Glucosamine is an amino sugar which is naturally found in the body, in the fluid surrounding joints. It is a major building block for cartilage, and as we age, glucosamine levels fall, which contributes to a lack of joint mobility in older people.
As well as building cartilage, glucosamine also helps in the repair of damaged cartilage. For these reasons, it is a very popular supplement both for older people, and for athletes and those who enjoy exercise.
Studies have shown that glucosamine can be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis, particularly where hips or knees are affected. It appears to both increase mobility in the affected joints and reduce pain and inflammation.
A pilot study has also shown promise for glucosamine in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, and another has found that glucosamine may suppress the damaging inflammatory response found in multiple sclerosis.
Glucosamine in supplements is typically either obtained from shellfish or synthetically created. You can take glucosamine in tablet, capsule or liquid format; statistics show that it is the second most taken dietary supplement in the US, after omega-3 oils.