Glucosamine and calcium have long been used for the health and development of the skeletal system. They have never been studied as a combined treatment against disease, despite their common bond in the structural integrity of our bones. On their own, calcium and glucosamine stand tall in their respective treatments of bone and joint health.
Function of Glucosamine
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body and is a precursor to glycosaminoglycans, which are abundant in the cartilage found in our joints. Cartilage is tough connective tissue that helps cushion our joints. For years, glucosamine has been used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, a disease in which the cartilage deteriorates until it’s gone. Glucosamine is commonly taken with chondroitin as a complement to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to rebuild cartilage and lessen pain.
Functions of Calcium
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the human body. Most people know that calcium is stored in bones and teeth to provide structural support; however, calcium is also important for muscle contractions, secretion of hormones, the conduction of neural impulses through the nervous system and blood vessel dilation and contraction. Excellent sources of calcium are found in milk, yogurt and cheese as well as Chinese cabbage, broccoli and kale. Many other foods are fortified with calcium.
Types of Glucosamine
Glucosamine comes in hydrochloride and sulfate forms; however, according to MedlinePlus.com, glucosamine sulfate is the type most commonly used and studied. Therapeutic doses are at 500 milligrams of glucosamine three times daily. The recommended timeline for taking glucosamine is a minimum of 30 days and as long as lifetime supplementation. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement to ensure it is safe for you.
Types of Calcium
There are two primary forms of calcium; carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is the most prevalent, is less expensive and is more readily absorbed when taken with food. Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food and is more easily absorbed in people with reduced stomach acids. The recommended daily allowance for calcium depends on sex and age and should be clarified with a dietitian before beginning supplementation. Calcium is more readily absorbed in doses of less than 500 milligrams. If you need 1,000 milligrams, the dosage should be divided in two and taken at different times of the day.
As of 2010, the debate is ongoing as to whether glucosamine helps with rebuilding cartilage or reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis. An article in the medical journal “The Lancet” reports that in a study of osteoarthritis patients, there is no further joint space deterioration after supplementing with glucosamine sulphate for three years. However, the National Institutes of Health conducted the largest clinical study held relating to glucosamine, called the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial, or GAIT, in 2006. Their results show that there is no significant relief of pain among all patients studied; however, patients with moderate to severe pain experienced a noticeable improvement when they took the glucosamine/chondroitin combination.
- MedlinePlus.com: Glucosamine Sulfate
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Glucosamine
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and the Two in Combination for Painful Knee Osteoarthritis
- National Institutes of Health: Calcium
- National Institutes of Health: Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial