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What is glucosamine?

glucosamine supplements capsules
Glucosamine is one of the most popular supplements for wellbeing but are they really worth it? Find out more about its benefits and potential side effects here.

According to a recent survey, we Brits likely spend up to £65,000 on health and wellness over our lifetimes.1 As more of us look for ways to maintain or improve our fitness levels and wellbeing, it’s easy to see why we invest in vitamins and supplements.2

With so many supplements available on the market, it can be challenging to know whether it’s worth adding them to our daily health routines. Glucosamine is one of the most popular supplements out there, but is it really worth the hype?3 We’ve got everything you need to know below.

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a natural sugar compound that occurs in the body and in some other animal and non-organic tissues (like shellfish, fungi, and animal bones).4,5 You can also get glucosamine from supplements, which are typically available in tablet or capsule form (although other varieties, like salves, exist too).

It’s thought that glucosamine helps the body in a range of ways. However, its primary function is to help develop and maintain the cartilage in around joints.6 For that reason, many people choose to supplement their diets with glucosamine to support joint health and reduce inflammation.7,8

Benefits of glucosamine

It’s worth bearing in mind that studies on the benefits of glucosamine are limited. Some evidence suggests that taking these supplements for joint health may not have the effect you want.9 It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing pain or other symptoms.

Nevertheless, there is some evidence to suggest that taking glucosamine could provide certain benefits. These could include:

  • Reduced inflammation10
  • Joint protection11
  • Pain relief12

Remember that the studies to back up these results are reasonably limited and small in scale, which means we can’t be sure about how accurate they are.

Glucosamine side effects

If you are thinking about taking a glucosamine supplement, it’s essential to be aware of its side effects. On the whole, it’s believed to be safe for most people and side effects tend to be rare.13 If you do notice any unwanted side effects, stop taking glucosamine and talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.

Some glucosamine side effects may include:

  • Feeling sick
  • Heartburn
  • Gastrointestinal problems (like diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Headaches
  • Skin reactions14

It’s also worth noting that glucosamine supplements can be made from shellfish shells. If you are allergic to shellfish, you might want to look for synthetic glucosamine or choose an option derived from a different source.15

Glucosamine dosage

If you have decided that glucosamine supplements are right for you, it’s essential to take the correct dosage. Always read the label on your chosen product and follow the instructions carefully.

The usual dosage is 1000mg of glucosamine taken every day. You may need to adjust the amount based on your body weight too.16

It can take a few weeks for you to see results, so it’s a good idea to remain consistent with your regimen. If you don’t notice a change in your symptoms, it may mean that the supplement isn’t working for you.17

Last updated: 31 March 2021

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