Glucosamine Chondroitin Dosage Amounts

Determining how much is right for you

Glucosamine tablets
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Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that is often combined with another supplement, chondroitin, to treat osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is made from the shells of shellfish and chondroitin is derived from cow trachea. Evidence in scientific literature (New England Journal of Medicine 2006) has suggested that glucosamine alone or combined with chondroitin can help relieve osteoarthritis pain in a subgroup of patients with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis.

Supplements which are promoted for better joint health or those that are recommended for treating arthritis can be confusing. You may have seen an advertisement for glucosamine, or read something about the supplement on the Internet. You may know someone who tried it. You probably know just enough about glucosamine to have questions. Should you take it? If you decide to try glucosamine, what is considered a safe and effective dose? 

If you take too little, you won't achieve a beneficial effect and you are essentially wasting your money. If you take too much, you may be increasing the risk of side effects. Results from a study that came out of Tufts-New England Medical Center stated that typical doses sold over-the-counter are probably not strong enough to help relieve arthritic joints. Whether or not glucosamine or chondroitin slows down the damage to cartilage is even less clear.

The Typical Initial Dose

According to rheumatologist Scott J. Zashin M.D., "The typical initial dose is 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 of chondroitin daily for 1 to 2 months. If a response is obtained, the dose can be reduced to 1000 mg of glucosamine and 800 of chondroitin or less. Because these supplements are not regulated by the U.S. FDA and the amount of active ingredient cannot be verified, I typically recommend my patients use one of the brand name products, such as Cosamin DS (glucosamine plus chondroitin) or DONA (glucosamine) for at least 2 months before switching to a less expensive product. As pointed out in the Tufts study, whether higher doses might be more effective without increased toxicity is unclear." (NOTE: Glucosamine should be avoided in patients who are allergic to shellfish and some reports suggest elevation of blood sugar in diabetics. Patients on the blood thinner coumadin may have an increased risk of bleeding.)

According to Andrew Weil, M.D., "Most studies have shown that glucosamine needs to be taken for 2 to 4 months before its full benefits are realized, although many experience some improvement sooner." While there is no Daily Value recommendation for glucosamine, Dr. Weil suggests 1,500 mg of glucosamine (in the form of glucosamine sulfate) daily for those with osteoarthritis.

The Bottom Line

Despite this advice from two well-respected doctors, always consult your own doctor. Your doctor knows your medical history and knows your current medication regimen. Make your doctor aware that you wish to add a supplement to your treatment regimen. Then, follow your doctor's advice.

It should be noted that in recommendations put forth in 2013 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine hydrochloride are not recommended for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. It was said to be a strong recommendation against its use.

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