How can taking glucosamine supplements improve joint health?

You may have heard about glucosamine supplements and their ability to improve joint health. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is made naturally in the body. It is a vital component of the cartilage that surrounds the joints and it is also found in synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. When naturally occurring, glucosamine begins to break down, cartilage degeneration begins and osteoarthritis may develop.

Arthritis of the spine can affect the facet joints of the spine (the hinges that allow the articulation of vertebrae), and arthritis also can affect the cartilaginous discs in between the vertebrae. Bone spurs or pinched nerves resulting from spinal arthritis can lead to symptoms like tingling, numbness and weakness in the back and extremities. Since glucosamine is a component of healthy joints, some people take glucosamine supplements in an attempt to regenerate joint cartilage and mitigate the discomfort of this condition.

Information about glucosamine

Below are some important facts to know about glucosamine:

  • Composition. It is a non-mineral, non-vitamin dietary supplement, available in capsule and powder form. It is often produced with chondroitin, another amino sugar with similar properties.
  • Lack of FDA approval. Glucosamine has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
  • Shellfish connection. Glucosamine is gleaned from shellfish, though some manufacturers offer corn-derived versions for people with shellfish allergies.

Other conservative treatment methods

If you’re working to improve the health of your joints, there are a number of other lifestyle changes that can improve elasticity and reduce the stress put on your joints. You can engage in mild stretching and low-impact exercise. Drinking plenty of water and eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can aid in joint lubrication. But, remember that you should never begin any course of exercise or dieting, including supplements, without consulting a physician.