Glucosamine Natural Arthritis Aid: Information and Benefits
Glucosamine is a natural building block of bone cartilage that is formed by the combination of glucose and an amino acid. It is part of a larger molecule known as glycoprotein that builds and repairs cartilage.
Glucosamine also helps to lubricate joints by stimulating the production of the synovial fluid that keeps them supple. In addition, it contains pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful in treating osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs when cartilage between joints wears away. In addition to its pain relieving properties, glucosamine may help prevent further deterioration of the cartilage around joints that characterizes osteoarthritis.
The effects of glucosamine supplements make it popular with athletes and body builders who often use it to ease joint pain and repair damage to cartilage around overused joints.
Glucosamine is available in several forms. The most common are glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. Generally, studies are performed using glucosamine sulfate, which appears to be the form that is most easily absorbed.
Molecules of glucosamine sulfate are relatively small, so they can actually penetrate cartilage, where they act as building blocks that may repair or prevent damage. There are other, less expensive forms of glucosamine, but they are not considered nearly as effective.
As a supplement, glucosamine sulfate is usually derived from the cartilage of shellfish. It is often found in combination with chondroitin, another building block of glycoprotein. In fact, using glucosamine and chondroitin together appears to enhance the effects of each.
In most studies, the dosage of glucosamine sulfate found useful in treating mild to moderate osteoarthritis is 1500 mg per day. Supplements should be taken for ten to twelve weeks to determine whether or not they will be effective in alleviating joint pain or preventing further damage. People who suffer from osteoarthristis can usually take glucosamine along with their regular medications, but it is best to consult with a physician before doing so.
Nutritional supplements like glucosamine can vary widely in terms of ingredients and quality. It is important, therefore, to choose supplements that are made by a reputable company that provides clear information about the contents of its products.
Glucosamine Side Effects
As a naturally occurring substance, few side effects have been reported from the use of glucosamine supplements. However, some people do experience adverse reactions. The most commonly reported side effects are intestinal gas and softened stools. These effects may be due to other ingredients that are present in a particular brand of glucosamine, so before discontinuing use all together, it may be worthwhile to try another brand if troublesome side effects occur.
Very high doses of glucosamine can cause nausea, diarrhea and other stomach problems, but taking the supplements with food can often alleviate these side effects.
There are certain groups that should not use glucosamine supplements or should use them with caution. These include pregnant women and children, as no studies have been performed to determine whether either group can take glucosamine safely. People who are allergic to shellfish should be aware that most glucosamine supplements are derived from shellfish. However, people with allergic reactions to shellfish can often take glucosamine without incident, since the allergic reaction is usually to proteins in the fish, not the carbohydrate from which glucosamine supplements are made.
Also, though there was once some concern among diabetics about whether glucosamine could affect blood sugar levels, there is little evidence to show that this is the case. Though the name glucosamine suggests the presence of the sugar glucose, glucoasamine does not raise blood sugar levels by providing a source of sugar.
If you’re looking to experiment, there are plenty of options. Simple glucosamine supplements are affordable and readily available—click here for details on the NOW brand glucosamine available from BodyBuilding.com, one of our recommended online retailers. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive formula, have a look at Xtend-Life’s Arthrit-Eze. It contains glucosamine as well as a number of other useful ingredients and anti-inflammatories.