Glucosamine is a building block of cartilage and is naturally found in fluid surrounding the joints. As we age, our bodies’ ability to produce this ingredient often reduces. Glucosamine isn’t found in any major food source, but is available as a supplement. Cartilage is a connective tissue found in several parts of the body. It’s an important component of joints, as it reduces friction and helps cushion them, but it can wear down over time.
Age, illness, weight and overuse of joints can all contribute to the wearing down of cartilage and joints, but there are things you can do to help maintain healthy joints. These include eating a varied and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping fit and active.
What are glucosamine supplements?
Supplements containing glucosamine are available in many shops, pharmacies and supermarkets.
There are different strengths of glucosamine supplements available. Some glucosamine supplements also contain chondroitin, which is a naturally occurring component of connective tissue, found in joint cartilage and bone.
Most glucosamine supplements have been formulated with extra ingredients which can help maintain healthy cartilage and bones.
Food supplements are intended to supplement the diet and should not be substituted for a varied diet or healthy lifestyle.
How to take glucosamine supplements
Glucosamine tablets or capsules are usually taken once a day with plenty of fluid. Make sure you read the instructions on the pack for full details on how to take your supplement.
If you’re considering taking a glucosamine supplement you should consult your doctor or pharmacist if:
- You’re taking any medication, especially warfarin or other blood thinning medication
- You’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- You’re breastfeeding
- Have diabetes
Is glucosamine suitable for vegetarians or vegans?
The glucosamine in glucosamine supplements usually originates from the shells of crustaceans, meaning they’re not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, vegetarian alternatives are available.
The chondroitin found in some glucosamine supplements is usually manufactured from the cartilage of animals such as chickens. The vegetarian alternative usually contains methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Similarly to chondroitin, MSM is another important building block in the joints, which can be made synthetically. So when produced this way, MSM is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.