Joint and bone pain can result from wear and tear on the body, aging, not consuming enough bones and strengthening the joints, loss of cartilage, arthritic conditions and more. Older adults can attest to the importance of bone and joint health because almost 50% of those 65 and older have arthritis.
Your skeletal system includes 206 different bones and is the framework of your body. It structures your body and allows you to move in various ways while protecting your internal organs. Improving the health of your bones and joints at all ages can help improve your overall health and your quality of life.
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Importance of joint health
To understand how glucosamine can benefit joint health, you must understand what joints are, what they are made of and how they work. The joints are connections between the bones of your body, and the ones that we will focus on are the mobile joints. They include cartilage, which is a firm but flexible and rubbery connective tissue. There are usually fibrous connective tissues called ligaments around the joint. The joints are lubricated to allow a smooth movement through a synovial membrane that produces the lubricant, synovial fluid.
What is glucosamine?
It is a substance made up of sugars and proteins linked together that can be found in some food sources, such as bone broth and crustacean shells, such as shrimp, lobster, and crab. It can also be derived from certain plant sources for complementary purposes. It also occurs in the human body and plays a key role in the construction of cartilage. Originally it was used as a supplement for racehorses to strengthen their joints and bones for race tracks.
There are three forms of glucosamine, two of which are typically used glucosamine supplements.
Glucosamine sulfate, which is the most studied form, has been found to be able to control the symptoms of osteoarthritis according to several studies.
It can also be found in the form of glucosamine hydrochloride, which has not been as widely studied. However, there is evidence that glucosamine hydrochloride may be more bioavailable than glucosamine sulfate. Some glucosamine hydrochloride supplements are derived from plant sources and are known to have more gastrointestinal side effects.
The third form of glucosamine, N-acetyl glucosamine, is obtained directly from shellfish and can be used to make chitosan. It is not commonly used as a glucosamine supplement. Glucosamine hydroxide is another available form that is generally not used for supplementation. In total, there are four forms of glucosamine.
What are the uses and benefits of glucosamine?
There are many important benefits of glucosamine that can help your health. All these benefits can be very effective in improving the quality of life, longevity and physical health.
- Help reduce inflammation
- Help improve cartilage health
- Help improve the health of the immune system
- May reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Help reduce osteoarthritic pain
- Help reduce joint swelling and stiffness
- Help improve bone strength and density
- Can improve knee function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee
Who can benefit from glucosamine?
This list examines the types of people who may have increased the benefits of glucosamine supplements.
- Those who are young – Young people can greatly benefit from the bulk of glucosamine through the preservation of joint health. When most people are young, their joints and bones and cartilage are quite healthy, as they have not worn away over time. As you get older, move a lot, or do not move enough, you can take a toll on the condition of your cartilage and synovial fluid. Your cartilage can be ground down, lose your rubber mattress, tense and harden. Your joint synovial fluid may lose its viscosity, not to reduce its lubricating effects on the joints. Glucosamine retains the rubber cushion of your cartilage and connective tissues and the viscosity of your synovial fluid.
- Older People – Taking glucosamine supplements in your older years can help rejuvenate the health of your joints and connective tissues, resulting in better overall health and a reduction in joint pain. Glucosamine can stimulate the growth of cartilage to counteract the damage of wear and can help improve the viscosity of the synovial fluid in your joints.
- People with osteoarthritis – Those who have osteoarthritis, or OA, can benefit from taking glucosamine. OA is a condition in which aging and the use of joint wear on the cartilage over time reduce the cartilage between the joints and cause pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, and swelling. Glucosamine sulfate has been studied for its efficacy in reducing pain symptoms in patients with OA, and studies have shown that it can reduce the needs of NSAID patients. This means that patients with OA can be supplemented with glucosamine, a natural alternative, to reduce the dose of analgesics they need. It has also been found to help pain for up to three months.
- People with rheumatoid arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis ORRA, is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints in the body. Glucosamine is less effective for RA than it is for OA, but it can help reduce inflammation. By reducing inflammation, glucosamine can slightly reduce pain and joint stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, reducing the doses of pain medication they may need.
- People with TMJ disorder – TMJ disorder, also known as a temporomandibular joint disorder, is a disorder that causes pain and reduced mobility of the jaw. Symptoms include pain in the jaw, neck, and shoulders, difficulty chewing, problems opening the mouth, toothache, headaches and more.
- Overweight people – Being overweight or obese puts a lot more stress on the joints and bones, increasing the likelihood of developing OA and RA. Glucosamine can be particularly beneficial in reducing joint wear by improving the viscosity of the synovial fluid and the cushioning of the cartilage.
- Those who are athletes – Athletes also exert greater pressure on their joints, causing more wear on the cartilage and joints and exerting more pressure on the joints and bones. Taking glucosamine can help the health of your joints. It can also help reduce joint pain caused by exercise and exertion, which helps improve athletic performance and endurance.