Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined together in a dietary supplement. You can also buy them in individual supplements in the form of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Both supplements are used to promote joint health and as a remedy for the pain and cartilage loss associated with osteoarthritis. The normal dosage of glucosamine/chondroitin is intended to provide therapeutic benefits to your joints. Always consult your physician before beginning a supplementation program.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and contributes to joint health by helping build the cartilage between your joints. There are no major food sources of glucosamine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can only get it by synthesizing it in your body or by taking supplements made from the outer shells of lobster, shrimp or crab. Synthetic glucosamine is also available for individuals with shellfish allergies. Children should not take glucosamine, but the therapeutic dose for adults is 500 mg three times a day for up to 90 days. Consult your physician if you intend to use the supplements longer.
Chondroitin also occurs naturally in the body and contributes to joint health by absorbing fluids and nutrients into the cartilage. Chondroitin and also provides the raw material to help the body build new cartilage. As with glucosamine, there are no known dietary sources of chondroitin. The only way to get chondroitin is by synthesizing it in your body or through supplementation. Children should not take chondroitin and the therapeutic dose for adults is 1,200 mg per day in three 400-mg doses or two 600-mg doses.
If you choose to take a combined glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, look for a supplement has the same ratio of glucosamine to chondroitin as you would get if you were taking the supplements individually. For example, a supplement with 500 mg of glucosamine and 400 mg would allow you to get 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin in three daily doses. Consult your physician before taking a combined supplement for more than 90 days.
Side-effects and Interactions
Glucosamine and chondroitin may cause gastrointestinal upset if taken on an empty stomach. People wish shellfish allergies should avoid glucosamine and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid both supplements. Glucosamine may reduce the effectiveness of insulin and blood sugar lowering medications. Chondroitin may increase the blood-thinning effects of drugs, such as heparin, and supplements such as vitamin E.