The Makeup of Cartilage

What is cartilage? Cartilage is composed of four components: Water, collagen, proteoglycans, and chondrocytes.

Water

The primary ingredient in cartilage is water. In fact, 65% to 85% of cartilage is water. Water is attracted into cartilage by an ingredient called chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate has the ability to bind up to 100 times its weight in water. Imagine a sponge full of water versus a sponge that is dry and parched. The sponge with water has greater resiliency and spring, almost like a mini shock absorber. The dry sponge, on the other hand, when it is bumped or jarred will pass the impact on to whatever is beside it. Our goal is to maintain healthy joints, and it can never be accomplished if we are not properly hydrated.
Chondroitin sulfates and associated co-factors play a major role in regenerating healthy cartilage. But unless a person is properly hydrated, they can never achieve the goal of attaining and maintaining healthy cartilage.

Collagen

The second ingredient in cartilage is collagen. Collagen is a protein used to make tendons, skin, bones and even the clear membranes of the cornea. It is the most abundant protein in our body, making up approximately 6% of our body weight.
Collagen has been called the glue that holds the cartilage matrix together. It may appear as a single, hair-like strand, or maybe braided together like rope, giving it incredible strength and flexibility. A word-picture that may help understand the value of collagen would be to compare it to the steel in buildings to which the bricks, wood mortar, windows and doors are attached. These building materials must attach themselves to something to stay in place. The same is true of collagen and its structural role in our bodies. Collagen is very difficult for humans to digest and therefore cannot be provided in supplemental form. However we can supply the cofactors or precursors necessary to make collagen. As long a good supply of amino acids, which come from protein, vitamin C, copper, iron, and manganese are present our bodies will continue to make the necessary collagen.
Read:

Understanding Joint Care and Repair
The make up of Cartilage Part 1
The make up of Cartilage Part 2
Protecting and Repairing Cartilage
Hyaluronic Acid for Joint Health
Can Supplementation Help