Glucosamine is a compound naturally produced by your body to create and maintain cartilage.
As you age, your body naturally produces less glucosamine, which can create cartilage issues and lead to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis. Below, you’ll find the best glucosamine supplements of 2021, ranked and reviewed by our expert health panel.
1. LiveWell MoveWell Glucosamine
MoveWell is a powerful joint support formula that works to lubricate your joints, fight inflammation, and maintain your cartilage. To maintain purity, it’s made in an American GMP-certified facility.
What we like: MoveWell includes powerful, clinically backed ingredients like chondroitin, MSM, glucosamine, AprèsFlex® Boswellia, curcumin, and hyaluronic acid to help protect your joints and cartilage. It contains no additives, common allergens, or unnecessary fillers either.
Flaws: It’s a bit on the pricey side. That being said, MoveWell is still the best joint support formula out there and our #1 pick.
2. Essential Elements Glucosamine Chondroitin
Essential Elements Glucosamine Chondroitin is third party lab-tested to ensure only the best and purest supplements. Each serving packs a punch, helping support joint pain and new cartilage.
What we like: Essential Elements Glucosamine Chondroitin includes powerful ingridients like glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, curcumin, and MSM to reduce joint inflammation and improve the formation of new cartilage.
Flaws: It could include more ingredients at higher dosages.
3. Arazo Nutrition Joint Support Supplement for Relief
There are few glucosamine supplements as effective as these, which feature both glucosamine and chondroitin in 1500 and 1200 mg doses per day, respectively. They even include extra ingredients to provide ancillary benefits and greater comfort than you would expect.
What we like: Arazo’s joint support formula includes a variety of ingredients alongside glucosamine, including MSM, Boswellia, and turmeric to provide long-lasting and long-term joint discomfort relief. All products are made in a certified facility and are third-party tested to ensure purity.
Flaws: The downside is that these capsules have unnecessary food coloring added.
4. Schiff Move Free Joint Health Supplement Tablets
Schiff’s offer smaller than average tablets for easy swallowing. Those capsules can support joint cushioning and flexibility thanks to the inclusion of both glucosamine and chondroitin.
What we like: We’re very impressed with the affordable asking price, along with MSM, which can provide additional cartilage support. Hyaluronic acid makes a return once again to improve joint lubrication, and the MSM can even improve collagen production – this may lead to benefits for your skin across the board.
Flaws: The clinically-tested compound Uniflex, which is included in the formula, is a bit hit or miss. You may not actually see results in as little as two weeks depending on your diet and the actual condition causing your joint discomfort.
5. Vimerson Health Glucosamine Chondroitin Tablets
Check out these glucosamine and chondroitin tablets, of which 90 are offered in this bottle. The formula includes all the stuff you need in a daily multivitamin, so it’s a fantastic supplement if you already take a multivitamin and don’t want to swallow multiple capsules at the beginning of the day.
What we like: You only need to take a single capsule per day with this purchase, which is great if you hate swallowing pills. Even better, it’s a totally natural and non-GMO supplement that can improve your range of motion and provide other health benefits across the board.
Flaws: If you already have a multivitamin that you enjoy, taking this supplement could give your body to many of certain types of minerals and require you to cut back.
6. Doctor’s Best Glucosamine and Chondroitin Tablets
Doctor’s Best glucosamine tablets are pretty affordable since you get a 240-capsule package for a reasonable price. They combine glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM: a perfect combination for improving joint health.
What we like: The MSM contained in these tablets is specially formulated for better joint mobility and general overall health for your hair, nails, and skin. So, they’re excellent supplements if you have issues with these areas in addition to joint or bone pain and discomfort. These capsules are also non-GMO and soy-free if you have any allergies.
Flaws: These capsules are particularly brittle, and you may find that some of them have broken in the bottle by the time you get your purchase.
7. Nature Made Glucosamine Chondroitin Complex Supplements
Nature Made glucosamine and chondroitin pills are bolstered by MSM. There’s a reasonable quantity of 180 capsules inside the bottle, and you’ll need to wait between 4-6 weeks for results.
What we like: The biggest benefit of these capsules is that they are made without any artificial dyes, flavors, or anything else. You only get the glucosamine and related ingredients to improve your holistic health. They are also gluten-free, and the glucosamine is made in the lab: a perfect fit for vegan or vegetarian users.
Flaws: You only get a 60-day supply of glucosamine supplements.
8. Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine Tablets
Kirkland’s glucosamine supplement is particularly good for budget-minded shoppers. You get a whopping 375 tablets with your purchase and you only have to take two tablets per day to get all of their benefits.
What We Like: Alongside glucosamine, Kirkland’s option also comes with MSM, which improves your collagen production and creates stronger connective tissue between your joints. This makes an excellent option for general joint and skin or hair health.
Flaws: The pills are larger than you might like, so they aren’t particularly easy going down.
9. NOW Supplements Glucosamine and Chondroitin Capsules
These supplements come in a 180-count bottle for a decent asking price. The formula includes both glucosamine and chondroitin, plus MSM, which offers ancillary benefits as covered above.
What We Like: This particular glucosamine supplement is noteworthy since its non-GMO. It’s also corn, dairy, egg, nut, and soy-free, and it’s made entirely without gluten. Definitely consider these glucosamine tablets if you have allergies to any of those ingredients. Even better, the capsules are GMP quality assured, so you’re guaranteed a certain level of quality and potency.
Flaws: These aren’t very fast-acting according to most users. The price could also be a little better.
10. Nutricost Glucosamine Sulfate Capsules
Just because Nutricost’s glucosamine supplements are last, doesn’t mean they’re the worst. In fact, they use glucosamine sulfate: widely considered to be the best form of glucosamine supplement for general joint health and pain relief.
What We Like: The best thing about this supplement is its efficacy, particularly for treating joint pain and discomfort in relatively short order compared to other supplements. But it’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, and has been third-party tested to ensure quality and purity across the board. You also get 120 servings for a very reasonably priced bottle.
Flaws: It doesn’t include a lot of extra minerals or other vitamins to offer additional value.
Who Should Buy Glucosamine Supplements?
Glucosamine supplements, due to their wide-ranging but mild benefits, are effective supplements for use by the broader population. As with all supplements regardless of ingredients, those on any type of medication or suffering from any serious condition should consult their doctors before taking any additional supplements to avoid any side effects as a result of medication interference.
This being said, glucosamine supplements can be effective at treating a wide variety of bone and cartilage-related conditions or injuries. Those suffering from osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and similar conditions may be able to find some relief or improvement for their condition by taking glucosamine supplements regularly.
However, glucosamine supplements cannot treat any of these conditions by themselves, nor are they effective enough to provide immediate relief. Glucosamine supplements are best thought of as long-term and ancillary treatments for the above conditions. They can also potentially help with some extra conditions described below.
Glucosamine supplements are great for those already committed to exercise therapy and other, stronger medications as prescribed by their physicians. Consider taking glucosamine supplements if you are already working to combat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, or other joint discomfort and immobility and want to try to accelerate your recovery process.
By using glucosamine supplements, you may be able to shorten the amount of time you recover from an injury or suffer from the more serious symptoms of a condition like arthritis.
How We Ranked
We tried to make sure that our highest ranked glucosamine supplements were an ideal dose and had a great form of glucosamine to ensure fantastic value. To that end, the Arazo Nutrition Joint Support Supplement for Relief was a perfect pick. Not only do they have great glucosamine, but they also include chondroitin and other ingredients like hyaluronic acid and turmeric. All of these will go a long way toward improving your joints’ health and comfort levels across the board, especially if you stick with the capsules over the long-term. This will be easy since the purchase comes with several months’ worth of capsules.
The Schiff Move Free Joint Health Supplement Tablets were also noteworthy thanks to their affordable asking price and easy to swallow nature. These will be particularly nice for folks who don’t like swallowing tons of capsules and who have a strong gag reflex. At the same time, we thought the Vimerson Health Glucosamine Chondroitin Tablets were another strong choice since they double as multivitamins: they’re a perfect pick if you just don’t want to take multiple capsules per day but still want to benefit from glucosamine supplements and their myriad benefits.
If you don’t have a particularly bad gag reflex, the Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine Tablets are another great choice – there are more tablets in the purchase then there are almost anywhere else on the market. So that’s a great bulk buy if you want enough glucosamine tablets to last you over the long-term. While the Nutricost Glucosamine Sulfate Capsules were last, they are certainly not a bad choice, especially since they contain glucosamine sulfate. They’re among the best of the best when it comes to raw joint pain relief, even though they don’t have other ingredients to sweeten the deal.
Glucosamine can improve cartilage strength. At its core, glucosamine is a type of amino acid and building block that your body uses to produce and maintain cartilage: the binding material within and between your joints. Thus, consuming glucosamine supplements can directly benefit the cartilage strength of your body.
However, glucosamine supplements do not themselves contain a ton of the substance. Benefits accrue over time and with continued use and exercise (1).
Glucosamine can reduce inflammation, either directly or for the symptom of another condition that causes inflammation. The mechanisms that cause this reaction are not fully understood, but the effects certainly are.
Glucosamine, at least when applied directly to cells that form bones, creates an immediate anti-inflammatory response from surrounding tissue. However, research proving this and similar benefits often involves supplementing glucosamine with chondroitin. Like glucosamine, chondroitin is also a key building block for healthy cartilage and your body produces a certain amount of it naturally.
A 2014 study involving 200 people found that glucosamine supplements, at least when combined with chondroitin, produced a statistically significant reduction in certain inflammatory markers. This means that glucosamine is apparently more effective at reducing inflammation when combined with chondroitin than when taken alone (2).
Glucosamine supplements can help support healthy joints, which is the compound’s natural purpose in your body. Specifically, glucosamine forms the key chemical compounds that are necessary to create articular cartilage: the type of tissue surrounding the ends of your bones, where they connect to create joints and joint tissue.
Glucosamine both helps your body form new cartilage more effectively and reduces the likelihood of existing cartilage from breaking down. Taking glucosamine supplements can, therefore, reduce cartilage-related joint issues.
A study of 41 cyclists discovered that supplements with up to 3 grams of glucosamine could reduce certain types of collagen and cartilage degradation in the knee joint area (3).
Many glucosamine supplements are used to treat joint and other bone disorders. Specific disorders or symptoms of disorders treated with glucosamine supplements include: Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are multiple studies that show that daily glucosamine sulfate supplements, alongside other long-term treatments, can provide a serious reduction in pain or overall slowing of a disease’s progression (4).
The pain relief found by taking glucosamine sulfate supplements is, however, highly individually dependent. It’s also dependent on other treatments being used in conjunction with glucosamine supplements. The supplements alone do not meaningfully reduce pain, and pain relief medication or exercise can also be of significant help (5).
Glucosamine supplements can be used to improve bone strength. Human trials or studies to this effect have not yet been completed, but some research with mice shows that glucosamine supplements can positively impact new bone tissue formation and reduce bone degradation over time.
This may lead to solutions for osteoporosis and related conditions. Additionally, those suffering from osteoporosis and experiencing joint disease in the meantime can use glucosamine supplements as an ancillary treatment in conjunction with other medications or therapies as prescribed by a doctor (6).
Glucosamine may be effective in treating the inflammation that leads to inflammatory bowel disease. However, there aren’t studies on humans to this effect – the research literature on the subject only deals with mice subjects.
In the study, mice with inflammatory bowel disease experienced reduced inflammation when they were given glucosamine supplements. This is likely an ancillary side effect of glucosamine’s ability to reduce inflammation across the board rather than a targeted side effect directly related to IBD (7).
Glucosamine plays a serious role in overall body and joint health, and it may even produce quasi-antioxidant effects in the retina. There’s some evidence to suggest that glucosamine sulfate supplements can improve eye health by reducing inflammation and the aforementioned antioxidant effects.
This study found that long-term consumption of glucosamine sulfate supplements produced better vision and reduced visual discomfort in a series of test subjects. The reasons for this benefit are not well understood, however, and glucosamine is not a direct treatment for eye diseases (8).
Glucosamine can work as a therapeutic supplement for temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This condition is characterized by low jaw mobility and significant jawbone discomfort and pain. Glucosamine supplements can, according to one admittedly small study, significantly reduce the pain and inflammation experienced by those suffering from TMJ.
It’s thought that the glucosamine can help the jawbones of affected individuals repair itself and associated cartilage more effectively, alongside reducing the inflammation that causes discomfort. However, more human trials are needed to firmly prove that glucosamine supplements play a serious role in TMJ pain reduction (9).
Q: What exactly is glucosamine?
A: Glucosamine is a type of amino sugar that’s formed naturally by your body to create cartilage and other joint-related tissue. It’s a very versatile building block, so it is technically used throughout your body.
Q: Where is glucosamine found?
A: In the natural world, glucosamine can be found in human tissue, animal bones, shellfish shells, fungi, and many more places.
Q: What is the best way to take glucosamine?
A: Glucosamine can be taken either orally through capsules or can be applied topically to any inflamed skin or tissue as part of a cream, gel, or salve. Oral supplementation is best for treating wide-spread irritation or inflammation or for treating certain types of bone/joint disorders. Topical application is best for relieving inflammation near the surface of the skin.
Q: How much glucosamine should you take per day?
A: Most glucosamine supplements offer dosages at around 1500 mg per day. These may be consumed in single doses or in doses consumed multiple times, such as once in the morning and once in the evening. Don’t take more than 1500 mg to avoid any potential side effects.
Q: Where are most glucosamine supplements made?
A: The majority of glucosamine supplements are created through natural sources. Glucosamine can be found in the natural environment from bone-like tissues, such as the shells of various shellfish or the skin of various species of fungi. Additionally, glucosamine can be artificially manufactured in a laboratory environment. Any glucosamine supplements should describe where the glucosamine was created/harvested on the bottle or description.
Q: Is glucosamine ever paired with other compounds?
A: Yes. Glucosamine supplements come in two major types: glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. Glucosamine sulfate is a little more common and is the most effective.
Q: What about glucosamine chondroitin?
A: Many glucosamine sulfate supplements are combined with chondroitin for even better theoretical results. However, glucosamine sulfate is widely thought to be the most effective type of supplement, while chondroitin may be most effective when treating certain types of inflammation. Therefore, you should look for glucosamine chondroitin supplements for those needs and glucosamine sulfate supplements for other conditions/symptoms.
Q: Are there any side effects from taking glucosamine supplements?
A: Yes, but they are very rare and mild. The potential side effects include nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain, and diarrhea – these are all thought to be part of digestive issues if your body doesn’t adequately absorb the glucosamine.
Furthermore, you should avoid taking glucosamine supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding since there isn’t any evidence showing that it’s safe or dangerous. Glucosamine can also make blood sugar control worse if you have diabetes.
Because some glucosamine supplements are created from the shells of shellfish, you should be cautious about taking them if you have a shellfish allergy. Be sure to check whether the glucosamine in a given supplement is from this source before consuming it to avoid an allergic reaction.
Q: How can glucosamine and chondroitin help with inflammatory issues or reduce pain?
A: Neither of these compounds is specifically a painkiller. Instead, since they are both used it to create cartilage tissue throughout the body, it’s thought that they can help repair cartilage damage or give your body the building blocks it needs to create new cartilage. The pain relief or inflammation reduction is a side effect of this main purpose. Therefore, if your pain or inflammation is caused by another condition, glucosamine supplements may not be very effective, even if your discomfort is felt in a joint area.
Q: Why is it more important for older people to take bone or cartilage strengthening supplements like glucosamine as they age?
A: As people get older, their bodies and cells naturally lose their ability to produce certain key building blocks that help them maintain youthful vigor and comfort. Over time, the human body loses its ability to create glucosamine and cartilage as a result. Since the natural level produced by one’s body drops, taking a glucosamine supplement is like giving your body the level of glucosamine it is used to.
Q: Can you find glucosamine in natural foods?
A: No. While some animal products (like shellfish shells) contain glucosamine, you would not naturally eat these compounds, so there’s no way to absorb glucosamine from your diet.
Q: Are there any known interactions of glucosamine supplements and common medications?
A: Yes. Glucosamine can interact with acetaminophen, the main ingredient of Tylenol. Taking both Tylenol or similar medications and glucosamine together could reduce the efficacy of both treatments. Furthermore, glucosamine can interact with warfarin, the main ingredient of Jantoven, and similar medications. This can possibly increase the effects of anticoagulants, which can increase your risk of bleeding. You should not take glucosamine supplements if you are on a blood thinner like Jantoven.
Q: Are glucosamine supplements typically vegan or organic?
A: They might be. Many glucosamine supplements are not vegan since the glucosamine material is harvested from animal tissues, including bones or shellfish shells. However, vegan glucosamine supplements may be created by generating artificial glucosamine in a laboratory environment.
Organic glucosamine can also be harvested by following the same practices as creating or harvesting other organic foods and nutrients around the world.
Q: How does glucosamine affect blood sugar/those with diabetes?
A: Glucosamine is a type of sugar in the raw sense, but it’s not a type of sugar that normally affects blood sugar levels or insulin sensitivity. However, glucosamine can make insulin resistance worse, which can be a dangerous side effect if you have type II diabetes.
Q: Can glucosamine supplements prevent bone or cartilage degradation over the long-term?
A: It’s not known how long the potential benefits from glucosamine supplements will last, especially when taken consistently and over a long period. That’s because the research on these supplements is still in its earliest days and there haven’t been any particularly long trials with large experimental groups yet.
This being said, regularly taking glucosamine supplements before you experience the symptoms of joint or cartilage damage and discomfort can potentially lead to those symptoms being kicked down the road significantly. If you know that you have a genetic predisposition for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, taking a glucosamine supplement could help counteract that predisposition and allow you to enjoy your mobility for longer.
Q: Are glucosamine supplements typically expensive?
A: No. In addition to the supplements described above, most glucosamine supplements can be purchased for between $15 and $30 for packages of hundreds of capsules. Thus, it’s possible to have 1-3 months’ worth of capsules for very affordable prices.
Q: Can children take glucosamine supplements?
A: It’s not recommended for children to take glucosamine supplements since there isn’t any scientific research on whether there are negative consequences for doing so. Furthermore, most children don’t experience the types of conditions that would require a glucosamine supplement in the first place.
Q: How fast do most glucosamine supplements work?
A: Glucosamine supplements can work quickly or over the long-term depending on the exact supplement. Furthermore, how well your body absorbs the glucosamine will determine how quickly you feel the effects and whether those effects are particularly noteworthy. Glucosamine supplements are best thought of as cumulative supplements, so it takes time for the compound to build up in your body. Glucosamine supplements are not good choices if you want short-term or instantaneous relief from joint or bone-related pain.
Q: Can animals take glucosamine supplements?
A: Sometimes. Certain veterinarians may prescribe the glucosamine joint supplement for animals like dogs in order to keep them comfortable as they age. However, you should never give your pet a glucosamine supplement intended for human consumption. Only ever give your pet a glucosamine supplement as prescribed by a veterinarian to avoid side effects.
Q: What other treatments or therapies can you combine with glucosamine supplements to treat joint pain or bone disorders?
A: Alongside other prescribed medications, joint pain and discomfort can often be relieved with the following efforts. Remain physically active over time. Since exercise can strengthen the cartilage in your joints and can improve flexibility, it can combat fatigue and reduce the effects of arthritis. However, do not exercise if your joint pain is from overstressing or overworking a joint in the first place.
Furthermore, physical activity can be important for those suffering from osteoporosis. Obtaining larger muscles will strengthen the bones that support them over time, reducing discomfort.
When exercising, be sure to stretch so you can maintain an excellent range of motion for all your joints. Take topical pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with the short-term or immediate symptoms of conditions like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, maintain a healthy body weight to lessen the stress on your various joints. This will come naturally with exercise.
Combining a glucosamine supplement with vigorous exercise and a good dieting regimen will likely yield excellent results for joint or bone pain and discomfort over the long-term. You should consider working with your doctor to use a glucosamine supplement in conjunction with the above efforts and other medical treatments for the best results.
Q: Is it all right to take a glucosamine supplement as a young adult?
A: Yes, if you already have some bone issues or joint trouble. However, most people who take glucosamine supplements will necessarily be older adults since it’s around middle-age and greater when your body stops producing as much glucosamine as it would in your younger years.
Q: Can glucosamine supplements help you recover from broken bones more quickly?
A: No. Glucosamine supplements don’t directly help your bones create more tissue or recover from injuries. However, glucosamine supplements may help you recover from torn cartilage and other joint-related injuries. They can help your body produce more glucosamine in addition to offering a direct infusion of the compound. There is not enough science on this point to accurately say that it definitely helps you recover more quickly from those types of injuries, however.
Glucosamine is one of the necessary compounds for bone and joint function across your body. While we produce plenty of glucosamine initially, our bodies gradually produce less and less until we run into joint issues like rheumatoid arthritis. Glucosamine supplements can provide the extra edge you need to recover your mobility and alleviate joint discomfort and inflammation.
Furthermore, glucosamine supplements may include extra ingredients to bolster cartilage production and improve bone health. These supplements are not for everyone, but they can be valuable treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and much more.
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