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What is Glucosamine?

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 acid.

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: