Glucosamine is a natural constituent of healthy cartilage and synovial fluid in the joints of the body. It is derived from glucose and the amino acid glutamine, and as we age we tend to produce less. Our bodies use glucosamine to build and repair cartilage, tendons, ligaments, synovial fluid and other tissues. We need glucosamine primarily for the healthy structure, strength and shock absorbing functions of our joints.
Chondroitin is another naturally occurring substance in the body. As one of the major constituents of cartilage, it is an essential element in providing healthy structure and function. It has a crucial role in producing new cartilage, protecting it from damaging enzymes and maintaining the balance of fluids and nutrient supply within the cartilage. Chondroitin can also support mobility and flexibility within joints.
Glucosamine and chondroitin in combination provide complementary and overlapping functions for cartilage nourishment. These nutrients will support wherever connective tissue is found… and that is all over the body! From healthy bladder walls to strong flexible blood vessels, these glycosaminoglycans are there.
Can I get these nutrients from my regular dietary intake?
You can indeed! But if you are a vegetarian or eat limited animal products, your intake will be limited.
Food sources of glucosamine and chondroitin are found in stock or broth. Get the low-down on broth here. There are no vegetarian sources of these direct nutrients. Glucosamine and chondroitin are found in animal and seafood cartilage and bone.
What other nutrients support glucosamine and chondroitin metabolism?
The most important nutrients needed for optimal function of all our cells, tissues and organs are minerals. These are the fundamental building blocks of our physical body. On top of the biochemical framework formed by these minerals, glucosamine and chondroitin add the raw material for our bodies to maintain and repair the components critical for healthy joint mobility and function. Therefore, it’s important to get your overall mineral intake in the right balance for optimal biochemistry to facilitate production or metabolism of glucosamine and chondroitin from all sources.
Hyaluronic acid, collagen, methsulfonylmethane (MSM), omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin C are all important nutrients needed alongside glucosamine and chondroitin for synthesis and maintenance of healthy joints.
What are the health indicators for glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation?
Wear and tear within the joint is the main indicator for this supplement combination. This is a degenerative state for the joints in the body. The function of cartilage at the ends of bones is to provide cushioning against the action of bone on bone in joint movement. When the joint is worn, the synovial fluid decreases and the cartilage breaks down, causing inflammation, and stiffness. Most common sites are the large joints such as knees and hips, or in the hands. It is more prevalent with increasing age, with extra weight, or when joints have been used a lot through occupation.
Stiff and aching joints may be relieved and and joint mobility expanded by supplementing your diet with these important nutrients.
What forms of glucosamine and chondroitin supplement are most effective?
Glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) are the stable forms of glucosamine used in tablets and capsules. Binding glucosamine to either a sulphate or HCl stabilising agent ensures it won’t degrade in these supplement forms. There is no clear indication yet from research as to which form is more beneficial and anyway results tend to differ from one individual to another, so unless you know which suits you best the most effective approach may be to choose a product that contains both forms.
Chondroitin sulphates are structurally diverse polysaccharides with a range of composition patterns. Indications from research show that significant absorption occurs via the stomach and small intestine and then enters the joint space.
What is the recommended daily dosage?
Typical recommended therapeutic dosage is 1500 mg per day, either as a single dose or in two or three divided doses, for a minimum of 30 to 90 days.
Between 800 mg and 1200 mg daily (in two or three divided doses) is the usual recommended therapeutic dosage. Most research results indicate that 2 – 4 months supplementation of chondroitin is needed.
Are there any contraindications or adverse effects reported?
- Anyone allergic to shellfish should look for a vegetarian glucosamine supplement and avoid other glucosamine products sourced from shellfish.
- For people allergic to sulphur drugs or foods containing sulphates, the sulphate in glucosamine is a different substance and will not cause an allergic reaction.
- In general glucosamine sulphate is a low-risk supplement, non-toxic and tolerated well by most people. In high doses, gastric symptoms may develop, however at the recommended dosage adverse effects are rare.
- While adverse effects from chondroitin supplementation are rare mild stomach upset has been reported in some cases.
- People on anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs should consult their doctor before taking chondroitin, as it may enhance the drug effect.
Other effective supplement combinations
Glucosamine and chondroitin are sometimes combined with other nutrients, particularly Hyaluronic acid, MSM, Omega 3, Boron, and vitamin D.
Hyaluronic acid is another compound produced naturally by the body that cushions and lubricates the joints. It is present in synovial fluid, connective tissue and various other tissues and levels tend to reduce as we age.
Other research has proven that glucosamine sulphate taken in combination with Omega 3 has a significantly more effective outcome relieving the joint than glucosamine sulphate taken alone.
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and optimal bone density, integral to joint health and function.