Glucosamine Supplements. What you need to know…

Glucosamine dietry supplements have been produced and marketed by pharmacutical companies for the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis for many years. The popularity of this supplement has fluctuated in relation to the reliability of the research to support its use.

Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the cartilage covering joint surfaces caused by wear and tear, improper loading of joints over a long period of time, or by acute injury. This wear and tear can also be caused by reduced production of proteoglycan, an essential component of cartilage, as we age. This results in joint pain and stiffness and degradation of the cartage.

Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is one of the required compounds for the synthesis of proteoglycan. It has been suggested that the supplementation of glucosamine can increase the natural production of proteoglycan and protect the integrity of the cartilage in the joint lines. Some sources suggest that this can also help increase the production of cartilage and synovial fluid (joint lubrication).

There has been suggestion that glucosamine helps stimulate repair responses in many different cells in the body that are responsible for the synthesis of the bone cells, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. This action of building up complex tissues and heightening cell regeneration is the definition of anabolic response. Therefore this anabolic response triggered by the bioavailibility of glucosamine makes it very useful for athletes as it supports the regeneration of important structures that can be challenged and damaged whilst training.

Chondroitin Sulfates have also been suggested to have a role in the reduction of tissue breakdown. It provides the building blocks for tissue repair, helps bind water to hydrate tissue and contains components that are used in the development of collagen and other connective tissues. Often chondroitin is combined with glucosamine to optimise the results of the supplement.

Sounds perfect doesnt it! So what is the catch?
Side effects associated with taking glucosamine have been studied and are considered rare and minor. It is generally safe to take for prevention, but not recommended for long-term use if you have diabetes or high blood pressure as it may affect the metabolism of glucose. So, while glucosamine supplementation appears to be safe, is it effective?

Studies have found there may be some benefit in taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements in the appropriate doses and for a prolonged period of time in patients suffering from osteoarthritis, however, the evidence for the use of glucosamine as a preventative measure is still inconclusive.

Another factor to take in to account is that the majority of the studies conducted in to the efficacy of the use of glucosamine have been conducted by the pharmacutical companies that make the supplements.
So in summary there may be some use in intergrating a good quality glucosamine and chondroitin supplement in to your daily routine if you want to prevent wear and tear or protect your joints when training, BUT before you decide to do so, talk to your GP or Chiropractor for advice on the best brand to choose and to make sure it won’t interfere with any of your other medical conditions and medications.

Written By Dr Charlotte Fox (Doctor of Chiropractic)