Healthy Ageing, Joint Care

What is Glucosamine Sulphate? What is it used for?

Glucosamine sulphate is a substance that is made naturally in your body and is found in your joints. It is made up from sugar (glucose) and an amine group (NH2) and is found in structures associated with healthy working joints.

The body uses glucosamine to make another type of substance and this forms the basis for new connective tissue. As we age, we become less able to renew our tissues, we are less effective at combating inflammation in the body (which causes pain) causing our physical tissues to slowly degenerate.1 When joints become damaged or worn, our body needs more of the building blocks it uses to renew or replace what is damaged. In damaged joints there is an increased need for glucosamine and the body’s renewal of joints can be limited by a short supply.

Glucosamine is found in:

  • Cartilage – the softer tissue that surrounds the end of your bones between joints and stops them from grinding together
  • Synovial fluid – the lubricating fluid around the joints which cushions movement and impact
  • Tendons – these connect muscle to bone
  • Ligaments – stretchy elastic connective tissue that hold bones to other bones in the joints

Sources and Absorption

Glucosamine is not easily available from food, especially since the best source of it is found in the shells of shellfish – which not many of us regularly eat. This is exactly the source that is used in the production of glucosamine found in supplements.
Glucosamine supplements are available in both Glucosamine Sulphate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride forms but Glucosamine Sulphate is the most researched and widely used including as a drug for osteoarthritis in parts of Europe. Research has proven that taking a supplement in the form of a tablet increases levels of glucosamine both in your blood AND in the synovial fluid in your joints2. This was demonstrated in osteoarthritic patients.  So, orally supplemented glucosamine can reach the connective tissue for renewal and repair.

What is Glucosamine used for?

As already discussed Glucosamine is used to help the body to repair damaged joints s and this process can be slowed down by a lack of glucosamine in the joints. Studies on the use of glucosamine sulphate on joints have all been conducted on those with diagnosed osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is common in the UK, an estimated 6 million people suffer from it3 and 1 in 5 suffer from osteoarthritic joint pain in the knee between ages 50-59, rising to 1 in 2 in the over 80s3. It should be noted that the first signs of possible degenerative joint disease e.g. arthritis are stiffness in the morning, back pain, stiff joints or recurrent joint injury.

Many scientific studies have shown that glucosamine improves joint pain and medically-approved measures of severity of osteoarthritis. The results of studies conducted between 1980 and 2002 were pooled, standardised and reviewed (called a comprehensive meta-analysis) in 20034. The conclusion drawn was that glucosamine is effective for the relief of osteoarthritic symptoms both in terms of symptom relief e.g. pain and in improving the structure of joints4. Most studies use 1500mg a day of glucosamine sulphate as the therapeutic dose. Subsequently, there have been conflicting results regarding efficacy of glucosamine supplementation, the Cochrane Collaboration, a non-profit, global and widely regarded review panel concluded in 2008 that the jury is still out5. Although it also states that there have been many successful studies for the use of Glucosamine Sulphate and it is the details of specific chemical forms, how much, when and for whom that need to be confirmed5. A study in 1982 compared how effective glucosamine and ibuprofen were for pain relief in osteoarthritic knees. Whilst ibuprofen was more effective in the short term (2 weeks), 8 weeks into the study glucosamine sulphate reduced pain more effectively, with fewer side effects6.

Safety

Glucosamine has an excellent safety record, a review of the studies on side effects including 3063 people showed that no serious side effects have been reported, it concluded that it is safe to use7.   People who are allergic to shellfish should avoid supplementation as a precaution.

References:

1 Salminen A, Kaarniranta K, 2009, NF-κB Signaling in the Aging Process, Journal of Clinical Immunology, 29:397-405
2 Persiani S, Rotini R, Trisolino G, Rovati LC, Locatelli M, Paganini D, Antonioli D, Roda A, 2007, Synovial and plasma glucosamine concentrations in osteoarthritic patients following oral crystalline glucosamine sulphate at therapeutic dose, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 15:764-772
3 Arthritis Research in the Uk. Arthritis Research Key facts. Retrieved: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/pdf/Arthritis%20Key%20Facts.pdf  on 30/03/11
4 Richy F, Bruyere O, Ethgen O, Cucherat M, Henrotin Y, Reginster J-Y, 2003, Structural and Symptomatic Efficacy of Glucosamine and Chondroitin in Knee Osteoarthritis. A comprehensive meta-analysis, Archives of Internal Medicine, 163:1514-1522
5 Bijlsma JWJ, Floris PJG Lafeber, 2008, Glucosamine Sulphate in Osteoarthritis, Annals of Intenal Medicine, 148:315-316
6 Vaz Al, 1982, Double-blind clinical evaluation of the relative efficacy of ibuprofen and glucosamine sulphate in the management of osteoarthrosis of the  knee in outpatients, Current Medical  Research and Opinion, 8:145-146
7 Anderson JW, Nicolosi RJ, Borzelleca JF, 2004, Glucosamine effects in humans: a review of effects on glucosamine metabolism, side effects, safety considerations and efficacy, Food and Chemical Toxicology, 43:187-201

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Natural Joint Health and Nutrition
Joint Health differs throughout the UK – tell Us what you think?
Does Your Profession Effect Your Joint Health?
The Nation’s Joint Pain also hurts our bank balance
The UK’s Joint Health in pictures
What is Glucosamine Sulphate

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Disclaimer: Seven Seas Life is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The articles are based on peer reviewed research, and discoveries/products mentioned in the articles may not be approved by our regulatory bodies, you will find no mention of Seven Seas products within the pages of the Seven Seas Life Section..Read more

Disclaimer: Seven Seas Life is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The articles are based on peer reviewed research, and discoveries/products mentioned in the articles may not be approved by our regulatory bodies, you will find no mention of Seven Seas products within the pages of the Seven Seas Life Section..Read more

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Comments

  1. susan england says:

    can diabetics use glucosamine

  2. frances blackley says:

    500mg of clucosamine does this amount help your bones

  3. SevenSeasLife says:

    Dear Frances,

    Your enquiry has been passed onto our Advice Team who are best placed to respond to your query. You will shortly receive an answer to your questions from the following email account:

    info@sseas.com

    Thank you for contacting Seven Seas Life for advice.

    Seven Seas Life Team

  4. SevenSeasLife says:

    Glucosamine which, upon digestion, does release a small quantity of glucose (a diabetically-active sugar) into the bloodstream. However, the quantities of glucose released from glucosamine are in less than one gram for a product which provides 1500 mg of Glucosamine and, in most cases, there is insufficient glucose released from the glucosamine to initiate any diabetic response.

    In fact most diabetics are able to handle small quantities of glucose released such as this without any ill-effects.

    However if you have any concerns about your personal levels, we would recommend that you seek the advice of your general practitioner, who is fully aware of your medical history and best placed to advise you on this matter.

  5. Ellen says:

    can i use Glucosamine if i have a stomach Ulcer will it affect me

  6. SevenSeasLife says:

    Ellen,

    Thanks for your query on any potential interaction between glucosamine and stomach ulcers. Unfortunately it is not possible to give you a short “yes” or “no” answer in your particular case. A decision on whether glucosamine would cause any issues with your stomach ulcer need to be based on in depth information we do not have access to, such as your full medical condition, any prescribed medication you are taking, and which glucosamine and/or glucosamine supplement you are considering taking. But we can confirm that we know of no evidence to suggest that the ingredient “glucosamine” would interact with a stomach ulcer.

    But you should be aware are two types of glucosamine, which is generally available in food supplements and these are glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride. Usually Glucosame sulphate is sourced from shellfish and glucosamine hydrochloride is synethically sourced. Often glucosamine supplements are provided in tablet, capsule or liquid form with additional nutrients such as fish oils, vitamin D, vitamin C, chondroitin and a number of other nutrients and ingredients, so its worthwhile checking the ingredients list of the product you are thinking of taking.

    As you will be very aware, stomach ulcers can be aggravated by any foods or ingredients which you are particularly sensitive to. You will therefore need to review any product you are thinking of taking and cross check the ingredients panel to ensure that the product does not contain any of these ingredients which you know cause problems when consumed.

    Often patients with stomach ulcers are prescribed medication and we would suggest that you also review this product with your health professional i.e. doctor, to ensure that they is no known interactions between the two.

    Whilst this answer does not give a definite yes or no, we hope the information is helpful to you in deciding whether you should take glucosamine or not.

    Kind Regards,
    Seven Seas Life Team

  7. ANIRUDH KUMAR says:

    Does glucosamine have any side effects in the long run?

  8. SevenSeasLife says:

    There are a couple of different types of glucosamine:

    Glucosamine Sulphate is sourced from shellfish – so anyone with a shellfish allergy should not take the product and Glucosamine Hydrocholoride is synthetic manufactured – so this could be one option for you to take if you have shellfish allergy. There is no confirmed evidence to suggest that glucosamine, taken at the recommended daily dose, would have any side effects, but if you have any concerns, or are taken any medication, please seek the advice of your local health professional, as they are fully aware of your medical needs and best placed to advise you.

    Kind Regards
    Seven Seas Life Team

  9. Pat Relph says:

    I take Warfarin what effect will Glucosamine Sulphate have on my INR readings. Thank you.

  10. SevenSeasLife says:

    Hi Pat – thanks for your question.

    There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that there may be an interaction between glucosamine sulphate and warfarin. However, there is no information on any dose-relationship between glucosamine and a potential increase in the International Normalised Ration (INR), a measure of blood clotting, or the intake of glucosamine which may interact with warfarin.
    Anyone being treated with warfarin or other drugs affecting blood clotting should consult a physician before taking a supplement such as glucosamine.

  11. Andrew says:

    Hi,

    Im 26 and am very active, I have started taking Glucosamine Sulphate daily (2 x 1000mg) as both sides of the family have history of arthritis. Firstly am I taking too much daily when i’m fit and healthy and will taking it in my 20′s benifit me when im older?

  12. SevenSeasLife says:

    Hi Andrew – I have passed your query onto the Seven Seas Customer Advice Team who will respond to you directly.

  13. Darlene Drefs says:

    Hello:

    I will soon turn 80 and my dentist recommended I take Glucosamine Sulphate for TMJ. I am already on Glucosamine Chondroitin. Is it okay to take both of these or should I just be taking the one?

    Thank you.

  14. SevenSeasLife says:

    Glucosamine and Chondroitin are actually two different nutrients and not one ingredient – so you may find that the product you are already taking contains ‘Glucosamine Sulphate’ alongside the ‘Chondroitin nutrient’ – in which case you would not need to purchase a second product. However should you wish to consume a second ‘Glucosamine Sulphate’ product that this would be acceptable as these nutrients are not fat soluble and cannot be stored by the liver.
    Seven Seas Life Team

  15. s bradd says:

    when will i feel the benifit of taking glucosamine sulphate tablets, weeks , months
    tks

  16. SevenSeasLife says:

    There is no fixed period, but most studies show an effect after taking the product for a minimum of 3 months (90 days).

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