Glucosamine is a naturally occurring carbohydrate substance in connective tissue. Commercially it is derived from shellfish and comes in glucosamine sulfate, hydrochloride, and often in combination with chondroitin.
Glucosamine has the potential to slow cartilage deterioration in the joints and reduce pain in the process.
Meta-analyses suggest that glucosamine (as sulfate, not hydrochloride) may lead to a slight reduction in symptoms of osteoarthritis, although the results are somewhat inconsistent. It should be noted that the reduction in symptoms is minor, comparable to paracetamol, but not as consistent.
You can safely supplement with glucosamine; the most common side-effect is flatulence.
A standard dose is 300-500 mg three times a day, which adds up to a total daily dose of 900-1,500 mg.
The effectiveness of glucosamine is dose-dependent, and some studies suggest taking up to 2,000-3,000 mg daily, divided into multiple doses.
The most effective forms of glucosamine supplementation are glucosamine sulfate salts, followed by glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine hydrochloride is ineffective, and N-Acetylglucosamine is a distinct supplement that should not be confused with glucosamine.
It is advisable to take glucosamine supplements with food.
Where to find it
You can buy glucosamine supplements at pharmacies and supermarkets. It is usually sold in combination with chondroitin and has similar benefits taken alone or in combination.