What is it?
Glucosamine is a combination of a protein and a sugar and is a substance that occurs naturally in the connective tissue and cartilage joints.
Where does it come from?
Mainly the exoskeleton of shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimps etc) although it can be chemically synthesized by fermenting corn.
Why take it?
There have been studies done- namely the Lancet in 2001- that shows by taking Glucosamine Sulphate daily for over 3 months can help alleviate the symptoms of osteo-arthritis (OA). There have been a further 15 studies that all show a similar outcome.
The mechanism of OA is still not fully understood. It is thought to be the destruction of cartilage, possibly due to the loss of collagen and proteoglycans. It has been suggested that glucosamine helps repair damaged cartilage as glucosamine is needed to make proteins, which are the building blocks of cartilage. Glucosamine also pulls water into the cartilage producing a gel like sac providing cushioning and flexibility in the joint. Therefore, supplementation is thought to magnify the body’s natural level of glucosamine.
Are there any side effects?
At present there is thought to be limited long term side effects. We have to be careful here, as undoubtedly at some point some will emerge. If you look at the long term side effects of NSAID’s (the medical way of treating OA)- 16,500 deaths and 103,000 hospitalizations in the US alone in one year, then glucosamine is looking pretty good!
• People allergic to chitin in shellfish should avoid it.
• Pregnant women and children- as yet unknown so should avoid.
• Possibly raises blood pressure in diabetics- these people should consult their GP.
Studies have shown 1500-2000mg per day is necessary for full effects.
It takes three months for full effects to be shown.
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