One of the more popular supplements on the market for join pain issues is Glucosamine. This supplement is often taken by athletes and weight lifters who put a lot of stress on their joints and connective tissue. Glucosamine’s claim is that it reduces joint inflammation and can reduce, cure, or prevent ligament and connective tissue problems of the joints.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine makes up part of the polysaccharide structure, which is responsible for forming the exoskeleton of crustaceans and the cell walls of fungi, it serves as one of the most important precursors in the biochemical synthesis of glycosylated lipids and protein. Glycosylate undergoes the chemical synthesis of glycosylation which produces one of the most fundamental biopolymers found in human cells similar to proteins, RNA, and DNA. Glucosamine is also one of the most abundant simple sugars and is mainly produced through hydrolysis of crustacean exoskeletons. In some instances it can also be produced through the fermentation of corn or wheat.
Commonly Used Medical Applications
Glucosamine is typically referenced as being able to treat and aid in the reduction of pain caused by stiff or weak joints. Many osteoarthritis patients use glucosamine to reduce joint degradation and osteopathic symptoms.
The effects of glucosamine as a supplement are still fairly unknown although evidence through a growing number of research studies have shown that glucosamine may have the potential to cause insulin resistance (which is a a bad thing).
Glucosamine is primarily known for its beneficial health effects related to symptoms of deteriorating joints and osteoarthritis. Studies conducted on glucosamine show a significant chance that supplementation might trigger beneficial reactions in the user; however, research is still being conducted to test exactly how effective glucosamine can be as a supplement. Many researchers believe that using glucosamine over long periods of time will have a positive effect on your joint strength; people who engage in high impact sports are more likely to see the benefits of glucosamine against degrading joints when taken for a pro-longed period.
Our Top Recommendation
Doctor’s Best Glucosamine is our top pick for a Glucosamine supplement, if you want to supplement with this. This product contains 750mg of glucosamine sulfate, 600mg of chondroitin sulfate, and 500mg of MSM. It is a non-GMO product and is free of any gluten additives. The combination of these ingredients provides the ideal supplement to build up the cartilage in between your joints. And at about $20 bucks for 240 capsules, it’s reasonably priced for the quality you get.
What the Research Says
Glucosamine is most commonly known for its health effects related to the areas of bones and joints, osteoarthritis, and cartilage support.
The supplemental use of glucosamine is typically recommended for people with symptoms of bone and joint degradation, loose tendons, tissue injury, pain and range of motion loss. If your daily routine consists of activities that constantly call on the strength of your tissue, bones, joints or ligaments, looking into the potential benefits that could arise from supplemental use may actually help!
Below are some of the studies conducted on Glucosamine to test for its potential health benefits:
- Research has shown a 13-point reduction in pain relief on a scale of 0-100 for patients tested with common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Link to the study
- Decreases in osteoarthritis pain have been reported in test conducted. Link to the study
- While there is pending research to inevitably conclude the potential effects glucosamine could have on the rate of recovery for tissue damage, the tests that have been conducted point to a slight acceleration in the rate of rehabilitation for patients suffering from tissue related problems. Link to the study
- Slight increases in range of motion have been noticed in clinical tests conducted on glucosamine. Link to the study
Research surrounding the effectiveness of glucosamine is still very minimal and continues to develop. I want to be very clear here that just because there are a few studies that indicate some benefit do not necessary mean those benefits are absolute.
With that being said it, based on the limited studies done and the indications there may be some real benefit — however minimal that might be, it doesn’t hurt to try supplementing with glucosamine if you’re experiencing joint pain, cartilage degradation or any other symptoms related to osteoarthritis. Or, if you are a hard training athlete putting a lot of stress on your joints and tendons (such as weight lifting, running, Muay Thai, etc).
Who is at risk for joint and cartilage degradation?
High impact sports players and fighters are among the top demographics that suffer from weak joints, cartilage degradation, and knee osteoarthritis. The repeated physical abuse to one’s joints and tissue caused by high impact sports is one of the leading causes for join problems and thus may be the most beneficial target of a consistent glucosamine supplementation.
Weight can have a significant impact on your joints as well, obesity is known to lead to both the onset and progression of osteoarthritis. Besides loosing weight, supplementing may reduce some of the joint issues the obese suffer.
Age also plays a factor in the rate of deterioration your bones and joints experience. Older adults and elderly people with poor diets or hereditary predispositions to weak joint health and other symptoms related to osteoarthritis have a higher chance of experiencing degenerative joint disease. Damage caused to your joints will accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis in most cases.
Glucosamine should also be taken with food, when supplementing you should aim to take at least 300mg-500mg three times daily. The recommended daily dose for glucosamine is anywhere from 900mg-1500mg so as long as you stay within that range for your daily regime you are good money!
Typically the best way to supplement with glucosamine is to take glucosamine sulfate salts, glucosamine sulfate is also effective for supplementation. Research has shown that forms of glucosamine such as glucosamine hydrochloride are proven to be ineffective for supplementation.
Possible Side Effects of Glucosamine Supplementation
Here are some of the possible side effects of supplementing. These may not happen, but it’s a good idea to know what other people have reported occurs when supplementing.
- Skin Reactions
Does Glucosamine Actually Work?
Let’s look at what the actual evidenced based studies show.
There have been many studies conducted on glucosamine as a supplement to test for the various health benefits it potentially possesses. Those studies indicate that glucosamine does provide evidence that it’s beneficial of pain relief associated with degenerative joints and damaged tissue recovery. Most researchers recommend that to see the full potential of glucosamine it must be taken over a period of time.
However the only problem with these findings is that clinical research is still quite inadequate surrounding the use of glucosamine as a supplement to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis and other degenerative tissue and joint diseases.
How Effective is Glucosamine?
Doctors and scientists have concluded that while glucosamine supplementation has shown slight signs of potential effectiveness in areas of joint pain, degenerative tissue diseases, and ligament damage there is still not enough evidence out to finalize a conclusion as to the benefits (in this case, the benefits that a few number of lab test that have been conducted state as results on the effectiveness of glucosamine as a supplement).
The thought that it does aid in pain relief related to degenerative tissue disease, damaged joints etc. is clouded by speculation that many tests may in fact be pumped by the industry for profit. Doctors state that if you do decide to experiment with glucosamine supplementation you should also consider adding other supplements to your regime as well as changing your diet to revolve around more anti-inflammatory nutrients.
So the takeaway here is that there is some evidence it can help with pain relief for joint problems but less evidence that it may help with osteoarthritis and degenerative tissue and joint diseases.
Should you supplement with glucosamine?
Glucosamine isn’t an essential vitamin or even necessarily vital to any particular life sustaining function our bodies perform. While supplementation with glucosamine isn’t recommended just for the sake of taking another supplement, it is however recommended that you at least try supplementing with glucosamine if you are experiencing symptoms or problems related to joint, tissue, ligament or bone pain. If you have incurred an injury to your joints or tissue due to sports or any other physical act you should also try supplementing with glucosamine to see if it works for you.
Our conclusion: It may help with some of the pain, as studies indicate, but the jury is still out as far as how much it will help. Ultimately, we can’t give you a definite answer here other than try it for three to six months and monitor the results in your own situation. It has helped other people and studies are generally positive, so it’s worth trying.
Common Signs of Degenerative joint or tissue disease
If you are experiencing a decrease in the range of motion in your joints and ligaments, you may potentially have degenerative tissue damage. Consistent pain in association with your knee or other areas of your body where ligaments, tendons, and joints connect with tissue can also be a sign of degenerative joint and cartilage health.
Who should supplement with Glucosamine?
As stated earlier in the article being that research surrounding glucosamine’ s potential effectiveness for the prevention of symptoms and signs related to degenerative tissue disease is still very limited, the recommendation for supplementation with glucosamine Is purely subjective. If you are experiencing signs that you believe point to a problem with your joint health it won’t hurt to try supplementing with glucosamine along with other anti-inflammatory products to see if it has any effect on your overall tissue, joint, ligament, and bone health.
Below I’ve listed some of the most common symptoms that people who choose to supplement with glucosamine experience:
- Limited or decreased range of motion
- Mild to ever swelling around the areas of your joints
- Clicking sounds when you bend or move your joints
- Hip pain
- Lower back pain
- Hand pain
- Outgrowth in toes
- Joint deformity
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to look at your options for glucosamine supplementation. A number of people have reported small increases in pain relief or decreases in joint and ligament stiffness. Slight increases in range of motion have also been reported in studies on glucosamine supplementation.
Glucosamine for Fighters
As fighters we consistently absorb the abuse that our joints and other sensitive body parts take as a result of our intense sport. Over time deterioration of the ligaments, tissue, joints and even bones can have a significant impact on your ability to perform.
You should always monitor the amount of pain you experience on a day-to-day basis and try to make adjustments to practices in efforts to reduce the amount of tension your muscles, ligaments, and joints receive as a result of fighting. Regardless of the few number of studies conducted on glucosamine, there is some pretty compelling evidence of the potential health benefits it possesses. Fighters are recommended to monitor their joint and bone activity to determine whether or not glucosamine supplementation would be right for them.
We recommend that IF you are above thirty-five, you train more than four days a week, and or you are doing join-stressing training (such as jujitsu or wrestling), or you have existing joint problems it’s worth doing a three to six month supplementation test with Glucosamine. It may help with some of those issues.
Glucosamine Supplementation for Fghters: What to Do
Supplement if: You commonly experience pain associated with your joints, ligaments, bones, or tissue. If you have a hereditary predisposition to degenerative ligament disease. You notice a decrease in your range of motion or begin to hear clicking sounds when you move your joints.
Don’t supplement if: You have a diet that consist of anti-inflammatory foods or products. Do not experience any pain related to your joints, ligaments, tissue, or bones.
The Final Word
We feel Glucosamine is a legit supplement for people with existing joint pain issues or for hard training althetes performing joint-stressing activities. While Glucosamine does not appear to be some magical cure-all, the research does show it may provide at least some benefits, especially for inflammation relief and joint pain reduction. As for preventing joint issues, the research is not all that clear if this supplement will prevent joint issues. As an athlete, this supplement is worth considering. After supplements like Fish Oil and Protein Powder, something that MAY prevent possible joint injury and reduce joint inflammation is worth taking, even if the effect may be small.
Best Glucosamine Supplement Recommendations
Here’s my selection for what I consider the best of the Glucosamine supplements in terms of quality, quantity and price. There are many other brands, but these ones stand out as the better (and more affordable) of the brands. Whatever you do, buy online to save money — if you buy Glucosamine in your local pharmacy or supplement shop, you are going to pay a big premium in price.
Doctor’s Best Glucosamine contains 750mg of glucosamine sulfate, 600mg of chondroitin sulfate, and 500mg of MSM per serving. This non-gmo glucosamine supplement combines three different powerful degenerative tissue disease fighting agents and is gluten free.
Kirkland’s Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine is one of the purest glucosamine supplements available on the market with roughly 1500mg of MSM per serving. It has one of the highest dosages available amongst similar supplements on the market.
Move Free Glucosamine supports joint health in five different areas including: mobility, comfort, strength, flexibility and lubrication. It also promotes tissue health and has protective properties to protect against tissue degeneration.