Q. I took glucosamine and chondroitin for about seven months. I had gotten little relief for my back pain, but I was willing to continue it to see if eventually it would help.
Around that time I had blood work done for my yearly exam and found that my cholesterol had jumped from under 200 to 239. I had made no changes in lifestyle or diet other than these supplements. Needless to say, I haven’t taken any since.
A. Dozens of readers report a rise in cholesterol associated with taking glucosamine and chondroitin (G&C). In many cases, cholesterol levels go back down after the supplements are discontinued.
The studies that have actually looked at this issue have not found a connection between G&C and cholesterol. On the other hand, studies do not demonstrate any benefits for mild to moderate joint or back pain either. Since these supplements don’t seem very effective for most people, we can’t recommend them.