Joints and glucosamine - It’s not all offal

Glucosamine occurs naturally in all forms of healthy ligament, tendon and cartilage. It’s found in the shells of seafood such as prawns and lobsters and all the parts of animals that we usually disregard like tails, feet, head, ears, snout and tendons.

It has been shown that the production of glucosamine slows with ageing, when people need it the most.

What does glucosamine do?

Glucosamine is not only responsible for stimulating the manufacture of substances necessary for proper joint function; it is also responsible for stimulating joint repair. Glucosamine plays an important part in the maintenance, formation and repair of tendons, ligaments and cartilage. It supports your joints from impact and wear and tear.

Why might we need glucosamine supplements?

A change in eating habits since the 1950’s, when rationing finished in the UK, has led to a decrease in consumption of glucosamine containing foods. Eating pig trotters and preparing bone broth are not exactly in fashion. However, an increase in awareness of the importance of physical fitness, especially in the older population where osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, has led to a resurgence of interest in the health benefits of these foods.

Who might be interested in glucosamine supplementation?

The ageing population is increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medicines in the form of supplements.

  • There are currently no treatments for osteoarthritis that modify disease progression; therefore, analgesic drugs and joint replacement for larger joints are the standard treatment.

Athletes, weight trainers and fitness enthusiasts.

  • Most people who are involved in regular high intensity physical activity will experience aches and pains in the joints occasionally, or even as a regular basis.
  • Conventional treatment for such injuries or wear and tear discomfort has been pain relief with non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
  • The US Federal Drug Agency in January 2014 advised against the use of such drugs citing research that revealed a raised risk of heart disease and stroke when taking such drugs regularly for joint pain.

Glucosamine supplements are therefore often considered as a safe alternative by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to use for joint support to avoid the side effects of NSAIDs.

What’s the evidence?

There is a plethora of global research evidence supporting the claim that glucosamine supplements are both safe and effective. One of the best-known trials examining the effectiveness of glucosamine sulphate was a three year, double blind study of 212 people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants receiving glucosamine showed reduced symptoms as compared to those receiving a placebo.

An Australian study found that supplementation with glucosamine products has increased since 2001 to the point where between 15 and 33% of Australian adults aged over 45 take glucosamine supplements. This is partly due to lifestyle changes as people become more aware of their ability to manage their own health and fitness and partly to media coverage of the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of diseases difficult for mainstream medicine to treat effectively.

Conclusion

To make sure you are doing everything possible to keep your joints supple and healthy you can either visit the local butcher for offal and cartilage-rich off-cuts or simply take a pill from a reputable source such as Joint from FutureYou a high-strength, one-a-day glucosamine sulphate supplement.

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