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Glucosamine & N-acetyl glucosamine

Chondroitin and glucosamine are essential building blocks of connective tissue that forms cartilage, heart valves and mucous membranes, and of synovial fluid, the jelly-like substance that fills the joints.


Glucosamine is a simple molecule that is available in supplement form as glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG). The glucosamine sulphate form (stabilized with a mineral salt such as sodium chloride or potassium chloride) is the most common form of supplementation as it appears to be the most effective when used in connection with osteoarthritis. In a few small studies, glucosamine has shown promise when used in connection with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Chondroitin Sulphate

Chondroitin sulphate is a more complex molecule than glucosamine. Like glucosamine, it is a major constituent of cartilage and has been the subject of many clinical trials. Chondroitin supplementation has also proven to be effective for people with osteoarthritis. It has also been shown to interfere with reverse transcriptase, an enzyme important to the reproduction of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Chondroitin is believed to be a component of the heart structure, so taking it may help repair damage from heart attacks.

When To Use Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulphate or Both

Some studies indicate that using chondroitin sulphate in connection with osteoarthritis is more effective than glucosamine. However, many chondroitin sulphate supplements have been reported to contain less than 40% of the amount of chondroitin listed on the label. Additionally, studies to date are inconclusive when it comes to establishing whether or not chondroitin sulphate is more effective than glucosamine.

Many people with osteoarthritis take combinations of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine. This practice may be due to the belief that the two supplements work better when taken together.

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