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Glucosamine

Also indexed as:GS
Glucosamine: Main Image

How to Use It

Healthy people do not need to routinely supplement with glucosamine. Most research with people who have osteoarthritis, uses 500 mg three times per day of GS. Appropriate amounts for other conditions are not known.

Where to Find It

Glucosamine is not present in significant amounts in most diets. Supplemental sources are derived from the shells of shrimp, lobster, and crab, or may be synthesized.

Possible Deficiencies

A glucosamine deficiency in humans has not been reported.

Best Form to Take

Glucosamine is available in several forms. The glucosamine sulfate (GS) form (stabilized with a mineral salt) is the only form clearly shown in clinical trials to be effective for osteoarthritis. For this reason, it is the preferred form.

GS is stabilized with one of two mineral salts: sodium chloride (NaCl) or potassium chloride (KCl).40, 41 Although they both appear to effectively stabilize GS, the use of KCl as a stabilizer seems preferable since the average Western diet already provides far too much salt (NaCl) and not enough potassium. However, most of the research has been done with the NaCl-stabilized form.

Concerns have been raised about the quality of GS products on the market. In one study, the amount of glucosamine contained in 14 commercially available glucosamine products varied from 41% to 108% of the amount stated on the label.42 Even when the weight of the sulfate molecule was included, 11 of the 14 products contained less than the amount of glucosamine stated on the label. Some manufacturers may include the weight of the stabilizing salts (NaCl or KCl) in the total weight of the product, without stating so on the label.

Glucosamine hydrochloride (GH) has been widely available as a dietary supplement for years, but only one trial has evaluated this form of glucosamine as a single remedy for OA.43 This trial found only minor significant benefits from 1,500 mg per day of GH for eight weeks, in people with osteoarthritis of the knee who were also taking up to 4,000 mg per day of acetaminophen. To more fairly evaluate the effects of GH, future research should involve people not taking pain-relieving medication.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

 
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