Whether due to age, injury, or dozens of other causes, each of us will likely experience chronic joint pain at some point in our life. Is this what you’re going through right now?
On the market for more than 20 years, Cosamin’s line of premium joint health supplement promise to help protect cartilage, cushion your joints, ease movement, and keep you active.
In fact, the company claims their supplements are clinically proven to “work at the cellular level to inhibit enzymes that break down cartilage,” and supported by more published research than any leading joint supplement (more about this soon).
On top of this, Cosamin’s supplements go through 80 quality checks to ensure you’re receiving a valuable product, and to ensure that all their formulas are fully “researched, tested, and certified” and ready to “change the lives of people just like you.”
Because Cosamin’s been available for more than two decades, you probably learned about it from your doctor after discussing your joint pain with them, or from a friend or family member who tried it. What kinds of results can you really expect, though? Will you achieve clear benefits after paying a premium for these supplements?
You’re here to find out if Cosamin is right for you, and whether or not it’ll finally help you find some relief from your joint pain. We’re here to help you find some answers.
What Is Cartilage? How Does It Relate to Glucosamine Chondroitin?
When touching your nose or your ears, you probably notice that they’re firm, but unlike bone, they’re not completely rigid and allow some “wiggle room.”
This is because these body parts are made of cartilage, a connective tissue consisting of chondrocyte cells embedded in a matrix, along with collagen and elastin protein fibers for added strength.
Cartilage isn’t just found in your ears and nose, though. Depending on the type, cartilage is present in the lining of bone joints (hyaline cartilage), structures like the larynx and Eustachian tubes in the inner ear (elastic cartilage), and discs between your vertebrae, as well as in ligaments and tendons (fibrocartilage).
Of these, supplements like Cosamin are intended to prevent the breakdown of joint (hyaline) cartilage, improve movement, and reduce pain. How do they do this?
Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced naturally in the human body, which helps build cartilage. As we age, glucosamine production slows down, so people often begin adding the ingredient to their diet through a supplement, typically derived from the exoskeletons of crustaceans (in the case of Cosamin, it’s shrimp).
1,500mg is the maximum recommended daily dose, which is the amount found in Cosamin’s supplements.
Similarly, chondroitin is also found naturally in the body, but primarily in connective tissues. As we age, our body produces less, so many people supplement the chemical. The recommended daily amount of chondroitin is 1,200mg-1,800mg (Cosamin’s products contain 1,200mg).
Are Glucosamine & Chondroitin Supplements Effective for Joint Health?
Like most ailments, it makes sense that if your body’s production of glucosamine and chondroitin decreases with age, re-balancing your levels should be as easy as adding more to your diet.
However, WebMD notes that, while some studies have shown that chondroitin supplementation can “reduce pain, increase joint mobility, and decrease the need for painkillers,” the evidence that it can specifically help with osteoarthritis is mixed.
On the other hand, The Arthritis Foundation notes that chondroitin might help modestly relieve osteoarthritis pain in the hand, but only by about 8-10 percent.
What about glucosamine? According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s “good scientific evidence” that it might address knee osteoarthritis, as well as osteoarthritis in general.
Granted, this is the evidence for these ingredients individually. What about the evidence for the formulas in Cosamin’s products, specifically?
Is There Clinical Evidence for Cosamin’s Supplements?
According to the supplement’s website, Cosamin is “proven by more published research than any leading joint supplement.” To support their claims, the Research Citations page under the Medical Professionals section of the NutraMax Labs website listed nearly two dozen clinical references for “In Vitro, In Vivo, and Pharmacokinetic Structure / Function Research.”
We have been unable to track down and review each of these references. Accordingly, we take no position on what they demonstrate, and only wanted to direct our readers to that page as a source of information about the extent of clinical support for Cosamin’s supplements.
Will the Glucosamine & Chondroitin in Cosamin Cause Any Side Effects?
According to sites like WebMD, the Natural Medicines Database, and Examine.com, glucosamine and chondroitin are safe for human consumption for lengthy periods of time (glucosamine’s been studied up to 2 years, while chondroitin has been studied for up to 6 years).
In some instances (no specific circumstances or dosages listed), glucosamine can cause gas, bloating, and cramps, and chondroitin might also cause stomach pain and nausea. In rare cases, chondroitin supplementation might also lead to “bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, swollen eyelids, leg swelling, hair loss, skin rash, and irregular heartbeat.”
We’ve already talked a lot about Cosamin’s main two ingredients. Now, let’s talk about each of the joint supplements in their lineup.
What Products Does Cosamin Offer?
Overall, there are four products within the Cosamin lineup:
This is Cosamin’s “most researched, clinically proven” supplement for joint comfort, which was formulated more than 20 years ago by a pharmacist named Dr. Bob Henderson. According to the company, DS stimulates cartilage production and prevents certain enzymes from breaking down cartilage, using two main ingredients:
1,500 mg (1.5g) of FCHG49® Glucosamine HCl
1,200 mg (1.2g) of TRH122® Chondroitin Sulfate
The manufacturer recommends taking 3 capsules daily, whether all at once or divided among meals, “until desired comfort is reached.”
Cosamin DS’s ingredients label.
WebMD and the Natural Medicines Database list 5mg of manganese daily as possibly effective for addressing bone loss and bone mass in those with osteoporosis.
Similarly, vitamin C (no dosage listed) may help prevent cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis.
Compared to their DS formulation, Cosamin ASU claims to work faster than glucosamine alone by adding avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), AKBA (from Boswellia serrata), and a “decaffeinated green tea extract providing EGCG.” The company claims ASU’s ingredients will “work together to decrease the markers associated with cartilage breakdown and joint discomfort.”
- 1500 mg (1.5 g) of FCHG49® Glucosamine HCl
- 350 mg of TRH122® Chondroitin Sulfate
- Proprietary Blend 400mg: NMX1000® ASU Powder, QUIKLOXTM AKBA Complex, and a “decaffeinated Green Tea extract providing the antioxidant polyphenol, EGCG.”
Take three capsules of Cosamin ASU daily until your desired comfort level is reached.
While none of the authoritative sites above referenced unsaponifiables, the Arthritis Foundation reports that these oily fat components have been extensively studied in Europe, where they’ve frequently been shown to block “pro-inflammatory chemicals, prevent deterioration of synovial cells (which line the joints), and may help regenerate normal connective tissue.”
On the other hand, the boswellia found in AKBA is listed as possibly effective for reducing symptoms, decreasing pain, and increasing functionality in those with osteoarthritis. Studied amounts were between 100mg and 1,000mg daily.
Finally, WebMD reports that drinking green tea for a long time (10 years), or taking a 500mg supplement twice daily for 24 weeks, may help increase bone mineral density and improve bone strength in those with osteoarthritis.
Cosamin ASU’s list of ingredients, although there seems to be limited clinical evidence showing they’ll work any better than the original formulation.
Remember how we mentioned that most glucosamine is derived from shellfish exoskeletons? Obviously, this is bad news for vegetarians and vegans.
To address this issue, Cosamin claims their Verde formulation is shellfish-free. You’ll notice from the label below that it contains much of the same formulation as ASU, only using vegetarian-friendly glucosamine (likely derived from grain fermentation).
Although Cosamin Verde contains many of the same ingredients as the ASU formula, it’s vegetarian-friendly.
Like Verde, Cosamin’s Avoca formulation is shellfish-free and vegetarian-friendly. However, it also adds Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which is listed by these authoritative sites as possibly effective for reducing pain and swelling and improving function in those with osteoarthritis.
Specifically, Cosamin claims it’ll help “decrease biomarkers associated with cartilage breakdown.”
Take three tablets daily until desired comfort level is reached.
Cosamin Avoca adds MSM to help reduce cartilage breakdown.
How Much Do Cosamin’s Products Cost?
We see that Cosamin’s products are sold through a variety of national retailers (both in-store and online), including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, and many others, as well as through Nutramax’s online store. In general, prices range between:
- Cosamin DS: $20-$60, depending on count
- Cosamin ASU: $30-$70, depending on count
- Cosamin Verde: $35-$40
- Avoca ASU: $30-$35
If purchased directly through Nutramax, all orders over $90 come with free S&H. Otherwise, you’ll pay a flat rate of $9.95.
Cosamin extends a 10-day refund policy on all direct purchases, whether or not they’ve been opened. You can still request a refund after this (but within 30 days), although only unopened bottles in original condition will be eligible.
To request one, Nutramax customer service can be reached at 888-886-6442.
If you purchased Cosamin from a third-party retailer, refunds may be subject to different conditions.
What Are Customers Saying In Their Cosamin Reviews?
There were 49 customer reviews for Cosamin DS on Coscto.com at the time of our research, who gave the joint supplement an average rating of 4.6 stars. Most compliments referenced reduced discomfort, whether the back, knees, or elsewhere. Most complaints (what few there were) referenced failure to work, which we’ve learned over the years is common with any supplement.
Similarly, 440 Amazon customers gave Cosamin DS a 4.4-star average rating, with many of the same compliments and complaints found elsewhere online. One person also claimed that the capsules were large, and another claimed it actually made their pain worse.
From a company perspective, Cosamin is manufactured by Nutramax Laboratories, based out of Edgewood, MD. The Cosamin line seems to be their most popular products by a wide margin, and they had an A+ BBB rating and only one closed complaint, as of 8/25/17.
Will Cosamin Help Relieve Your Joint Pain?
Is Nutramax a legitimate company, and is Cosamin a legitimate product? Absolutely. Does this necessarily mean you’ll attain any benefit from using one of their supplements?
Everyone’s body is different, so—after discussing the situation with your doctor, of course—the only way to know for sure is by giving one a try.
However, based on what we learned from the Natural Medicines Database, WebMD, and Examine.com, many of the ingredients contained in Cosamin’s formulations are listed as possibly effective for addressing different aspects of joint pain, including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Ultimately, if you order directly from Nutramax, you’ll have 10 days to return your bottle for a full refund (30 if it’s not opened), which means you won’t be out more than a few dollars in S&H if one of their supplements doesn’t meet your expectations.
In fact, since Cosamin is sold at dozens of national retailers, you might be able to avoid S&H altogether (not to mention making the return process easier) by shopping locally.