Glucosamine and Joint Health

Glucosamine sulfate is a chemical produced by our bodies to support our joints and healthy joint function, especially that of our joint cartilage and the fluid inside of our joints [1].  As we age, taking a supplement that includes glucosamine sulfate is one way to help maintain good joint health.  

In Europe, glucosamine is often taken in doses of 1500 mg per day for the support of healthy joints.  The most recent, highest quality clinical trial results comparing glucosamine sulfate to a placebo, involving the largest number of participants, were published in Europe in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2007.

Two different research studies were published (in 2001[2] and 2003[3]) involving the data from a clinical trial that was conducted over the course of three years in Belgium and involved more than 200 participants.  The studies used two different approaches to examine the various beneficial effects on joint health of taking a glucosamine sulfate supplement versus a placebo.  The studies measured the joint space width, (for example, in the knee, or hip) which typically decreases with age, joint flexibility, and subjects’ perceived joint health.  This data was gathered at the start of the study and on an annual basis thereafter.  In both studies, the final results indicate that overall, glucosamine sulfate better supported healthy joint aging than a placebo, and participants who took glucosamine reported greater positive benefits than did those who took a placebo.

Very similar results were reported in 2002 from a clinical trial conducted in Prague, Czech Republic.  The study was also carried out over three years and included 121 participants who took either glucosamine sulfate or a placebo.  Subjects provided ratings for their perceived joint health, and joint space width measurements were recorded at quarterly intervals for the duration of the study.  Researchers found that participants who took glucosamine rated their perceived joint health higher both throughout, and at the end of the study.  Additionally, the use of glucosamine appeared to benefit the maintenance of healthy joints in study subjects significantly better than a placebo[4].

Glucosamine sulfate also performed better than a placebo, and on some measurements, better than an alternative, in a series of clinical trials conducted in Spain and Portugal; the results of which were published in a 2007[5] report.  More than three hundred participants were divided into three groups: those taking 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate, those taking an alternative, and those taking a placebo.  The trials lasted six months and participants were asked to rate their perceived joint health and flexibility before, during, and after the trial.  The authors concluded that based on these ratings, a daily dose of glucosamine was significantly beneficial for maintaining participants’ joint health and flexibility when compared to an alternative product or a placebo.   

Quite a number of studies investigating the efficacy of glucosamine and its benefits for joint health have been conducted in the last thirty years and the results of those studies ranked as having a high validity and high reliability were compiled in a 2003 report.  The results of the wide-range review of research studies, which explored the beneficial effects of glucosamine versus a placebo included 15 eligible randomized trials comprising more than 1700 total subjects in studies from 1980 through to 2002.  Their findings reveal that throughout the 15 studies, participants taking glucosamine demonstrated significant benefits to joint health compared to those taking a placebo.  Furthermore, the authors suggest that while many more studies did not meet their strict inclusion requirements, the majority of the excluded studies also showed results tending to support the beneficial effects of glucosamine in supporting normal joint health[6]

Our joints keep us mobile and active and with the right care and attention, will allow us to enjoy our favorite activities for the rest of our lives!  The best care we can give our joints is to maintain a healthy weight and to exercise regularly.  The muscles that move our bones and support the associated joints protect the joint against the risk of strain or injury and helps the joint to better handle any stress it might come under[7].

Maintaining a healthy diet rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals ensures your joints get access to the resources they need to stay in great shape.  Taking a supplement that includes glucosamine sulfate is a great step toward supporting your joints and joint tissue.

[1] “Glucosamine sulfate,” Medline Plus, last modified March 14, 2012,

[2] J. Y. Reginster, et al., “Long-term effects of glucosamine sulfate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial,” Lancet 357, No. 9252 (2001): 251-256.

[3] O. Bruyere, et al., “Correlation between radiographic severity of knee osteoarthritis and future disease progression.  Results from a 3-year prospective, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effect of glucosamine sulfate,” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 11 (2003): 1-5.

[4] K. Pavelká, et al., “Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study,” Archives of Internal Medicine 162 (2002): 2113-2123.

[5] G. Herrero-Beaumont, et al., “Glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study using acetaminophen as a side comparator,” Arthritis & Rheumatism 56, No. 2 (2007): 555-567.

[6]  F. Richy, et al., “Structural and symptomatic efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in knee osteoarthritis,” Archives of Internal Medicine 163 (2003): 1514-1522.

[7] Lesley Alderman, “Caring for Hips and Knees to Avoid Artificial Joints,”, April 23, 2010,


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.