Joint health concerns affect millions of Americans each year.1 While joint issues can affect all ages and various joints in the body, joints in the knees, hips, lower back and hands are common areas of concern for people over the age of 55.1
Weight, genetics and occupational strains play a role, but joint health concerns are more prevalent in older adults because aging affects your joints.1 As you age, the rubbery-like cartilage that cushions your bones at the joints begins to break down.1 But with healthy exercise, proper diet and supplementation, you can fight back and support the health of your joints.
What Is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is one of the most popular joint-health supplements on the market. It’s a naturally-occurring compound your body needs to support healthy cartilage. While your body produces its own natural supply, many people turn to dietary supplements to help maintain higher levels of glucosamine to support joints and help protect cartilage from the effects of aging.2
As a dietary supplement, glucosamine is either derived from the tough exoskeletons (shells) of shellfish like shrimp, lobster and crab, or synthesized in a lab. Glucosamine supplements are available in three primary formulations: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG).
Clinical Research: Glucosamine Dosage Recommendations
According to an in-depth review of clinical trial data, studies have typically used doses of 1.5 grams (1,500 mg) of glucosamine per day, often divided into 500 mg doses three times per day.3 Doses as high as 3,200 mg of glucosamine have been used in trials, but increased benefits due to those higher doses have not been established.3 It’s also relevant to note that most studies have used glucosamine sulfate.
Whether you take glucosamine supplements as capsules, tablets, liquid or powder, taking 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate per day appears to be the most common recommendation for joint comfort and mobility. That said, it’s important to give glucosamine time to work within your body. It may take up to a month to deliver noticeable benefits.4
Glucosamine Side Effects and Interactions
While glucosamine is considered to be generally safe and well-tolerated when taken in appropriate amounts (follow your product label), some mild side effects have been reported, including gastric discomfort, drowsiness, headaches and skin irritation.2,3 Also, glucosamine may interact with acetaminophen and warfarin, and glucosamine may not be a good option for people with asthma.2,3
Most glucosamine is derived from shellfish, so unless the product label specifically says the product is shellfish-free, glucosamine should be avoided by people with shellfish allergies.
As with any new dietary supplement, it’s important to discuss any potential risks with your primary healthcare provider, especially if you are taking medications or have an ongoing health concern. Glucosamine is well-studied and typically well-tolerated.
1Understanding Cartilage, Joints, and the Aging Process. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/understanding-aging-and-joints#1 (Accessed 04/05/2018)
2Glucosamine. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-glucosamine/art-20362874 (Accessed 3/13/2018)
3Glucosamine. Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/npp/glucosamine.html (Accessed 3/13/2018)
4Glucosamine. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/glucosamine.php (Accessed 3/13/2018)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.