Trouble with joint health supplements

Trouble with joint health supplements

Some glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellia and MSM products don't contain listed ingredients, are contaminated with lead or do not break apart properly.

Glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellia and MSM are popular dietary supplement ingredients for supporting bone and joint health. But some products don't contain listed ingredients, are contaminated with lead or do not break apart properly, according recent analyses by In fact, three out of 18 supplements for people selected for review failed testing, as did all four of the products for dogs and cats. An additional 14 products passed testing, including two for pets, which were identified through's Quality Certification Program. 

Twenty-nine percent of people who take multiple dietary supplements take a joint health supplement, according to the latest consumer survey. Sales of these supplements were approximately $900 million according to 2012 figures from Nutrition Business Journal. Clinical studies suggest that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin can reduce moderate to severe knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Chondroitin may also significantly decrease pain due to osteoarthritis of the hands. Boswellia has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, as well as ulcerative colitis. The evidence for MSM in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis in people remains preliminary.

Among the 18 products for people selected by, 15 met quality standards and labeling requirements. One product contained just 51.6 percent of the boswellia promised on the label, based on its content of boswellic acids. Another product contained only 84.6 percent of its listed chondroitin sulfate and exceeded limits for lead in a daily serving. The tablets of a third product would not properly break apart to fully release its ingredients. Interestingly, two of the products that failed testing were also the most expensive products reviewed.

Among the products for dogs and cats, one contained just 16 percent of its listed amount of chondroitin. Two contained only 71 percent and 76 percent, respectively, of their listed glucosamine. A fourth product contained 35 percent more MSM than listed on its label.

The Product Review for Joint Supplements (for people) is available online and covers the following 33 supplements, including 14 approved through's Quality Certification Program and one product similar to another that was approved:

• Bluebonnet Vegetarian Glucosamine MSM
• Cosamin DS
• CVS pharmacy Glucosamine Chondroitin Triple Strength with MSM
• DG Health Triple Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM
• Doctor's BEST Best MSM 1500
• DONA Crystalline Glucosamine Sulfate
• Dr. David Williams Joint CPR
• Elations Healthier Joints
• Finest Nutrition (Walgreens) Glucosamine Chondroitin
• Instaflex Joint Support
• Jarrow Formulas Glucosamine + Chondroitin + MSM
• Joint Juice On The Go!
• Kirkland Signature (Costco) Glucosamine HCl With MSM
• Life Extension ArthroMax Advanced With UC-II and ApresFlex
• Nature Made Triple Flex
• NOW Vegetarian Glucosamine & MSM
• Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Care
• Pure Encapsulations Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM
• Puritan's Pride Triple Strength Joint Soother
• Schiff Move Free Total Joint Health
• Shaklee Joint Health Complex
• Simply Right (Sam's Club) Glucosamine Chondroitin + Vitamin D-3 
• Solgar No. 7
• Source Naturals Chondroitin Sulfate
• Spring Valley (Walmart) Glucosamine Chondroitin Soft Chews
• TR CAPS TR Joint Plus Caps
• Twinlab Glucosamine Sulfate
• USANA Procosa
• Vitacost 5-Loxin
• Vitamin Shoppe Triple Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM
• Vitamin World Joint Soother
• Webber Naturals Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate
• Whole Foods Glucosamine and Chondroitin 

The Product Review of Joint Supplements for Dogs and Cats is available online in a separate report and covers the following six products, including two approved through's Quality Certification Program:

• 1-800-PetMeds Super Pure Omega 3 for Dogs & Cats
• Cosequin DS Plus MSM for Dogs
• Cosequin Joint Health Supplement for Cats
• Joint Complete for Dogs & Cats
• Joint Max Triple Strength
• Liquid Health Naturals K9 Glucosamine

In addition to helping consumers find the best joint health supplements, the reports discuss the clinical evidence, dosing, different forms, and potential side effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, Boswellia, and MSM. Price comparisons are included to help consumers find high quality products at the lowest cost.


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