There are quite a few misunderstandings about glucosamine.
And there are also things that most people don’t know about glucosamine, like that it has effects far beyond improving joint health, like extending lifespan or reducing inflammation.
Most people know glucosamine as a supplement to improve joint pain and osteoarthritis. This makes sense, because glucosamine is part of cartilage.
However, some people, including medical doctors, still believe that glucosamine does not improve joint health or osteoarthritis. They say that the evidence is “inconclusive”.
The reason why there is still so much confusion and wrong advice dispersed around glucosamine is that many glucosamine studies conflict each other. There are studies showing clear benefits from glucosamine, while there are also studies showing that glucosamine does not improve joint health (R,R).
A major problem is that the studies that don’t show an effect of glucosamine often have various shortcomings, such as:
- Often, these studies don’t last long enough. To improve cartilage health, it’s important to take the supplement for many months, ideally 3 to 6 months or even longer, not just a few weeks.
- Often, these studies use the wrong form of glucosamine, namely the glucosamine hydrochloride form and not the glucosamine sulfate form. Studies indicate that the glucosamine sulfate form works better. Which makes sense because sulfate is also an important component of cartilage (R).
- Regarding the studies that do use glucosamine sulfate, it’s important to use a high-quality (e.g. crystalline) glucosamine sulfate supplement, enabling high glucosamine bioavailability and sufficiently high plasma concentration. If the glucosamine sulfate is of lower quality, it will work less well (R,R).
In short, we see that when high-quality, highly-bioavailable crystalline glucosamine sulfate is used, glucosamine can indeed improve joint health (R).
So we do recommend taking glucosamine sulfate for joint health, ideally combined with chondroitin. Taking oral hyaluronic acid can also improve joint health, as does methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM, not be confused with NMN!).
But glucosamine can do much more.
In humans, glucosamine has been associated with reduced mortality ([R](https://ard.bmj.com/content/79/6/829),[R](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3557824/),[R](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2869514/)). Other studies show that glucosamine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease ([R](https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1628),[R](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32253185/)). Glucosamine intake has also been associated with a lower incidence of diabetes measured during an eight year follow-up ([R](https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/01/23/dc19-1836)).
But how can glucosamine extend lifespan and provide various health benefits?
For one thing, glucosamine improves mitochondrial biogenesis (R). This means that glucosamine induces the production of extra mitochondria, which is good. The mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, and the more mitochondria you have, the more energy they can produce to help the cells to maintain themselves well. Exercise also induces new mitochondria.
Glucosamine can also reduce inflammation (R,R). This is very interesting, because the older we get, the more our bodies get inflamed (it’s called “inflammaging”). This smoldering inflammation accelerates the aging process. Glucosamine can reduce inflammaging.
These and many other health benefits explains why glucosamine was one of the very few supplements that have been shown in large human studies to be correlated with increased lifespan (R,R,R). These studies looked at dozens of food supplements to see which ones were associated with reduced mortality. Glucosamine was one of the few that were indeed associated with a longer lifespan.
Given the many health benefits of glucosamine, this very interesting ingredient deserves much more attention besides just being a “healthy joint supplement”.
This is why glucosamine is one of the 12 longevity ingredients in NOVOS Core, the first nutraceutical specifically developed to slow down aging.