Glucosamine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Over time, everyday wear and tear, less-than-perfect diets, sports injuries, and aging can result in unstable and even damaged cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Keeping our joints healthy and stable is an integral part of staying active and living “pain free.” Glucosamine has been shown to help keep our joints resilient and healthy by lubricating and restoring our connective tissues.

Other names for Glucosamine

glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL)

Where to find Glucosamine

Glucosamine is not readily available in normal, everyday foods. Glucosamine supplements are derived from seashells.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Glucosamine

Physically active individuals, such as sports enthusiasts and weight trainers, sometimes suffer from damaged cartilage as a result of years of repetitive motion and overuse of their joints. Often this damage results in aching shoulders, knees, and elbows. Glucosamine has gained immense popularity because of its apparent ability to lubricate and help regenerate cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Strengthening connective tissue helps keep joints healthy and flexible enough to serve as efficient shock absorbers and combat the injuries caused by intense training and repetitive exercises or by the natural effects of aging.
Ways that Glucosamine can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:

  • Strengthen connective tissues (cartilage, ligaments, and tendons) and keep them healthy and resilient
  • Regenerate damaged cartilage to restore joint function and mobility and help promote injury recovery

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Glucosamine deficiency

No deficiency conditions exist in our bodies; however, steady, repeated abuse and strain on particular joints and tendons, such as caused by weight training or certain sporting activities, may produce an “overuse” syndrome and deplete healthy connective tissue.

Potential uses for Glucosamine

Research indicates that Glucosamine may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Wounds/injuries
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Bone and joint problems

DISCUSSION


More about Glucosamine

This naturally occurring nutrient is a glutamine derivative that contains a group called an “amine” and glucose, a sugar molecule. This combination forms the compound known as glucosamine, which is a major component of cartilage — a gel-like tissue composed of about two-thirds water. Our cartilage serves as a major cushioning material for our joints, such as our knees, elbows, hips, and wrists. Without the shock-absorbing and stabilizing effects of cartilage, literally every move we make would be painful.

Over time, everyday wear and tear, less-than-perfect nutrition, injuries, and aging can result in dry, brittle cartilage, which is vulnerable to damage and stiffening. Research has shown that glucosamine may repair damaged or strained connective tissue and may actually regenerate these tissues in the body.


How does it work?

Our joints are made up of two-thirds water yet unfortunately are not able to attract and retain it. Glucosamine has been shown to help keep cartilage resilient and healthy by attracting and holding water and nutrients within its matrix. Studies have even shown glucosamine may help regenerate new cartilage once it becomes damaged, thereby restoring joint function and mobility. Because of its ability to help restore and lubricate joints, if you will, it is quite popular with weight trainers, sports enthusiasts, and seniors alike.

Why might we need it?

Physically active individuals, such as sports enthusiasts and weight trainers, sometimes suffer from damaged cartilage as a result of years of repetitive motion and overuse of their joints. Often this damage results in aching shoulders, knees, and elbows. Glucosamine has gained immense popularity because of its apparent ability to lubricate and help regenerate cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Strengthening connective tissue helps keep joints healthy and flexible enough to serve as efficient “shock absorbers” and combat the injuries caused by intense training and repetitive exercises or by the natural effects of aging.

Many seniors who begin to suffer from the early stages of osteoarthritis, a condition which plagues some 20 million Americans, have such severe cartilage damage that bone actually rubs on bone at the joints, making it difficult or impossible to move. Studies have shown that glucosamine can help combat this condition by regenerating cartilage, stimulating the production of connective tissue, and also acting as an anti-inflammatory.
What the research indicates

A number of studies also confirm glucosamine helps reduce pain in joints damaged by osteoarthritis. In one study, over 1,500 osteoarthritis patients took glucosamine sulfate for 50 days. Of these patients, an outstanding 95% received positive, noticeable benefits from glucosamine sulfate based on the objective therapeutic assessments of their doctors.

This study also compared the benefits of glucosamine sulfate to those of other forms of therapy, including aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Both the patients and their doctors rated glucosamine sulfate significantly more effective as a pain reliever/anti-inflammatory.

Another more recent study with patients who suffered from arthritis of the knee and supplemented with glucosamine sulfate suffered fewer symptoms and even reduced damage to the knee compared to the group receiving a placebo.

Yet another recent study examined the effects of glucosamine on both pain and functional ability in people who suffered from regular knee pain. In only 8 to 12 weeks, with a dosage of 2,000 mg a day, those who supplemented with glucosamine enjoyed both pain relief and improved function.

In conclusion

Whether you suffer from joint pain associated with simple wear and tear or have an old nagging sports injury or perhaps an early onset of osteoarthritis, glucosamine is a intelligent choice for regenerating joint health. Because glucosamine is similar in its structural properties, as well as mechanisms of action, to chondroitin sulfate, some research has indicated that they may work more effectively, even synergistically, when used together to help fight inflammation, relieve connective-tissue damage, and help restore healthy joints.

NOTES ON USAGE


Amount

Most research indicates effective joint recovery dosages at 500 mg 3 times per day.

Timing

Glucosamine should be consumed with meals for best absorption.

Synergists of Glucosamine

Studies suggest glucosamine may work synergistically with chondroitin sulfate for improving joint health because they are similar in both structure and mechanisms of action.

Glucosamine may also work well with Vitamin C to help the body produce and stabilize healthy collagen in connective tissues.

Safety of Glucosamine

Glucosamine should not be used by anyone extremely allergic to shellfish.

Toxicity of Glucosamine

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Braham, R., et al., “The Effect of Glucosamine Supplementation on People Experiencing Regular Knee Pain,” Br J Sports Med 37 (2003) : 45-9.
  • da Camara, C.C., and Dowless, G.V., “Glucosamine Sulfate for Osteoarthritis (see comments),” Ann Pharmacother 32.5 (1998) : 580-7.
  • Kelly, G.S., “The Role of Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfates in the Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease,” Altern Med Rev 3.1 (1998) : 27-39.
  • McAlindon, T.E., et al., “Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Treatment of Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Quality Assessment and Meta-Analysis (see comments),” JAMA 283.11 (2000) : 1469-75.
  • Murray, M., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements (Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA, 1996) 339-340.
  • Pavelka, K., et al., “Glucosamine Sulfate Use and Delay of Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis: A 3-Year, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study,” Arch Intern Med 162 (2002) : 2113-23
  • Qiu, G.X., et al., “Efficacy and Safety of Glucosamine Sulfate Versus Ibuprofen in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis,” Arzneimittelforschung 48.5 (1998) : 469-74.
  • Runkel, D.R., and Cupp, M.J., “Glucosamine Sulfate Use in Osteoarthritis,” Am J Health Syst Pharm 56.3 (1999) : 267-9.
  • Theodosakis, J., et al., Maximizing the Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., 1998) 19, 256-261.