Our legs can take us to places we have never been. They even help us chase our dreams as we walk forth and back to the office and home. But this constant running and prancing around can cause our joints to wear and tear, hence, disabling us to function efficiently. When that happens, we feel pain even in accomplishing simple tasks and more so doing rigorous training since our joints help us bend, run and lift. When they’re sore and aching, even basic movements can be taxing. Hence, protecting your joints will help keep them strong and allow you to reap the full benefits of working out and leading an active lifestyle and can spare us from pain, which might cause disability. Keeping our body in shape and eating a well-balanced diet can help. But taking a supplement can do wonders.

What is Glucosamine?

  • Glucosamine is found in cartilage and is also available in a form of a supplement that is either prepared synthetically or derived from skeleton of marine animals (1).
  • It is an endogenous aminomonosaccharide synthesized from glucose naturally in the body used in the biosynthesis of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans, which are the building blocks of cartilage (2).
  • It is produced naturally by the body, and the glucosamine found in supplements comes from shellfish or is synthesized in a laboratory (3).
  • Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues (4).

Glucosamine, naturally in your body, plays an important role in making glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins, which are essential building blocks of many parts of your joints, including ligaments, tendons, cartilage and synovial fluid (5). They make our legs useful and functional.

Glucosamine Health Benefits:

1. Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine can be beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis, especially in the knee. It is said to delay the deterioration of cartilage, relieve osteoarthritis (OA) pain and improves joint mobility (6). In 2016, a large multinational trial found combined glucosamine and chondroitin to be as effective at reducing pain, stiffness and swelling in knee OA as the NSAID celecoxib, without the cardiovascular and GI side effects of celecoxib (7). Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates rebuild cartilage and an evidence from some studies show that these compounds can reduce osteoarthritis pain, usually within several weeks to months after initiating therapy, hence, an increasing number of osteoarthritis patients are trying glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates (8).

2. Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is much less common bone disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and it is not caused by every day wear and tear (9). This supplement may benefit RA. In one study in 51 adults with rheumatoid arthritis suggests that it does. According to the study, taking 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride for three months improved self-assessed symptoms more than a placebo (10). However, more studies need to confirm these findings before any solid conclusions can be made.

3. Temporomandibular joint

According to a small study published in the Journal of Reseach in Pharmacy Practice, glucosamine is possibly effective for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) osteoarthritis (11). The study involved 60 adults with TMJ who were given either glucosamine, ibuprofen, or a placebo for 90 days. Glucosamine and ibuprofen were both more effective in relieving pain than a placebo (12). Another 2018 review out of Brazil showed that glucosamine was as effective as ibuprofen at relieving pain when taken over a 12-week period (13). Taking 500 to 1,500 milligrams of it daily for several months or years may help you sleep better, chew and heal while lowering inflammation in the jaw long-term (14).

4. Heart health

Glucosamine contains anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to be associated with lower levels of blood C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation (15). According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, results from animal and cross-sectional human studies suggest that glucosamine use lowers cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk while in another U.K. Biobank prospective study, researchers found an association between regular use of glucosamine and lowered CVD risk among almost 500,000 adults (16).

5. Gut health

Glucosamine is also important for gut health because it has an important role in the health of your microbiome, which has been shown to play a part in everything from chronic inflammation to disease development (17). In fact, one study out of Australia showed that supplementation with glucosamine sulfate may alter the composition of the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which could have far-reaching effects on health and immunity (18).

6. Joint recovery

Glucosamine is often the go-to supplement for athletes who are prone to joint injuries (19). According to one trial, this supplement has shown to improve knee function in 106 athletes with an acute knee injury when taking 1,500 mg daily for 4 weeks (20).  In studies on professional athletes, glucosamine supplements of 1,500 – 3,000 mg dose, up to 4 months, blocked collagen degradation and aided in cartilage recovery (21). In addition, lower doses of glucosamine showed the same effects in 75 healthy individuals (22).

Conclusion

Indeed, this supplement does not only strengthen the bones but also a bearer of an array of other health benefits. But this supplement also reaps some side effects that are typically mild like nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation (23). More serious side effects, including drowsiness, skin reactions, and headache are rare (24). It is also important to remember that people with certain health conditions, including include asthma, diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure should not take glucosamine supplements without consulting a doctor (25).

This supplement can also be bad for people who are allergic to shellfish (26). It is also advised to stop taking glucosamine at least two weeks prior to scheduled surgery, as it may impact the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar (27). In addition, glucosamine can thin the blood, and so you ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking blood thinners, such as warfarin and others. Also, taking glucosamine with an herbal supplement that contains skullcap increases the risk of liver damage (28).