • Bladder inflammation (interstitial cystitis). Several low-quality studies suggest that administering chondroitin sulfate solution into the bladder with or without hyaluronic acid can improve symptoms of bladder inflammation. Also, other early research suggests that taking a combination product containing chondroitin sulfate (CystoProtek) by mouth can improve bladder inflammation. However, some higher-quality research shows that inserting chondroitin sulfate into the bladder does not improve symptoms.
  • Bone and joint disease (Kashin-Beck disease). Early research suggests that chondroitin sulfate, with or without glucosamine hydrochloride, can reduce pain in people with Kashin-Beck disease. Also, taking chondroitin sulfate with glucosamine sulfate can slow joint space narrowing in people with this bone disease. However, it is unclear if taking chondroitin sulfate alone slows joint space narrowing.
  • Heart attack. Some early research shows that taking chondroitin sulfate by mouth might lower the risk of having a first or recurrent heart attack.
  • Skin redness and irritation (psoriasis). Early research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate for 2-3 months decreases pain and improves skin conditions in people with psoriasis. But other research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate (Condrosan, CS Bio-Active, Bioiberica S.A., Barcelona, Spain) daily for 3 months does not reduce psoriasis severity in people with psoriasis and knee osteoarthritis.
  • Overactive bladder. Early research suggests that inserting sodium chondroitin sulfate into the bladder through a urinary catheter improves quality of life in people with overactive bladder.
  • Heart disease.
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis).
  • High cholesterol.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate chondroitin sulfate for these uses.

How does it work?

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joints breaks down. Taking chondroitin sulfate, one of the building blocks of cartilage, might slow this breakdown.

Are there safety concerns?

Chondroitin sulfate is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth or used as an eye solution during cataract surgery. Chondroitin sulfate has been taken by mouth safely in research for up to 6 years. Also, chondroitin sulfate has been given premarket approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as an eye solution during cataract surgery.

But there is some concern about the safety of chondroitin sulfate because it comes from animal sources. Some people are worried that unsafe manufacturing practices might lead to contamination of chondroitin products with diseased animal tissues, including those that might transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). So far, there are no reports of chondroitin causing disease in humans, and the risk is thought to be low. It can cause some mild stomach pain and nausea. Other side effects that have been reported are bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, swollen eyelids, leg swelling, hair loss, skin rash, and irregular heartbeat.

Some chondroitin products contain excess amounts of manganese. Ask your healthcare professional about reliable brands.

Chondroitin sulfate is POSSIBLY SAFE when injected into the muscle short-term, when applied to the skin short-term, when used as an eye drop short-term, and when inserted into the bladder with a catheter by a physician.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking chondroitin sulfate if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Asthma: There is some concern that chondroitin sulfate might make asthma worse. If you have asthma, use chondroitin sulfate cautiously.

Blood clotting disorders: In theory, administering chondroitin sulfate might increase the risk of bleeding in people with blood clotting disorders.

Prostate cancer: Early research suggests that chondroitin might cause the spread or recurrence of prostate cancer. This effect has not been shown with chondroitin sulfate supplements. However, until more is known, do not take chondroitin sulfate if you have prostate cancer or are at high risk for developing it (you have a brother or father with prostate cancer).

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Warfarin (Coumadin)
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. There are several reports showing that taking chondroitin with glucosamine increases the effect of warfarin (Coumadin) on blood clotting. This can cause bruising and bleeding that can be serious. Don’t take chondroitin if you are taking warfarin (Coumadin).

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For osteoarthritis: the typical dose of chondroitin sulfate is 800-2000 mg taken as a single dose or in two or three divided doses daily for up to 3 years.

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:

  • For osteoarthritis: a cream containing 50 mg/gram of chondroitin sulfate, 30 mg/gram of glucosamine sulfate, 140 mg/gram of shark cartilage, and 32 mg/gram of camphor has been used as needed for sore joints for up to 8 weeks.

INJECTED INTO THE MUSCLE:

  • For osteoarthritis: chondroitin sulfate (Matrix) has been injected into the muscle daily or twice weekly for 6 months.

INSERTED INTO THE BLADDER:

  • For urinary tract infections (UTIs): 50 mL of a specific solution containing chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid (iAluRil, IBSA Farmaceutici), has been inserted into the bladder once weekly for 4 weeks, and then once or twice monthly for up to 5 months.

APPLIED TO THE EYE:

  • For cataracts: Several different eye drops containing sodium hyaluronate and chondroitin sulfate (DisCoVisc, Alcon Laboratories; Viscoat, Alcon Laboratories; DuoVisc, Alcon Laboratories; Viscoat, Alcon Laboratories; Provisc, Alcon Laboratories) have been used during cataract surgery.

Other names

Calcium Chondroitin Sulfate, CDS, Chondroitin, Chondroitin Polysulfate, Chondroitin Polysulphate, Chondroitin Sulfate A, Chondroitin Sulfates, Chondroitin Sulfate B, Chondroitin Sulfate C, Chondroitin Sulphates, Chondroitin Sulphate A Sodium, Chondroïtine, Chondroïtine Sulfate A, Chondroïtine Sulfate B, Chondroïtine Sulfate C, Chondroïtine 4-Sulfate, Chondroïtine 4- et 6- Sulfate, Condroitin,

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Volpi N. Quality of different chondroitin sulfate preparations in relation to their therapeutic activity. J Pharm Pharmacol 2009;61:1271-80. View abstract.
  2. Lauder RM. Chondroitin sulphate: a complex molecule with potential impacts on a wide range of biological systems. Complement Ther Med 2009;17:56-62. View abstract.
  3. Barnhill JG, Fye CL, Williams DW, Reda DJ, Harris CL, Clegg DO. Chondroitin product selection for the glucosamine/chondroitin arthritis intervention trial. J Am Pharm Assoc 2006;46:14-24. View abstract.
  4. Zegels B, Crozes P, Uebelhart D, Bruyère O, Reginster JY. Equivalence of a single dose (1200 mg) compared to a three-time a day dose (400 mg) of chondroitin 4&6 sulfate in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Results of a randomized double blind placebo controlled study. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2013;21:22-7. View abstract.

 

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