What is glucosamine for?

Many people take glucosamine today. But do they know what it really does in the body?

What is glucosamine for?

The body produces glucosamine to form part of cartilage. Cartilage is the cushioning between bones, so they don’t grind against each other at the joints.

People eat glucosamine in the hope that they replenish the glucosamine that has depleted in their joints with old age and wear and tear.

Before you look for the best glucosamine chondroitin supplement

Does glucosamine chondroitin work? Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But here’s a word of caution about glucosamine products.


If it works, it could very well lead to dependence in the long run. Why? By directly taking a substance your body is supposed to produce, you are telling your body that it’s okay to not produce so much of it.

Your body uses a complex series of chemical processes to make glucosamine. To directly supplement it does not help in fighting aging at all.

Let’s say you are old and your body is not producing so much glucosamine anymore, so you feel pain in your knees when you walk. You eat glucosamine supplements. Your body gets used to having glucosamine supplied to it.

If you eat more than what you lack, your body thinks, oh! I don’t have to work so hard to produce the current amount of glucosamine anymore. I’ll make less glucosamine from now on.

So over time, your body not only doesn’t regain the glucosamine production ability it had before, it becomes even more disabled. When you stop taking the glucosamine supplement, your glucosamine runs out and your body can’t replenish it. It has become dependent on the glucosamine supplement. Taking the supplement did not improve your health but worsened it–regardless of whether it was the best glucosamine chondroitin supplement.

Less than ideal sources

Did you know that the glucosamine in supplements is taken from:

  • Shellfish, which presents a risk of allergies and heavy metal contamination
  • Shark, which raises animal conservation concerns
  • Cow, which is not preferable to vegetarians
  • Laboratories, which isolate the glucosamine, increasing the risk of overdose and imbalance in the body

There are glucosamine products that use a combination of the above, such as

Is there a safe, beneficial alternative?

Taking what I’ve mentioned into consideration, I would think twice about taking extra effective glucosamine supplements.

Yes, there is an alternative strategy that produces lasting results: increase your glucosamine production within. Here’s how.

Eat glutamine rich plant foods

Glutamine is one of the nutrients your body needs from food to make glucosamine. Foods rich in glutamine include raw parsley and spinach.

It’s important to eat glutamine rich plant foods instead of glutamine by itself, because plant foods have many other nutrients that your body also needs, especially in old age. These include antioxidants, phytochemicals, and polysaccharides that nourish all parts of the body.

You’re aging everywhere

Let’s not forget that joints aren’t the only parts of the body that suffer wear and tear with age. The immune system and all other parts of the body age too. They are all interconnected. If one part ages, other parts will become less efficient as well.

So to truly keep cartilage healthy, go for a big picture strategy that maintains the body as a whole. Start with the immune system, because it helps to keep diseases and malfunctioning at bay.

2 Comments on "What is glucosamine for?"

  1. Hello Regina,

    I just accidently discovered your blog and I really like it. It seems that you’re writing with passion and really want to help people!

    I personally take special supplements for joints with glucosamine. I lift weights 4 times a week, and my knee sometimes hurts. When I started using these supplements, pain decreased. It seems that it helps.


    1. Hi Julius, no harm increasing your glutamine intake then, since you are still young! Do consider it and at the same time slowly decrease your glucosamine supplementation. It will benefit you more in the long term.

      Some things out there do what they say, but may not be as safe as people assume they are. Take vitamins for example. In the past people took them thinking they’re good for health. But recent research has shown that taking isolated vitamins increases risk of certain diseases.

      Another example is breastfeeding. We are still experiencing the effects of formula advertising even though breastmilk is better for babies. People still feel more secure with formula, when it’s inferior!

      So be very careful with synthetic “nutrients”. It’s not as straightforward as eating the direct.


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