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Glucosamine Benefits for Joint Health & Beyond

Glucosamine Benefits for Joints - A happy family playing outside.

Whenever you hear people talking about glucosamine supplements, it is almost always within the context of joint health–And for a good reason. Glucosamine is one of the primary building blocks found in cartilage, which is the tough tissue that helps cushion your joints. Glucosamine is also used by your body to build tendons, ligaments, cartilage and the thick fluid that surrounds your joints.

Because joint health is so closely tied to overall health and wellness, glucosamine and other joint supporting nutrients like chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) have become some of the top selling dietary supplements on the market. In fact, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Therapy—a division of the National Institutes of Health—a 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that nearly 18% of adults in the United States regularly took some type of dietary supplement.1 Of those, nearly 20% (about 1 in 5) used glucosamine.

What Does Glucosamine Do for Joints?

Glucosamine provides two important benefits for joint health. As a component of cartilage, it acts as a natural shock absorber, protecting your body from everyday stresses of walking, jogging, climbing stairs, standing up, etc. As we age, cartilage naturally begins to break down and become less flexible. Evidence suggests supplemental glucosamine can help slow this natural process. Glucosamine also plays a role in providing much-needed joint lubrication, further promoting mobility, range of motion and ease of moving around.

Glucosamine supplements come in a few different varieties, including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl-glucosamine. Each has similar joint health benefits and often are combined with other joint supporting nutrients like chondroitin and MSM. Most people who use glucosamine for joint health prefer a combination formula featuring all three ingredients.

Most clinical studies that support the use of glucosamine for joint health concerns have utilized the sulfate form, which is often harvested from the shells of shellfish.1 Glucosamine sulfate used in dietary supplements, however, does not always come from shellfish (though it often does), as it can also be manufactured in a laboratory.

According to the Mayo Clinic, enough evidence exists to at least encourage people who are concerned about joint health to consider trying a glucosamine supplement.2

A reputable foundation reviewed the most prominent glucosamine studies completed to date.3 Here’s what the organization concluded from the available scientific literature:

  • Results are mixed, but overall glucosamine appears to offer support for those concerned about joint health.
  • A smaller study from 2012 showed joint health support with the combined use of glucosamine and NSAIDs, while a smaller, yet still significant improvement was seen with the use of glucosamine alone.
  • Regarding protecting the joints against the effects of aging, a 2008 study examining the histories of 300 patients found that those using a glucosamine supplement underwent half as many joint replacements as those on placebo.

Glucosamine Benefits Beyond Joint Health

Does glucosamine work for joint health? The evidence is largely on the side of the affirmative. Many studies and reviews have found solid evidence that glucosamine sulfate can help support joint health, and joint mobility and flexibility. For other health concerns like bladder health and jaw health—two other common uses for glucosamine supplements—the evidence is much more mixed.

  • Digestion, Bladder and GI Support
    Some people report glucosamine can help improve overall digestive function and help maintain the lining of the GI tract. Very preliminary studies show glucosamine, when combined with other natural ingredients, including sodium hyaluronate, chondroitin sulfate, quercetin, and rutin, may support bladder health and other gastrointestinal concerns.
  • Jaw Health
    For those with concerns about jaw health and flexibility, glucosamine has been thought to help with jaw function concerns, but research indicates it may be no more effective than common over-the-counter NSAIDs.
  • General Bone Health
    As a side benefit from taking glucosamine for joint health, users also report improvements in bone health and bone density. How? Consider the increased mobility that often comes with glucosamine supplementation. The more active you are, the healthier and stronger your body may stay. Evidence also suggests glucosamine can help preserve and support healthy cartilage around bones, providing a protective effect for overall bone health.

Glucosamine Supplements

Supplements containing glucosamine are becoming increasingly popular for supporting healthy, flexible joints and promoting mobility. Glucosamine is often combined with other supplements that support joint health like MSM and Chondroitin. Here are a few of our popular combination supplements for healthy joints.

Swanson Ultra Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM with Hyal-Joint

A four-in-one formula for healthy, flexible joints that delivers glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM plus hyaluronic acid to nourish and lubricate joints and support optimal mobility. This formula features GreenGrown glucosamine, which is a state-of-the-art formulation derived from a vegetable source (corn). This is a great option for vegetarians or anyone with seafood allergies since many other forms of glucosamine are sourced from shellfish.

Swanson Ultra Joint Care with Glucosamine, MSM & Chondroitin

This combination formula features glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate along with MSM, vitamin C, vitamin E, and manganese to promote flexibility and fluid movement and provide synergistic support.

Swanson Premium Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM­ - Higher Strength

This three-in-one joint-health formula features cartilage-building nutrients glucosamine and chondroitin along with MSM, a high-bioavailability source of organic sulfur to support tendons, ligaments and other vital joint tissues.

Learn more about ways to support joint health in the article MSM Benefits: Joint Health & Beyond and read Move More: How to Move More Each Day for tips on staying active.

Lindsey Bristol, Swanson Health Products
 

 

About Lindsey Bristol, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health

Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. 

Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.

Sources

1Glucosamine: Should I Try It? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265748.php (Accessed 2/26/2018)

2Glucosamine. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-glucosamine/art-20362874 (Accessed 2/26/2018)

3Glucosamine. The Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/glucosamine.php (Accessed 2/26/2018)

*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.


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