steoarthritis is the most common joint disease. It affects up to 240 million people worldwide. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. Some natural supplements also help with joint pain. Glucosamine is a popular joint supplement that helps reduce the severity of the disease.
What is glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in the body that is an amino sugar made from glucose and glutamine. It is part of cartilage and synovial fluid, which are responsible for providing nutrition to cartilage. Without glucosamine, synovial fluid becomes more watery, leading to malnutrition and the loss of elasticity, resulting in pain and inflammation.
A supplement is used to make up for the body’s deficiencies in this compound. Chitin, which is used in the construction of crustacean skeletons, is used to make glucosamine preparations. In addition, synthetic glucosamine exists. Since glucosamine is not present in basic food items, our diets do not supply the body with it.
Natural sources of glucosamine include animal bones, including bone marrow, joint fluid, shellfish, and fungi. Vegan sources of natural glucosamine can be made from corn and wheat, but the grains must be processed first1. Raw parsley and spinach contain glutamine, a precursor to glucosamine. However, aside from shellfish shells, there are no other natural food sources of glucosamine.
Who needs it?
The amount of glucosamine in the body decreases with age, leading to joint problems in elderly people and in young people who are overweight, exercise intensively, and work hard. Deficiencies of this substance can also occur in the case of poorly healed joint damage.
Action of the supplement
Glucosamine stimulates the articular cartilage to rebuild and improve mobility, and it reduces the action of enzymes and pro-inflammatory cytokines. It also stimulates the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which can reduce pain. Further studies are needed to evaluate its effectiveness.
Research shows that glucosamine put to joints can:
- reduce joint pain ,
- relieve inflammation of the joints,
- improve their mobility,
- slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Preparations containing glucosamine need to be taken frequently and consistently in the case of diseased joints, reducing the need for painkillers. Research has focused on osteoarthritis of the knee, but other joints may also benefit.
Glucosamine-containing products can be taken as a preventative measure. This mainly applies to people who engage in rigorous exercise. They will hasten cartilage repair, which will aid in the recovery of joint injuries. Scientific evidence demonstrates that this substance, when taken orally, guards against degenerative changes in the joints by preventing the degeneration of cartilage.
Studies demonstrating that glucosamine supplementation in humans results in weight gain are lacking. According to studies done on animals, taking glucosamine either makes you gain or lose weight, depending on your eating habits. Additionally, some sources claim that ingesting it causes blood sugar levels to rise.
Which glucosamine for joints is the best?
Glucosamine is available in supplement form as sulfate, hydrochloride, or N-acetylglucosamine. It has been proven that sulfate is better absorbed and works best in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Bioavailability can be improved by taking it on an empty stomach. Fewer studies confirm the effectiveness of N-acetylglucosamine.
Glucosamine is a well-tolerated compound with mild side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain. It can also increase eye pressure, cause elevated blood glucose levels, and cause liver damage in patients with pre-existing liver disease. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking it and contact your doctor.
When using glucosamine, caution should be exercised by people with shellfish allergies, asthma, liver diseases, anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin), because glucosamine may increase the effect of the drug, and thus increase the risk of bleeding) and antidiabetic drugs.