Glucosamine is claimed as a powerful weapon against wear on the joints. Glucosamine is a substance often used by athletes for arthritis prevention. If you have exercised recently and you are an adult or if you exercise intensely and are still growing up, or if you just want to take care of your joints - get acquainted with this substance.
Glucosamine is an amino monosaccharide, found in chitin and glycosaminoglycans in the form of hyaluronic acid and heparan sulfate. Glucosamine is the building block of keratin and hyaluronic acid. Glucosamine is a natural substance of the human body and its highest concentrations are in the cartilage and joints.
Glucosamine can be found in some seafood; the highest concentrations are in the shells of crustaceans, but that is also the most common source of allergic reactions. High concentrations of glucosamine can also be found in animal bones. The best non-animal sources are some mushrooms, like Aspergillus Niger. Glucosamine is used for delaying damage caused by arthritis; it can also help athletes who have joint pain.
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What Is Glucosamine
Glucosamine is an amino monosaccharide, found in chitin and glycosaminoglycans in the form of hyaluronic acid and heparan sulfate. In the form of the acetylated derivative, N-acetyl-glucosamine, it is included in the composition of more complex carbohydrates such as glycoproteins, which are components of the connective tissue.
Glucosamine is the building block of keratin and hyaluronic acid. Glucosamine is a natural substance of the human body and its highest concentrations are in the cartilage and joints.
Even a little difficult, glucosamine might be obtained from dietary sources. The most common natural sources are the animal ones. Glucosamine can be found in some seafood; the highest concentrations are in the shells of crustaceans, but that is also the most common source of allergic reactions.
High concentrations of glucosamine can also be found in animal bones. The best non-animal sources are some mushrooms, like Aspergillus Niger.
Types of Glucosamine
There are basically two types of glucosamine on the market - hydrochloride, and sulfate. Glucosamine sulfate can be obtained by laboratory testing, by using saccharides and glutamine, or it can be derived from natural sources such as crustacean shells.
That is why we recommend to people with crustacean seafood allergies to carefully monitor the labels of products and sources of glucosamine in them. Glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL) is an alternative form of glucosamine sulfate and researches about it is still limited.
Glucosamine hydrochloride, produced through a chemical way, has worse indicators of absorption and tissue concentration, in comparison to the sulfate form. There has been a kind of new glucosamine on the market in the last years.
This is glucosamine, obtained by plants. This is glucosamine hydrochloride but produced naturally. The main source of this glucosamine is the fungus Aspergillus niger which is popular with its proteolytic inflammatory enzymes content.
Some studies indicate certain benefits from the use of plant glucosamine in osteoarthritis treatment and pain suppression. However, a more in-depth analysis is needed. The plant glucosamine is a great choice in case of allergies to seafood. They can be prevented with glucosamine sulfate therapy.
How Does Glucosamine Get Absorb in the Body
Glucosamine gets digested in the small intestine and then it is being transferred in the liver and in the joints.
A study from 2001 in Italy shows that after intake of 314 mg crystalline glucosamine sulfate, traced with ion-exchanged chromatography, blood count and analysis of fecal matter from the body, the absorption is not less than 88.7% of the initial dose.
Scientists reached the conclusion that higher absorption is due to the presence of bifidobacteria which accelerates the metabolism of glucosamine in the intestines. It is believed that glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride have higher absorption, as the higher glucosamine sulfate values reach not less than 88.7%.
In comparison, pure glucosamine gets absorbed only by 26%. Furthermore, glucosamine sulfate has a longer half-life and higher concentrations in tissues and circulating levels.
What Is Its Main Physiological Impact
Glucosamine is used for delaying damage caused by arthritis, it can also help athletes who have joint pain.
What Is the Optimal Dosage
The recommended dosage is 500-2000 mg glucosamine, in three divided doses. Taken this way, glucosamine is safe for human health. Some of the positive effects of glucosamine are dependent on the dosage. Some studies recommend 2000-3000 mg daily but only taken under medical supervision.
We do not recommend taking glucosamine on an empty because of its irritating properties.
Possible Side Effects When Taking Glucosamine
Some people are allergic to glucosamine. The allergic reactions are joints swelling and pain. If you feel this kind of discomfort, then you are allergic to glucosamine and should not use nutritional supplements based on glucosamine.
The main reason for a possible allergic reaction is the use of glucosamine from marine sources, mostly crustaceans. In fact, crustaceans allergy is widespread. In such a case, it is recommended the use of plant glucosamine hydrochloride.
The intake of glucosamine when having a sensitive stomach or in the presence of gastritis and ulcers in not recommended. The USA and European scientists have reached a consensus on the complete safety and lack of side effects and toxicity of glucosamine when taking the recommended dose of 1500 mg.
Researchers have not established any side effects when taking 2000 mg per day. It was found that the intravenous use of glucosamine can worsen insulin sensitivity and it is not recommended to patients in diabetic or prediabetic conditions.
Which Supplements Are the Major Glucosamine Sources
Available in three forms - glucosamine hydrochloride, glucosamine sulfate, and N-acetyl-glucosamine, as N-acetyl glucosamine hardly occurs and most specialists do not consider it a source of glucosamine.
Dietary supplements boost the immune system and accelerate joint recovery. They can be either standalone (containing only glucosamine) or complex. The complex ones may further contain chondroitin - a substance with a similar effect, or methylsulfonylmethane, which is a kind of organic sulfur.
A similar product is NOW Foods Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM. Complex mixtures of substances that include more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and herbs with anti-inflammatory effects are getting more and more popular.
One of the most popular products for joints and cartilage from the higher class of products is Universal Animal Flex. The additives are sold mostly in the form of tablets; the content of glucosamine therein varies from 500 to 2000 mg.
The powder and liquid formulations are other forms of glucosamine today. Single products can usually be found by the name Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine HCL, with a concentration of 500 and 1000 mg per capsule. These can be found in the country’s sports and dietary food centers, some fitness rooms, and pharmacies, or can be ordered also online.
How to Combine Glucosamine
Presently, there is a fairly broad scientific research that detects potential benefits in combining glucosamine with similar effect substances. One of the most popular combinations of glucosamine is chondroitin.
At this stage in vitro studies confirm the synergistic effect of the two substances, while direct human studies indicate modest results. Chondroitin supplements the glucosamine effect by regulating the swelling in inflamed areas. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) also gets well combined with glucosamine.
Although it has been shown that the combination of the two substances does not regulate pain and does not suppress inflammation more than the separate intake, the combination of glucosamine and MSM regulates swelling in problem areas and improves the motor activity of patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
In the long term, the combination of glucosamine with fish oil shows a more potent effect than glucosamine alone. For feeling a significant difference, however, a person needs a long-term therapy that lasts for at least six months and provides at least 600 mg of EPA and DHA daily.
One of the most successful synergistic combinations of glucosamine is with the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia Serrata. It has been proven that intake of 125 mg/kg body weight by both substances has an effect equivalent to 100 mg of ibuprofen in the arthritis treatment.
There is the wrong idea, though, that glucosamine is the natural alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. When combined with glucosamine, ibuprofen has stronger pain inhibition, compared with ibuprofen administered alone. In fact, glucosamine stimulates the effect of certain anti-inflammatory drugs.
What Are the Additional Physiological Effects of Glucosamine
- Glucosamine helps skin wound healing;
- Glucosamine delays the loss of top cartilage tissue of the articular surfaces - the effect has been observed in several trustworthy studies. The way of impact is still not proven. The question is: does glucosamine work by inhibiting the activity of signaling molecules with inflammatory effect (IL-1beta), or by inhibiting the chemical transfer of catabolic genes in the DNA strands of chondrocytes (and thus reducing their catabolic, and optionally increases their anabolic activity), or by biosynthesis of cartilage matrix;
- The usage of doses of up to 3000 mg glucosamine per day gives a decrease in collagen degradation biomarkers;
- Currently, there is some strong evidence that glucosamine helps the reducing of pain and mobility improvement in people with Kashin-Beck disease. This disease has a similar pathology as osteoarthritis;
- Reduces pain in heavy training in a state of osteoarthritis but its effect is weaker than ibuprofen. It has little effect on the power and strength indicators;
- Reduces joint pain in cases of osteoarthritis. Interestingly, there has been a significant effect in subjects with more severe pain and symptoms;
- Serves as a building material of cartilage tissue;
- The effect of glucosamine is higher if taken by injection (intravenously or intramuscularly).
Why Should We Take Glucosamine
As we age, the concentration in the body decreases and the body needs more glucosamine. The most popular compound of glucosamine is glucosamine sulfate. It is usually included in the composition of additives.
The best way of taking glucosamine is after a consultation and review by an orthopedic physician/endocrinologist who can make the necessary research and analysis of risk factors.
According to the OARSI, (Osteoarthritis Research Society International) glucosamine is still the second most effective means to combat advanced osteoarthritis. The European Rheumatism League, however, does not consider glucosamine sulfate the most proven substance in the fight against the knee.