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Stepping Up

B y now, the notion that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate sales are declining, or at least leveling of, should not come as a big surprise. After all, some market researchers (not all) have reported net losses for these joint-health giants for a few years now.1 Although glucosamine and chondroitin still make up the whopping majority of the market, consumer concerns over issues like adulteration, reports of some poor-quality products2,3, allergies related to shellfish sources, plus the not-so-natural state of some highly processed ingredients have all contributed to diminishing sales—in spite of the fact that there is modern data suggesting that these ingredients may alleviate conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Some of those lost dollars are now being taken up both by other familiar joint-health ingredients and lesser-known alternatives (like botanicals). There are many options, and research is expanding around these ingredients.

Vegetarian Alternatives

If there’s one bright spot for glucosamine and chondroitin right now, it may just be vegetarian versions of these ingredients. These options not only open channels to vegetarian consumers; they also eliminate any animal-source concerns, such as shellfish allergies.

Gnosis S.p.A. (Desio, Italy), for instance, is stepping into the chondroitin sulfate arena with its latest ingredient, Mythocondro, launched at this year’s SupplySide West trade show. Produced through a non-animal fermentation process, Mythocondro is said to be structurally and functionally similar to traditional chondroitin sulfate.

Because cow, pig, chicken, and fsh species can all be used as raw material for chondroitin sulfate, Gnosis productsupport specialist Lorena Carboni says it’s possible that products may include a blend of all of these sources. According to Carboni, the result may be “a chondroitin sulfate final product [with] mixed characteristics and not-welldefned activities.” By providing a traceable and consistent product, she adds, Mythocondro can avoid product-oforigin and adulteration questions that plague the modern chondroitin sulfate market. Chondroitin isn’t the only ingredient going vegetarian; multiple ingredient suppliers ofter glucosamine ingredients created from plant sources using fermentation and fungal processes. Some of the most famous of these ingredients are Cargill’s (Minneapolis) Regenasure ingredient, TSI USA’s (Missoula, MT) GlucosaGreen and its brand new GlucosaGreenDF, and Ethical Naturals’ (San Anselmo, CA) GreenGrown glucosamine. Although these ingredients have been on the market for years, suppliers like Cargill say they are now seeing renewed interest in them, from both new and existing joint-health product manufacturers, some of whom may have once been formulating with animal sources.

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