Last updated: August 30, 2021

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During youth, people hardly ever pay attention to the health of their joints and body. However, the onset of maturity can give way to the typical pains of old age. The ravages of time can manifest themselves in the form of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint pathology that can produce a real ordeal for those affected.

Glucosamine is a supplement that may help improve joint pain. Combined with a healthy diet, physical exercise, and medical monitoring, this product has the potential to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by joint degeneration. If you want to know everything about this supplement,keep on reading!

Key Facts

  • Glucosamine is a compound necessary for the formation of articular cartilage.
  • This substance is hardly found in the most common foods, so it must be extracted and concentrated in the form of nutritional supplement.
  • When choosing an article containing glucosamine, attention should be paid to the presence of possible allergens, the different presentations available, possible combinations with other ingredients and storage instructions. Remember there are vegan options.

Our Selection: The Best Glucosamine Supplements

We have carefully examined the digital market in our search for the best glucosamine supplements. After discarding those articles with inadequate doses or insufficient quality, we have created a ranking with the most attractive glucosamine-based products. Not only do we say so, but many satisfied consumers endorse these products:

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Glucosamine

Glucosamine is an indispensable substance for the formation of cartilage in the main joints of the human body. For this reason, it has been proven to be used as a possible treatment for joint pain that appears in degenerative processes such as osteoarthritis. Supplements are usually obtained from seafood, although there are vegan alternatives.

Happy Couple at the Kitchen Smiling at Camera

Glucosamine may reduce joint inflammation in some people.
(Source: Racorn: 41689893/

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a special molecule in which sugar is combined with an amino group (an essential component of amino acids). This compound, which experts have classified as an amino sugar, is a precursor of numerous articular cartilage-forming elements, such as hyaluronic acid, heparan sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate.

Most tissues in the body can create glucosamine from glucose. This sticky compound is found in more significant quantities in tendons and joints. Experts believe that, along with collagen, glucosamine is the most essential component for the proper maintenance of a joint structure.

What is osteoarthritis and what role does glucosamine play in its treatment?

Osteoarthritis (also known as osteoarthritis) is a degenerative disease in which joint cartilage progressively deteriorates. Destruction of the joint lining causes friction to the bones, resulting in pain and inflammation. In advanced stages, osteoarthritis can limit movement.

Although osteoarthritis may appear secondary to other diseases (metabolic disorders, infections, or poorly consolidated fractures, among others), the primary form of osteoarthritis is much more common. In this case, joint impairment appears without an underlying cause and is related to the following risk factors:

  • Older Age: The cartilage of our joints deteriorates with movement and must be replaced daily. Unfortunately, aging affects the cartilage's ability to regenerate and its structure. Thus, it is estimated that 60 % of adults over 60 years of age suffer from osteoarthritis in at least one joint.
  • Overweight and Obesity: The incidence of osteoarthritis has been shown to increase in people who are overweight or obese. Logically, the joints of people with excessive weight will suffer greater mechanical stress. In addition, obesity can lead to a state of constant inflammation that accelerates the deterioration of articular cartilage.
  • Genetic Factors: People with a family history of osteoarthritis are more likely (between 36 and 56% more) to suffer from this disease than people without this inheritance.

For the treatment of this common disease, experts recommend weight loss, regular exercise, and rehabilitation. Analgesic drugs such as acetaminophen are also used. Glucosamine is considered an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis because it may relieve symptoms in some people.

Some studies argue that glucosamine supplements may stimulate the creation of healthy cartilage and limit tissue inflammation, contributing to decreased joint pain and improved mobility. These results are very encouraging, although they have not yet been confirmed by the medical industry.

Brent A. BauerInternal Medicine Physician
"Glucosamine is relatively accessible and safe. If other treatments don't work, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether a glucosamine trial is right for you."

Can I get glucosamine from food?

Glucosamine occurs naturally on the outer (exoskeleton) covers of some insects and fungi. It can also be found in the peelings of shrimp, crabs, and prawns, and the ears, snout, and joints of animals such as pigs. Unfortunately, this molecule is not found in red meat or the edible part of shellfish.

A natural way to obtain glucosamine from food is to increase our consumption of animal viscera (through typical dishes such as tripe or giblets) or add the shell of shellfish, previously crushed, to broths and soups. Unfortunately, these options are complicated, uncomfortable, and unappetizing.

What are the benefits of a glucosamine supplement?

A simpler option for increasing our glucosamine levels is the use of nutritional supplements. These articles are made from glucosamine extracted from the exoskeleton of arthropods. There is also an option suitable for vegans, which uses the amino sugars present in the wall of certain fungi.

The effectiveness of this supplement is not without controversy. While some studies have found no difference between the use of glucosamine and placebo in treating joint discomfort, other trials have found that this product provides pain relief similar to that obtained by taking 3 grams of paracetamol.

Healthy green salad

Most glucosamine supplements are obtained from the extract of crustaceans (shrimps, prawns and crabs, among others).
(Source: Svitlana Tereshchenko: 111462226/

Other studies have also found a link between these supplements and increased weight loss in women who are dieting and exercising. This effect has surprised experts, who have not been able to identify the exact mechanism by which this nutritional supplement could be useful in slimming diets.

The truth is that these studies found significant weight loss among women who supplemented with glucosamine and those who took a placebo (5.8 kilograms versus 4 kilograms after several weeks). However, we must remember that for this weight loss to appear, it was necessary to introduce healthy habits such as diet and exercise.

How do I take my glucosamine supplement?

People over the age of 60 who wish to seek an alternative or supplement for their treatment against osteoarthritis and individuals who wish to lose weight to relieve joint discomfort (combining diet and exercise) will benefit from the use of glucosamine. The recommendations for the use of this article are as follows:

  • Recommended dose: No standard dose has been defined for glucosamine supplementation. However, the University of Maryland (USA) recommends a guideline of 1500 milligrams (mg) of glucosamine per day. Most of the items on sale offer presentations of 500, 1000, or 1500 mg in each dose.
  • Moment of supplementation: It is recommended that glucosamine be taken three times a day, dividing the dose into three doses (e.g., 500 mg in the morning, 500 mg at noon and 500 mg at night).
  • With (or without) food: It is advisable to accompany this supplement with food. For example, glucosamine can be taken with the three main meals (breakfast, snack, and dinner) or with a snack.

Glucosamine supplementation should be supported by other non-pharmacological measures to achieve better control of joint pain and osteoarthritis. Weight control, healthy physical activity, and the abandonment of toxic habits (tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs) will contribute to improving the health of our tissues.

Did you know that vegan glucosamine can be obtained by fermenting vegetable sources? For example, there are fungi capable of fermenting corn and creating this active compound, which will be concentrated in the form of a nutritional supplement.

Is glucosamine the most effective supplement for joint care?

Glucosamine is not the only supplement used to preserve joint health. Other compounds, such as chondroitin sulfate and collagen, may be effective in maintaining normal joint function. In the following table, you will find the main characteristics of each of these substances.

Supplement Mechanism of action Potential benefits
Glucosamine Stimulates cartilage metabolism

Reduces joint inflammation

Reduces pain and inflammation

Increase in weight loss (with diet and physical exercise)

Chondroitin sulfate Stimulates the creation of new cartilage

Reduces joint inflammation

Pain and inflammation education
Collagen Reduces cartilage destruction

Repairs damaged cartilage

Reduces joint inflammation

Reduces pain and inflammation

Could prevent joint damage

The three supplements provide similar benefits, as they stimulate the creation of new cartilage and reduce inflammatory tissue processes. It is, therefore, difficult to choose one of the compounds. Depending on our characteristics, we will react better to glucosamine, collagen, or chondroitin sulfate.

What precautions should I take during glucosamine supplementation?

Glucosamine is a supplement considered safe in the field of nutrition and dietetics. It is recommended not to exceed the recommended amount of 1500 mg per day, although no dangerous effects related to accidental ingestion of additional doses of glucosamine have been described so far. However, it is recommended to see a doctor in case of overdose.

On the other hand, unpleasant side effects have been described in relation to the consumption of glucosamine. Some people may experience discomforts, such as fatigue, acne, stomach pain, flatulence, nausea, and vomiting. Other much rarer but more serious adverse effects have also been described, as described in the following list:

  • Headache: Infrequently, headaches have been described in relation to glucosamine supplementation.
  • Asthma attacks: A case of an asthma attack has been described in a person supplemented with glucosamine. For this reason, experts advise caution to asthmatic people who wish to start supplementing with this product.
  • There are some studies that found poorer diabetes control in people supplemented with glucosamine. Other trials did not observe this side effect. Even so, people with diabetes are advised to monitor their glucose more carefully if they wish to supplement this article.

Multi Generation Family Eating Meal Around Kitchen Table

Glucosamine can be combined with other compounds such as collagen and chondroitin sulfate.
(Source: Mark Bowden: 42310016/
  • Hypertension: As in diabetes, there are conflicting reports about the relationship between hypertension and glucosamine. For the safety of consumers, it is advisable to monitor blood pressure more closely during supplementation.
  • Glaucoma: Some sources warn of a possible increase in intraocular pressure with the use of glucosamine. People with glaucoma (a serious eye disease that is associated with increased pressure inside the eyes) should discuss the appropriateness of glucosamine supplementation with their doctor.
  • High blood pressure:Because of its possible effects on blood sugar and blood pressure, it is advisable to discontinue glucosamine supplementation several weeks before undergoing any surgical procedure. In addition, the use of this product should be reported in the preoperative period.

Because glucosamine supplements are primarily used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, a condition that often occurs in older people, they have not been proven safe in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. As a precaution, it is advisable to avoid this supplementation in these individuals.

Finally, it will be necessary to consider the ability of glucosamine to interact with some of the most commonly used treatments. Unfortunately, this supplement may increase or decrease the effectiveness of certain drugs. In the table below, you will find a handy summary of the main drug interactions of glucosamine:

Drug Interaction Risk
Warfarin (anticoagulant) Increased anticoagulant effect Very high. Do not combine (risk of bleeding).
Chemotherapy (cancer treatment medication) Decreased effectiveness of anticancer treatment High. Do not take without medical approval.
Paracetamol Possible decrease in anti-inflammatory effect Unknown. Try to take them separately.

If treatment is chronic, consult a physician.

Oral diabetics Decrease (mild or no) in the effectiveness of antidiabetic Low. Blood sugar monitoring and surveillance are recommended.

Purchase Criteria

Unfortunately, glucosamine supplements are not always strictly regulated, so their effectiveness may be less than advertised. To help you choose a good quality product that really meets your expectations, we have created these purchase criteria. Read them carefully!

Allergens and Intolerances

If you are allergic to fish or shellfish, carefully read the label of your glucosamine supplement before making your purchase. Remember that this substance is often obtained from the exoskeleton (the "shell" or "peel") of shellfish. Traces of these arthropods could trigger a dangerous anaphylactic reaction in allergic people.

Woman celebrating outside

Glucosamine can help repair or replace damaged cartilage.
(Source: Michael Simons: 72425441/

Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you don't need to give up glucosamine supplementation. There are articles synthesized from plant sources rich in this compound that are just as effective as glucosamine of marine origin. This is also a great alternative for those allergic to shellfish.

Form of Presentation

You can buy glucosamine in different formats. You will find this supplement in tablets (easier to store), tablets (without gelatine coating, which makes them suitable for vegetarians) or powder (allows a personalized dosage). Besides, you should pay close attention to the type of glucosamine contained in each article:

  • Glucosamine hydrochloride: It is most popular as a topical treatment for osteoarthritis, in the form of creams that also contain collagen and chondroitin sulfate.
  • N-acetyl glucosamine: This formulation goes beyond the relief of joint discomfort. Its function as an anti-inflammatory drug and as a treatment for autoimmune diseases is investigated.
  • Glucosamine sulfate: The compound most used for the relief of osteoarthritis and the most appreciated by specialists in supplementation.

It is recommended to choose a glucosamine sulfate-based article whenever possible. This active ingredient appears to be more effective than the other two in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is why experts have recommended that it be used before the forms glucosamine hydrochloride or N-acetyl glucosamine.

Additional Ingredients

It is prevalent to combine glucosamine with other substances such as collagen, chondroitin sulfate, and shark cartilage extract to create supplements for joint care. You can use these additional ingredients as long as the glucosamine dose stays within the recommended range of 1500 mg/day.

Beautiful senior couple running outside in sunny autumn forest

Users of anticoagulant medication should abstain from glucosamine supplementation.
(Source: Jozef Polc: 66449461/


Glucosamine supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and aggressive odors. This item should not be refrigerated, as it could lose its properties. The expiry date is approximately three years after manufacture, although it will remain effective until three months after this date.


The joint pain generated by osteoarthritis is a chronic, incessant, and sometimes incapacitating. We don't have to resign ourselves to living in pain. Our doctor of confidence can give us a series of strategies to better face this degenerative pathology. Weight loss, gentle exercise, and analgesic medication will be our allies.

If our usual treatment does not give us the results we expect, glucosamine is a safe and affordable alternative that could improve the condition of our joints, slowing joint destruction and stimulating the creation of healthy cartilage. If you've tried everything, why not give glucosamine a chance?

If you liked our guide to glucosamine supplements, please leave a comment and share this article!

(Featured Image Source: Jirkaejc: 38476614/

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