Beware of food supplements against joint pain

Beware of food supplements against joint pain

Two substances are in the sights of the health authorities, who have identified the risks associated with these poorly controlled products.

On food supplements, the alerts follow one another and… look alike. A little less than two months after the Academy of Pharmacy, which was concerned about the dangers of laxative herbal products, here is the National Food Safety Agency (Anses) which warns about joint preparations . In a notice published this Friday, ANSES advises against them for diabetics, asthmatics, those allergic to shellfish or patients treated with certain anticoagulants, those who must control their sodium, potassium or calcium intake, pregnant women and children. .

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The health agency self-seized the file in March 2015, after the report of severe hepatitis having led to the hospitalization of a 65-year-old man who had been consuming the food supplement GCA 2700, from the Santé verte brand, for two months. . In the offending tablets, turmeric as a selling point, but above all glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate.

Each year in France, 1 million boxes of this type of food supplement are sold

Source: Synadiet

Naturally present in our body, these two substances “ensure […] the structure and elasticity of cartilage, tendons and skin,” says ANSES. Each year in France, according to the National Syndicate of Food Supplements (Synadiet), 1 million boxes of food supplements containing one and/or the other of these molecules are sold as “being able to contribute to joint comfort”. Glucosamine is then synthesized from chitin (mainly from the shell of crustaceans), and chondroitin sulphate extracted from bovine trachea, septum from the nasal cavities of pigs, shark fins or fish cartilage.

In nine years, ANSES has received 74 reports of adverse effects potentially linked to these two substances. Cases had also been recorded by poison control centers, by health authorities in Germany and Italy (most other European countries do not have a nutrivigilance device), as well as in Canada and the United States.

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“The food supplement is not a medicine, it should not be taken as such!”

Aymeric Dopter, from the Nutrition Risk Assessment Unit at ANSES

The possible adverse effects of these molecules were known, since they are used in drugs and as such have been the subject of toxicity studies. “But it was necessary to know if they were likely to have the same effects at the doses where they are present in food supplements, explains Aymeric Dopter, of the risk assessment unit related to nutrition at ANSES. The dietary supplement is not a drug, it should not be taken as such and should not cause side effects!»

Concerning those with articular aiming, it is, alas, the case. The main disorders identified are haematological (blood abnormalities, for example abnormal drop in platelet count), hepatic, gastroenterological, allergic or dermatological; neurological disturbances, blood sugar levels, kidney damage, interactions with anticoagulants and excessive intakes of potassium, calcium and sodium have been reported; overall, says ANSES, “robust safety studies” are lacking, especially in children or pregnant women.

” READ ALSO – Athletes, beware of food supplements

Half of the references analyzed by the DGCCRF were non-compliant

As for the conformity of the products, it is not guaranteed: in a survey by the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF) carried out in 2017, half of 43 references analyzed were non-compliant, with glucosamine or chondroitin sulphate contents different from those announced, sometimes above the pharmacological thresholds!

Conclusion of the experts: as always with food supplements, even over the counter and presented as “natural”, you should be wary of them and talk to your doctor about them. Especially since the effectiveness is more than uncertain: to the chagrin of the manufacturers, no health claim is authorized in Europe for glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate. In the absence of solid data, European health authorities have simply “not been able to establish a causal relationship between the consumption of these two substances and the “maintenance of a normal joint””…

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