In the past several years, glucosamine sulfate has gained in popularity as a supplement. But although many people are familiar with it, this does not necessarily mean we are all able to define what it is and how it can help us.
Glucosamine sulfate is an amino sugar that is made up of glucose and glutamine, an amino acid. When we think of sugar, we probably think of the sweet white stuff we bake with and stir into our iced tea, but amino sugars are quite different. Rather than being utilized as an energy source like traditional sugar, glucosamine sulfate is used in the structure of different tissues in our bodies, especially the cartilage found in our joints. In the joints, glucosamine sulfate’s chief job is to help make glycosaminoglycans, a critical part of our cartilage’s structure.
Technically, our bodies can make their own glucosamine, but as we age we become less able to do so. And unlike other natural supplements, there are really no food sources of glucosamine. So as we get older, we end up with smaller and smaller amounts of naturally-occurring glucosamine in our systems, which in turn helps increase our chances of developing osteoarthritis or other joint-related health conditions.
Speaking of osteoarthritis, did you know that somewhere around 21 million Americans suffer from this often painful health issue? If you routinely wake up with a stiff and sore back and/or aching knees, hips, or hands, you may very well have osteoarthritis. Traditionally, people with arthritis have relied on over-the-counter pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or if the pain is quite severe, possibly a prescription drug.
Although these drugs can be very effective in reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis, they don’t do anything to actually improve the situation. In other words, you can take all the Advil your doctor advises you for your arthritis, but your cartilage will still be in bad shape.
This is where glucosamine sulfate comes in. It has been widely studied for its ability to actually rebuild cartilage.