Home » Dietary supplements for bones, cartilage or joints: All of them are unnecessary – some are also risky

Dietary supplements for bones, cartilage or joints: All of them are unnecessary – some are also risky

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Dietary supplements for bones, cartilage or joints: All of them are unnecessary – some are also risky

Painful knees when jogging, stiff joints after getting up – these can be signs of wear and tear or too much strain on the joints. This often leads to osteoarthritis. Not only older people suffer from this, but also younger people who play intensive sports such as football or have to kneel, squat or do heavy lifting for work. To relieve the pain, some people turn to nutritional supplements that, by their name or presentation, appear as if taking them would have a positive effect on bones, cartilage and joints. Is it worth buying?

Stiftung Warentest tested 18 such dietary supplements – including well-known names such as Abtei and Doppelherz. Conclusion: You can save the money for these pills, powders and ampoules. Some even pose risks. Important warnings are often missing, and some preparations exceed the officially recommended maximum amounts of certain vitamins or minerals in the declared daily rations. The test shows which products you need to be particularly careful with and gives tips on what you can do instead for a healthy musculoskeletal system.

Why testing nutritional supplements is worth it for you


From a nutritional and medical perspective, we evaluate 18 dietary supplements whose name or presentation relates to the maintenance of bone and cartilage function or to joint health in general. For example, the test includes preparations from Abtei, Doppelherz, Orthomol and Tetesept, including tablets, capsules and drinking ampoules. The price range ranges from 14 cents to 2.18 euros per daily ration.

Background and tips

You will find out what can actually relieve your joint pain. We also give tips on how to prevent osteoarthritis and what role exercise and the right foods play in this.

Magazine article as PDF

After activation, you will receive the magazine article from test 3/24 as a PDF for download.

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Bone, cartilage or joint supplements Unlock all test results for bone, cartilage or joint supplements

No evidence of benefit against joint problems

The products in the test contain at least one, usually several vitamins and minerals, and some also contain plant extracts from rosehip or devil’s claw root. There are also substances such as chondroitin, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid or collagen – natural components of joint cartilage. But: We humans don’t have to supplement these substances, our bodies produce them in sufficient quantities ourselves. A vitamin deficiency is also extremely rare among healthy adults in Germany. It is therefore easy to avoid nutritional supplements.

Our analysis also shows this: A benefit from additional intake of the dietary supplements in the test has not been proven from a nutritional and nutritional medical perspective. The preparations are therefore unnecessary in the best case scenario. Some even pose risks. Ten products lack warnings, such as that certain people should not take them. Seven products exceed the officially recommended maximum amounts for a daily dose for individual vitamins and minerals with the declared daily rations.

Tipp: If you click on a product in the image gallery above, you will find out details about the price and number of capsules or tablets contained in the dietary supplement being examined before you pay.

Exercise and medication instead of nutritional supplements

Joint pain and, as a result, osteoarthritis can occur when the smooth cartilage layer on the joint surfaces wears down and becomes thinner and rougher due to age-related wear or excessive stress. Too little exercise can accelerate the breakdown of cartilage. But this also means that joint problems can be prevented, for example by moderate hiking or climbing stairs.

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There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. However, the associated joint pain can be improved with the help of medication and certain therapies. Important: Dietary supplements – and therefore also those in the test – are generally not intended to relieve pain or cure illnesses. They are considered food. In contrast to medications, they do not require approval nor do manufacturers have to prove their effectiveness and safety.

Tipp: You can also find out which painkillers are suitable for combating joint pain in our test of painkillers.

This is how Stiftung Warentest proceeded

We examined the studies on the effectiveness of the substances contained in the preparations: Are there any positive effects proven? Have the benefits and risks of the means been sufficiently clarified? We also checked whether important warnings were present on the packages and whether health claims were permissible. We also examined whether the daily rations stated on the packaging exceed the maximum amounts recommended by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. In our test report you can read which products we found dosage recommendations that were too high – and who should avoid these dietary supplements.

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