What is Glucosamine?
is a naturally occurring amino sugar synthesized in the body from
L-glutamine and glucose. Diabetics take note: Despite the shared "glucose"
root; Glucosamine is not converted to glucose in the
body. As a supplement, Glucosamine comes in several different forms of
which the sulfated, hydrochloric acid (HCL), and N-acetylated (NAG) are
commonly available. Amino sugars are the key components of larger compounds
called glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins that allow cells in tissues
to hold together. They are necessary for the construction and maintenance
of virtually all connective tissues and lubricating fluids in the body.
In particular, N-acetyl Glucosamine is the final form, which together
with Glucuronic acid, are polymerized to make the joint lubricant, hyaluronic
Derived from shellfish, the Japanese were the first to do extensive research on Glucosamine over 25 years ago and reported excellent joint health benefits. They found that glucosamine functions to assist with the ligaments, tendons, cartilage and damaged joints.
What To Look For?
Glucosamine comes in several forms, Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride. The combination of these two forms work the best.
A cheaper form of Glucosamine exists as 2KCL (or 2NaCl). These forms are lower quality, less potent forms of Glucosamine which are generally found in grocery store or discounter products. Try to stay away from this if the other forms of glucosamine are available because those two forms are simply a waste of money. Your joint health is worth it and compared to prescription drugs, glucosamine is far less expensive.
How Do You Take Them?
Taking Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin Sulfate together have been shown to increase their individual effects. This is known as working synergistically. But if you decide to take either or both, take the amount that has been most commonly studied and found in most all of the leading products on the market today. For glucosamine, this amount is 1,500 mg per day. Try the supplements for ten to twelve weeks alone, or along with your currently prescribed medications. People with poor joint health, i.e. with a great deal of cartilage loss, probably will not achieve results supplementing their diet with glucosamine for at least a month, if not longer.
Because dietary supplements are not drugs, their quality and contents may vary widely. Be sure to choose a product sold from a company with a no questions asked return policy, and read and understand the product label ingredient list. Look out for a high quality product that is manufactured in a facility that has GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certifications.
Are There Any Side Effects?
At higher dosages than are usually reccomended, some people report an increase in intestinal gas and softened stools. If you notice any unusual symptoms while taking glucosamine, be sure to consult your physician. Remember that supplements are not directly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore the quality stocked in stores may vary greatly. Find a quality manufacturer and look for products that have a proven track record.
A Word of Caution
People who need to be extra careful while supplementing their diet with Glucosamine include:
and pregnant women. There have been no studies done to determine its effects
on a child or on a developing fetus.
there was initial concerns about glucosamine affecting glucose levels
in the body (likely due to confusion over the name glucosamine being
similar to glucose), there is little evidence that glucosamine actually
raises blood sugar, diabetic or not. Glucosamine does not raise blood sugar by providing an additional source of glucose. However,
many factors can affect insulin secretion and blood glucose levels in
diabetic patients, therefore individuals with diabetes should check
their blood glucose levels frequently (as usual) when initiating glucosamine
into their regimen.
you are taking chondroitin in addition to a blood-thinning medication
or daily aspirin therapy, have your blood clotting time checked more
often. This supplement is similar in structure to the blood-thinning
drug heparin, and the combination may cause bleeding in some people.
- If you are allergic to shellfish, consult your doctor before taking glucosamine. In most cases, however, allergies are caused by
proteins in shellfish, not chitin, a carbohydrate from which glucosamine
- High dosages of glucosamine (over 10,000 mg a day) may cause gastric problems, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and heartburn. Glucosamine should be taken with meals to help avoid these problems. Take caution if a product directs you to take 10,000 mg a day of glucosamine.