Most people, particularly anyone over 50 or those engaged in sports, are likely to experience joint pain, either occasionally or constantly. This can be a sign of wear and tear which may ultimately result in osteoarthritis if left untreated. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the whole joint, however, one of the most affected tissues is cartilage. Cartilage is made up of glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, collagen and elastin. It provides a protective padding to joints that is not as rigid as bone but is less flexible than muscle. The cartilage covering bones may thin and eventually wear away completely, resulting in bone rubbing against bone within the joint, leading to pain, inflammation and reduced motion.
The most common treatment for joint pain and osteoarthritis is with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. However, long term use does not solve the problem and carries side effects.
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that the administration of certain nutrients leads to an effective reduction in joint pain and osteoarthritic symptoms, with less likelihood of adverse side effects.
Glucosamine and Joint Health
Glucosamine is synthesised in almost every human tissue and is most abundant in connective tissue and cartilage. As we get older wear and tear means that more raw material is needed for the joints and surrounding structures. Additionally the production of glucosamine may decrease with age.
Glucosamine has favourable effects on cartilage through various mechanisms:
- Glucosamine has a stimulating effect on cartilage synthesis (1).
- Glucosamine has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which inhibit cartilage degeneration (1,2).
- Glucosamine has been shown to relieve pain and disability in those with knee osteoarthritis (3,4).
- Bone turnover, structure, and mineralisation are significantly altered in osteoarthritis. Treatment with glucosamine may mitigate these changes (5).
These mechanisms help to delay the progression of cartilage degeneration and may help to regenerate the joint structure, leading to reduced pain and swelling and increased mobility. Lack of glucosamine will limit the body’s ability to make cartilage. Supplementation with glucosamine may overcome this bottleneck (1).
To sum up long term treatment with glucosamine:
- reduces pain
- improves function and mobility of the joint
- reduces the progression of osteoarthritis
- reduces the risk of joint replacement becoming necessary (1).
In most trials, dosages of 1500 mg/day were used; this dose was as safe as placebo and was tolerated better than NSAIDs (1).
Nutrients rarely work alone and vitamin C often enhances the beneficial effects of other nutrients. There are many reasons to supplement with vitamin C alongside glucosamine, for example:
- Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may reduce loss of proteoglycans.
- Intake of vitamin C is associated with a decreased risk of cartilage loss and osteoarthritis, probably through the reduction of oxidative stress and its role in the formation of collagen.
- Vitamin C may reduce the use of painkillers and improve quality of life.
Vitamin C is safe and effective to use in combination with other nutrients for acute and chronic pain relief and in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis (6).
Other supplements that may be helpful for joint pain include Tom Oliver’s vitamin D with K2, magnesium, zinc, curcumin complete and omega 3.
Tom Oliver’s Glucosamine with Vitamin C
Many standard glucosamine supplements are sourced from the shells of crustaceans, and therefore are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, or those with shellfish allergy. Tom Oliver Nutrition’s Glucosamine HCl is derived from a sustainable corn-based source making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans, as well as anyone avoiding shellfish.
Tom Oliver Nutrition’s Glucosamine Hydrocloride is blended with vitamin C which enhances the beneficial effects.
- Int J Rheumatol. 2011; 2011: 969012. Effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate on Cartilage Metabolism in OA: Outlook on Other Nutrient Partners Especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Jorg Jerosch.
- Spine J. Sep-Oct 2007;7(5):601-8. Glucosamine HCl alters production of inflammatory mediators by rat intervertebral disc cells in vitro. Walsh AJL et al.
- J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Jan;3(1):48-54. A randomized comparative study of safety and efficacy of immediate release glucosamine HCL and glucosamine HCL sustained release formulation in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: A proof of concept study. Kulkarni C et al.
- Clin Interv Aging. 2007;2(4):599-604. Glucosamine hydrochloride for the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms. Fox BA, Stephens MM.
- Arthritis Rheum. 2007 May;56(5):1537-48. The effects of glucosamine hydrochloride on subchondral bone changes in an animal model of osteoarthritis. Wang SX et al.
- Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec; 22(23): 12920. Nutraceutical Approach to Chronic Osteoarthritis: From Molecular Research to Clinical Evidence. Colletti A, Cicero AFG.