By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, January 30, 2010, abstracted from “A comprehensive review of oral glucosamine use and effects on glucose metabolism in normal and diabetic individuals” in Diabetes Metabolism Research Review
Glucosamine Sulfate is one of the most popular dietary supplements on the market, used mostly because of its ability to help maintain joint health (1). It has been named as one of the five dietary supplements that could save billions in healthcare costs (2) in amounts of 1500 mg per day (3).
Glucosamine’s widespread use among the elderly has raised concerns about its effect on blood sugar, since glucosamine supplement studies in animals have shown glucosamine to induce insulin resistance (4, 5) and an estimated 9% of elderly men, 7% of elderly women, 400,000 elderly diabetics and 2.7 million pre-diabetic individuals use glucosamine (6). Now a review of the research (7) has found that glucosamine is indeed safe for diabetics.
In the review, the researchers found that oral supplementation of 1500 mg per day of glucosamine maximizes blood levels of glucosamine (3-8 micromoles/Liter) with no further increases seen with 3000 mg per day (8). When looking at glucosamine’s effect on insulin levels, no effect was observed, even with very high levels of glucosamine given intravenously (40 micromoles/L/min) which produced glucosamine blood levels of 810 micromoles/Liter (9).
In patients diagnosed with diabetes, no significant differences were seen in levels of HbA1c (a measure of longer-term blood sugar levels) with 1500 mg per day of glucosamine and 1200 mg per day of chondroitin for 90 days. No deleterious effects were seen on blood sugar control with long-term use of glucosamine (1500 mg/day for 3 years) (10, 11).
These results led the researchers to conclude that “The totality of scientific evidence does not indicate any adverse effects of GlcN,[glucosamine] at therapeutic doses normally consumed, on glucose metabolism in subjects with poor glucose tolerance or in subjects with type 2 diabetes.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
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2. Dietary Supplement Information Bureau press release on September 22, 2004: “FACT SHEET - Improving Public Health, Reducing Health Care Costs: An Evidence-Based Study of Five Dietary Supplements”
3. Pavelka, K., et al., Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Arch Intern Med, 2002. 162(18): p. 2113-23
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10. Pavelk´a K, Gatterova J, Olejarova M, Machacek S, Giacovelli G, Rovati LC. Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3- year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Arch Intern Med 2002; 162: 2113–2123
11. Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Rovati LC, et al. Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lancet 2001; 357: 251–256