Published November 22, 2012
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance that the body requires for the health of joint tissue. Joint tissue includes cartilage, tendons and the slippery fluid that keeps joints mobile, known as synovial fluid. Cartilage is required to act like a ‘cushion’ for shock absorption and smooth joint movements. Glucosamine is also a component of blood vessels, heart valves, skin, bones and mucus secretions that keep things moving in the digestive, urinary and respiratory systems.1
Glucosamine supplements may contain different forms of glucosamine. Pure glucosamine degrades rapidly when exposed to moisture or air. For this reason, glucosamine is bound to a stabiliser that prevents degradation. The sulfate and hydrochloride forms are two of the most common ‘agents’ that glucosamine is bound to, so as to ensure its stability.2 Glucosamine sulfate is found as a complex (e.g. Glucosamine sulfate potassium chloride complex). Glucosamine sulfate is a good source of glucosamine and sulfate, both of which may assist with repair and maintenance of healthy joints. Glucosamine hydrochloride is another form of glucosamine used in supplements. Upon digestion, glucosamine from glucosamine sulfate is indistinguishable from glucosamine from glucosamine hydrochloride. Many studies have shown that a daily dose of 1500mg of glucosamine is required to assist with osteoarthritis.3
Why your body needs Glucosamine
Glucosamine helps to nourish the joints and helps to reduce further damage to the joints. It stimulates the manufacture of substances needed for healthy joint function and repair. It does this by helping the body to rebuild damaged cartilage as well as produce new cartilage. This may help to temporarily reduce joint pain and swelling and improve joint function and mobility associated with mild osteoarthritis.
Health Benefits of Glucosamine
Glucosamine has been used primarily to support joint health. Glucosamine is used for various health benefits that include;
- Temporary relief of the pain of mild osteoarthritis
- Symptomatic relief and management of mild osteoarthritis
- Temporary relief of joint tenderness and swelling
- Assisting with reducing inflammation of mild osteoarthritis
- Assisting with reducing damage and loss of cartilage
- Supporting athletes by maintaining joint cartilage health
- May provide temporary relief of knee pain associated with mild osteoarthritis and increase mobility and function.
Dietary sources of Glucosamine
Glucosamine occurs in chitin from the shells of prawns and crustaceans.1 There are no major food sources of glucosamine, so taking a supplement is the most popular option. As we get older our ability to produce glucosamine decreases which can lead to gradual deterioration of the joint,2 so taking a supplement may become useful to maintain mobility. Most glucosamine supplements are sourced from the outer shells of shellfish, it is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to shellfish. Other dietary cautions include the use of glucosamine for those who need to be aware of their blood sugar, which may need to be monitored. Once again discuss with your doctor.
Signs Glucosamine may assist you
Most of the signs that you may benefit from glucosamine supplements are related to joint health. Osteoarthritis is a common wear and tear condition from injury, overuse, ageing and excess weight. It is the most common chronic joint problem, affecting a large portion of the population, particularly those over the age of sixty-five. It often affects the weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and ankles as well as the spine and the hands and feet. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include inflammation, tenderness, stiffness after rest, pain that worsens on use and loss of joint function.