What are dietary supple¬ments?
Dietary supplements are commonly used to complement the daily diet by increasing the intake of ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and metabolites. Generally, they are ingested in the form of capsules, effervescent tablets or syr¬ups. Well known examples of dietary supplement include multivitamins and minerals.
Today, a wide range of products are available whose composition is not only limited to a single active ingre¬dient but includes vitamins, miner¬als, other nutrients, botanical sup¬plements, as well as ingredients and extracts of animal and plant origin . People use nutritional supple¬ments with the aim of improving general health and also in the hope of treating a specific disease, since it is also believed that their use results, in some cases, in a cure. Recently, an increasing demand by consum¬ers as well as evidence that some of these supplements actually help pa¬tients, has increased the production of dietary supplements. In parallel, the need for accurate quality control in the production plant has also in¬creased: rapid, robust and accurate analytical techniques are needed to achieve efficient control in the pro¬duction line.
Chondroitin sulfate, CS, is a dietary supplement which is available as the sodium salt from drugstores, gro¬ceries and pharmacies in the form of capsules or tablets. Although the medical community is not yet con¬vinced of its effectiveness, it is cur¬rently used by consumers to treat the pain resulting from osteoarthritis. In fact, it has been shown in medi¬cal studies that chondroitin sulfate is helpful in treating this disease, and it was also reported that patients with back and neck pain have also considered the use of this nutritional supplement as an alternative treat¬ment to traditional medicine .
Why chondroitin sulfate as a dietary supplement?
Chondroitin sulfate is a constitu¬ent of cartilage, i.e. of the struc¬ture covering the ends of the bones, which protects them from mechan¬ical friction and absorbs shocks. In particular, cartilaginous proteins lubricate the joints to prevent damage during movement. To im¬prove their shock absorption and lubricating characteristics, poly¬saccharides are bound to cartilagi¬nous proteins, with each polysac¬charide consisting of hundreds of sugar molecules. The function of chondroitin sulfate, a complex polysaccharide, is to provide struc¬ture, hold water and nutrients, and to allow other molecules to move through the cartilage. This is an essential property, since no blood is present in the cartilage to allow for exchange of metabolites.