Glucosamine: Sources, significance, and side effects
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is the amino acid naturally found in our body. Amino acids are substances that combine to form proteins in the body. Glucosamine chiefly maintains the cartilage (connective tissue) within the joints.
Facts about Glucosamine
- Glucosamine is found in both human and animal tissues
- It is produced from glucose in every tissue of the body
- It is mostly found in cartilage and connective tissue
- It is essential for the glycosaminoglycan(complex carbohydrate on the cell surface) and glycoprotein (a compound containing carbohydrate and protein)synthesis in our body
- Glucosamine is extracted from the crabs, lobster, and prawns as well as shellfish’s exoskeleton for commercial purposes
- Glucosamine supplements are available in tablet form to treat the joint problem , .
- There is no natural food source containing glucosamine. But one can avail of glucosamine from lobster, shellfish, and shrimp supplements. .
Biological Role of Glucosamine
- Glucosamine helps in making glycoprotein and glycosaminoglycan needed for the construction and restoration of cartilage, ligament (connect bone to bone), tendon (connective tissue joining muscle to bone), and synovial fluid (lubricates the cartilage).
- Glucosamine in the body decreases with age and leads to joint pain .
Significance of Glucosamine
Enhances joint health
- Glucosamine maintains the white connective tissue (articular cartilage) that covers the bone ends where they form joints. Articular cartilage, and the synovial fluid in the joint space, decrease resistance and allow easy joint movement.
- Glucosamine also helps in collagen formation and is the vital structural component of the synovial fluid and the cartilage.
- Glucosamine prevents cartilage breakdown.
- Glucosamine, when used with chondroitin supplement, decreases the level of the body’s C-reactive protein (CRP)Chondroitin is a natural component in joint cartilage that helps maintain strong cartilage.C-reactive protein (CRP) is a liver protein that increases during bodily injury.
- It lowers the risk of inflammatory-mediated conditions such as type 2 diabetes(high sugar level in the body)
However, more research is required to prove this fact,
Treats bone disorders
- Glucosamine supplements reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients
- It maintains the joint space
- It inhibits the disease progression
However, more research is wanted to prove its effects
Treats temporomandibular joint disorder
- The temporomandibular joint disorder causes pain in the jaw(mouth) joint and jaw muscles.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements taken together decreased the jaw pain and improve the jaw movement
However, more studies are required to prove its efficiency
Treats inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome is the long-term swelling and redness of the intestine with stomach gas, pain, and watery stool (diarrhea)
- Glucosamine supplements reduces the symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Glaucoma is an eye disease that attacks the optic nerve and causes blindness.
- The optic nerve is present at the back of our eyes and transfers visual information from the brain to the eyes that, enable one to see
- Glucosamine decreases inflammation and prevents cell damage to the retina
- Multiple sclerosis is a condition of the brain and the spinal cord in which the immune system damages the healthy cells of our body, viz, myelin sheath covering the nerve fiber.
- Multiple sclerosis causes communication difficulties between the brain and other body parts and leads to problems in walking, talking, etc. Glucosamine helps in myelin repair of multiple sclerosis disease However, there is limited research to support the fact
- Interstitial cystitis is a long-term bladder problem causing pain and discomfort in the bladder and pelvic(hip) area. It is caused due to deficiency of glucosaminoglycan naturally, our body converts Glucosamine to glucose aminoglycan so taking glucosamine supplements helps treat interstitial cystitis
- Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of body cells glucosamine inhibits the abnormal cell growth
- Glucosamine and chondroitin, when taken together reduces the threat of colorectal cancer. In colorectal cancer, there is an abnormal growth in the inner colon lining (the longest part of the large intestine)
Who shouldn’t consume glucosamine?
People with the following condition should refrain from taking Glucosamine
- Diabetes (high blood sugar)
- Hypertension(high blood pressure)
- Hypercholesterolemia (High blood cholesterol)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Hepatitis(Swelling of the liver due to viral infection)
- Cancer (abnormal cell growth)
- Asthma (lung disease causing breathing difficulty)
- Coronary heart disease (blood flow issue due to wax deposition in the blood vessels)
- Allergic (sensitivity reaction) to shellfish
- Family history of glaucoma(an eye disease that attacks the optic nerve and causes vision loss)
- Pregnant and nursing mothers (due to lack of evidence on its safety)
Dosage of Glucosamine
The usual dose of Glucosamine is 1500-3000 mg daily, which can be taken as one single dose or as a smaller dose 3 to 4 times a day.
Forms of Glucosamine supplements
There are three forms of glucose supplements available commercially, viz;
- Glucosamine hydrochloride
- Glucosamine Sulfate
- N-acetyl Glucosamine
People consuming Glucosamine Sulfate supplements have been found to relieve their osteoarthritis pain,
The leading cause of glucosamine deficiency is the person’s growing age, which is generally unavoidable.
Glucosamine deficiency symptoms
- Severe joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of muscle fiber
- Bone breakage
Side effects of Glucosamine
- Stomach pain
- Diarrhea (watery stool)
- Constipation (difficulty in clearing bowels)
- Stomach gas (bloating)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin rashes
- Swelling of the face
Interactions of Glucosamine
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Taking Glucosamine and NSAID together
- It increases the anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDS
- It can cause abdominal bleeding
Taking Glucosamine and coumadin together
- It increases the anti-platelet effect of coumadin
- It can lead to profuse bleeding
Taking Glucosamine with cancer medicines
- It increases the cell growth and reduces the impact of the drug
Taking glucosamine and antidiabetic medicines
- It increases the blood sugar level
- It decreases the effectiveness of the drug
- Taking Glucosamine and acetaminophen impacts the effectiveness of the drug.
Some other drugs that interact with Glucosamine
Glucosamine might lower the effectiveness of the following medicines-
- Glucosamine is an essential compound in our body for maintaining strong joints.
- Glucosamine supplements are available commercially and are used to treat various conditions of bone and joints.
- Glucosamine is safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses without health conditions.
- More research is warranted to support its evidence in treating prolonged osteoarthritis symptoms.
- One should consult a registered healthcare professional before starting a glucosamine tablet or supplement for any treatment.