What is Glucosamine?
The substance is a naturally occurring sugar compound found in the human body. The name originates from the two major components, Glucose and Glutamine (an amino acid). Naturally occurring Glucosamine plays a role in the development and maintenance of cartilage which acts as a cushion and lubricant in the joints. As we age, the body's natural production of substance begins to slow down.
Starting as early as the late 1800s, a lab was able to reproduce the compound and it has since been refined for use as a dietary supplement. The theory behind supplementation is that consumption may help the body to replace what is lost due to age-related decline in natural production. Glucosamine has become one of the top-selling natural supplements worldwide and is typically recommended to those who are suffering from Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, or other conditions involving joint deterioration.
Is it Safe?
Generally speaking, the medical community agrees that it is safe when taken in moderate amounts. The results of many clinical studies helped researches conclude that it was safe for human consumption. This doesn't mean that it is safe for everyone. It is best to consult with a physician before adding it to your daily routine.
One drawback to artificial Glucosamine joint supplements is that many of them contain some form of shellfish. This can prevent people with certain allergies from being able to use them. There are other concerns as well and it is always a good idea to discuss any specific concerns with your physician.
Are Supplements Effective?
Several prominent recent studies have called into question the effectiveness of these supplements. In a study published February, 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine; a Glucosamine supplement performed no better than a placebo in slowing cartilage loss in a statistically significant group of Osteoarthritis patients over the course of 2 years.
In a more recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2008), researchers concluded that it provided no benefit for hip Arthritis. Some medical professionals have suggested that the synthetic Glucosamine molecule is too large to effectively be absorbed into the body. Despite this mounting evidence suggesting that the synthetic compound does not offer much in the way of health benefits, it remains one of the top-selling dietary supplements on the market thanks to the strong marketing efforts of supplement manufacturers.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There has been growing sentiment in the medical community that products high in antioxidants and those containing ingredients with known anti-inflammatory properties could offer much more in the way of benefits for those suffering from joint related ailments. Ingredients such as Cherry, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Green Tea Extract, and Avocado all have properties that can offer benefits for joint health problems. One product that is growing in popularity in recent years is Natural Joint, produced by Greek Island Labs.
This joint supplement uses key elements of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle to promote healthy joint function without using Glucosamine. It is rich in ingredients that are high in antioxidants and is fast becoming a popular alternative to traditional joint supplement products. The important point to remember is that Glucosamine is not your only option for dealing with joint problems. There are alternatives to the capsules and chances are good that you may even see better results with something that has ingredients that offer more nutrients and far greater potential for real benefits.