Glucosamine is a compound naturally present in the body, animal bones, shellfish, and in some fungi. It is produced from the combination of the amino acid glutamine and glucose. The body uses glucosamine to manufacture cartilages, the connective tissue that cushions the joints. In younger adults, the human body produces enough glucosamine to form healthy cartilages. However, this process diminishes as people grow older and thus, increases the risk for joint health problems in older adults.
There are three forms of glucosamine supplements available in the market today namely Glucosamine Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, and N-acetyl-Glucosamine. Sulfate is the most commercially available form. It is formed from the combination of glucosamine to a sulphate or salt that helps transport it into the different parts of the body, including the joints. Compared to the others, it is the most bio-available form making it very useful for joint health. Experts consider this form as the most valuable in managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The second form, Glucosamine Hydrochloride can also be used for joint support. Although there are debates on the benefits for joint pain management in osteoarthritis, scientists believe that it becomes more effective when used with chondroitin sulphate. It is also more affordable compared to Sulfate due to lowered production cost. Lastly, N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) is a form attached to acetic acid, a larger and more complex molecule. Its more complicated structure means NAG is absorbed more slowly in the body compared to Sulphate and Hydrochloride.
Glucosamine is recommended for joint care, especially in older adults suffering from the painful and debilitating symptoms of Osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition affecting the joints, wherein the cartilages cushioning the bones are torn from mechanical wear over the years. Damaged cartilages cause the bones to come in contact with each other causing friction, which then leads to pain and inflammation. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include severe joint pain, stiffness that is worse in the morning, tenderness, joint immobility, presence of bone spurs or hard lumps that can form around the arthritic joint, and grating sensation.
Research has shown that Glucosamine can be more effective when used together with Chondroitin Sulfate, a natural compound also present in cartilages. Chondroitin sulphate supplements are produced from animal cartilages like cow cartilage. Recent studies suggest that Glucosamine combined with Omega-3, an essential fatty acid derived from fatty fishes and safflower oil is the new tandem for optimum joint care.
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