Glucosamine: The Best Balance
In Part 1, I looked at whether the claims that are made about Glucosamine are backed up by the science.
In Part 2, I examined what other substances are commonly recommended to take with Glucosamine and the claims about their effectiveness.
This last post in the series is looking at the even bigger picture and seeing if there is a sensible balance to be struck when supplementing for joint health.
Glucosamine, undoubtedly, is part of the group of molecules and substances that make up the basis for constructing joint cartilage (hyaline articular cartilage). It plays a vital role in cartilage synthesis and there is some research that suggests that increasing the amount of it in the diet is beneficial in some groups of people.
The creation of the structure of the cartilage is important, but to enable the cartilage to cushion effectively, it needs a high level of hydration.
In my experience, people who increase the level of water in their diet have as much benefit or more than those who choose to supplement Glucosamine.
Other useful things to note
There is some evidence that Omega 3/6 fatty acids contained in substances like flax seed / fresh oily fish have an anti-inflammatory effect and can be potentially more useful in protecting against the progression of joint degeneration diseases.
Anthocyanidins (found in dark skinned fruits – grapeseed / bilberries) have been shown to have beneficial effects on the synthesis and repair of collagen, another important part of the cartilage structure not to be ignored.
Copper has shown protective properties in relation to joint cartilage, protecting cartilage from the destructive effects of substances released by synovium (M. Pasqualicchio et al.), so ensuring you aren’t copper deficient is important.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is vital in protein cross-linking, part of the strength of cartilage, and Riboflavin deficiency interrupts to this process and therefore causes damage to proteins.
A Final Word
When I’m advising people that ask for my opinion on whether or not to take Glucosamine, I tend to summarise the majority of what I have shared in these three posts into the following list:
- Drink More Water
- If you want to take Glucosamine, try to get Glucosamine HCl ( because it is 50% more bioavailable – easy for the body to use)
- Supplement at least 1500mg daily to maximise any potential benefit.
- If you can only get Glucosamine Sulphate, make sure it is not stabilised by common salt (NaCl)
- Evaluate which ‘partner substance you might want to include (if any)
- Cartilage is connective tissue so anything that improves connective tissue health should be beneficial
- Consider the other alternatives (see above)
- Underpin everything with general good nutrition
Lastly, in my view, if you think, on trying it, that Glucosamine is beneficial for you, then take it. Even if it is just utilising the placebo effect, we have seen in the previous post that the placebo effect can be very powerful.
On the flip side, if you take Glucosamine and find that it makes little or no difference, then don’t waste your money on something you don’t think is working.
It is possible that it can take up to 3 months for a supplement to take noticeable effect, so it may well be something you need to try for a while before you make a decision.
Glucosamine; whilst the jury is still out on the evidence, many people claim anecdotal benefit. Realistically, it ends up being personal choice, everybody responds differently, it might be great for you.