Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, occurs when cartilage on the ends of our bones wears down as we get older. When that protection starts to be compromised, we experience pain and stiffness. No joint in your body is immune to osteoarthritis, but it most often affects the neck, hands, knees, lower back and hips.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine occurs naturally in our connective tissue and plays an important role in the building of cartilage and its repair. Studies show evidence that it also limits the breakdown of cartilage.
While glucosamine is often taken in a daily dosage of 1,500 mg, the combination of ingredients in our glucosamine supplement and the bioavailability of those ingredients means people are adequately served with 1,000 mg per day.
Some of the benefits common to many of the glucosamine studies include:
- Reduced osteoarthritis pain
- Improved function in those suffering from hip or knee osteoarthritis
- A reduction in joint swelling and stiffness
- Osteoarthritis symptom relief continues for up to three months after treatment is stopped
Glucosamine and Inflammation
Glucosamine has been shown to reduce inflammation in the synovial cells that line our joints and in blood vessels. Studies provide evidence and how this anti-inflammatory process works. In 2011, Dr. Nagaoka of the Juntendo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan published findings from glucosamine use in rabbits reduced the formation of a number of compounds associated with inflammation, including the C-reactive protein and interleukin-6.
There is even evidence to suggest that N-acetyl glucosamine oral supplements¬†may help improve symptoms inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic autoimmune condition where the body mistakenly attacks the intestines, causing abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss.
Food Sources of Glucosamine
Most glucosamine supplements are made from chitin, the hard outer shells of shrimp, lobsters and crabs. While trace amounts can be found in foods, supplementation is necessary to reap the benefits of glucosamine.
Not all glucosamine is created equal. Of the three types of glucosamine – glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine – glucosamine sulfate has the most research backing its effectiveness. One of the reasons glucosamine sulfate is more effective than the others is that it provides bioavailable dietary sulfur, which helps provide the protein links needed for cartilage repair.
The quality of the supplement you choose also plays a critical role in how effective it will be. If not properly formulated, the glucosamine will not be adequately absorbed in the body. Minerals such as zinc, copper and manganese help maximize absorption.
Is a glucosamine supplement right for you? The best way to answer that question is to consult with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive approach to treating your osteoarthritis. In the meantime, you can reduce symptoms by addressing your nutritional habits, exercising, and if need be, losing excess weight that puts undue stress on your joints.