10 Best Glucosamine Supplements Tested
Our bodies produce a natural shock absorber and lubricant that helps us live active lives without experiencing constant pain from friction. This natural shock absorber is glucosamine. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is naturally found in our cartilage. Our bodies need glucosamine to synthesize protein and lipids to form important tissues, like cartilage, with the help of compounds like aggrecan and proteoglycans.
It is an important component of our joints, tendons, and ligaments, and helps to form the fluids that provide lubrication to our joints. And as if glucosamine didn’t do enough for us already, it also contributes to our microbiome health by forming connective tissues that make up the digestive tract and help our immune system function at its highest level.
10 Best Glucosamine Supplements
1. Schiff Move Free Advanced
Move Free Advanced is specially formulated to support the five signs of joint health: mobility, comfort, strength, flexibility, and lubrication. Users report that within one month of consistently taking the recommended dose of Move Free Advanced, they felt a significant reduction in joint pain, especially in their hips.
Move Free Advanced glucosamine supplement contains: 1500 mg of glucosamine which supports the formation of cartilage and everyday mobility and flexibility, 200 mg of chondroitin to support joint strength, cushioning, and lubrication; 200 mg of a mineral compound called Uniflex that Move Free says will lessen pain within 2 weeks, 3.3 mg of hyaluronic acid, which helps support joint lubrication, and 1500 mg of MSM which is a source of sulfur related to collagen production.
Move Free Advanced is about the average price for a glucosamine supplement.
- Quick relief from pain
- Includes compounds that occur naturally in the body
- Must take 3 pills per day
2. Doctor’s Best Glucosamine
Users of Doctor’s Best Glucosamine say that this supplement starts to take affect after two weeks of consistent use. They also say that you must take the whole two-pill dose, or else you will begin feeling pain again almost immediately.
A two-capsule dose of Doctor’s Best Glucosamine contains 750 mg of glucosamine sulfate, 600 mg of chondroitin sulfate, and 500 mg of MSM. This combination of ingredients has been shown to increase cartilage production and lubrication around joints, and decrease joint pain. Doctor’s Best Glucosamine is the only glucosamine supplement to contain OptiMSM, a specially-formulated blend of MSM created by Bergstrom Nutrition, which has been scientifically proven to improve joint, skin, and immune health.
Doctor’s Best Glucosamine is a lower-priced glucosamine supplement.
- GMO- and gluten-free
- Pain returns immediately upon not taking supplement
3. Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine
Two tablets of this glucosamine supplement will help your body produce extra collagen, which is an important component of your joints and connective tissue. Users reported that after a few weeks of use, joint pain, especially in the knees, was reduced. However, some users also reported having to discontinue use of this product due to increases in ocular pressure, which can lead to eye problems like glaucoma and vision loss.
Due to its wholesale size, this is one of the least expensive glucosamine supplements on the market.
- Low price
- Reported reduction in knee pain
- May cause increases in ocular pressure
4. VitaBreeze Triple Strength
VitaBreeze guarantees that four of their gelatin-free Veggie Capsules will provide you with joint pain relief in 60 days, or they will refund your purchase. Users report greatly increased mobility, decreased pain, and that taking this supplement has nearly eliminated the use of OTC pain relievers from their joint pain management routine.
Each dose of VitaBreeze Triple Strength is 4 capsules, and it is recommended that you take two, 2-pill doses daily. Each dose of this glucosamine supplement contains 1500 mg glucosamine, 1000 mg chondroitin, 600 mg MSM, and 300 mg turmeric.
This is a higher priced glucosamine supplement.
- Contains natural antioxidant/anti inflammatory turmeric
5. Zenwise Labs Joint Support Pro-Mobility Formula
After 28 days of taking this glucosamine supplement, one user with severe joint problems reporting comfort sleeping at night, and that there was no longer cracking or popping in the knees or shoulders.
Two tablets of Zenwise Labs Joint Support Pro-Mobility Formula will give you 1500 mg of glucosamine, 1200 mg of chondroitin, and 1000 mg of MSM. This combination of medicines promotes joint and muscle flexibility as well as joint health.
This glucosamine supplement is a little pricier than most others.
- Takes effect in less than one month
- Supplemental ingredients are natural
- Higher price than most other supplements
6. Wellesse Joint Movement Glucosamine
Users report that Wellesse Joint Movement Glucosamine doesn’t taste terrible, but it is overly sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
One ounce per day, or tablespoons, of this glucosamine supplement will provide you with 2000 mg of glucosamine, 1200 mg of chondroitin, 500 mg of MSM, and 10 mg of hyaluronic acid. This liquid formula is made with no artificial ingredients or flavors.
This glucosamine supplement is priced a little above average.
- High concentration of glucosamine
- Artificially sweetened taste
7. Universal Nutrition Animal Flex
Users report some relief of joint pain and discomfort, but they also report side effects such as headaches, sinus pressure, and a racing heart.
One serving of Animal Flex is one packet, and it must be taken with a meal. Animal Flex glucosamine supplement has three “Complexes”: Joint Construction, Joint Lubrication, and Joint Support. The Joint Construction Complex contains glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin. The Joint Lubrication Complex contains flaxseed oil, a cetyl myristoleate proprietary blend, and hyaluronic acid. The Joint Support Complex contains ginger, turmeric, boswellic acid, quercetin, and bromelain.
Animal Flex is a slightly higher priced glucosamine supplement.
- Offers joint construction, support and lubrication
- Potential side effects
8. Schiff Glucosamine
Users report quick results with joint pain in hips and knees, and Schiff Glucosamine Plus MSM has even provided relief for pets.
Three tablets once daily of this glucosamine supplement contain 1500 mg of glucosamine, 1500 mg of MSM, and 3 mg of hyaluronic acid. Together, these ingredients help relieve joint discomfort, promote lubrication, and increase cushioning. There is no chondroitin in this formula.
This glucosamine supplement is priced slightly lower than others.
- Quick relief
- Does not contain chondroitin
9. NOW Foods Glucosamine
Users report that this product did help their joint pain, but the dosage had to be adjusted because it contains lesser concentrations of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM than some other glucosamine supplement formulas. It was recommended to users to calculate a new dosage based on their body weight.
A three-capsule dose of NOW Foods Glucoosamine contains 1100 mg of glucosamine, 1200 mg of chondroitin, and 300 mg of MSM.
This glucosamine supplement is just slightly higher in price than the average bottle of glucosamine.
- Simple, once-a-day formula
- Smaller concentrations of main ingredients
10. Osteo Bi-Flex Triple Strength
This combination will not only increase joint mobility and comfort. It will also strengthen your joints with regular use. Users report a significant decrease in joint pain, but many reported needing to use a pain reliever in conjunction with this product or switching products altogether.
In addition to 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1100 mg of a chondroitin/MSM complex, this glucosamine supplement contains 100 mg of Joint Shield, which is a Boswellia serrata extract.
Osteo Bi-Flex Triple Strength glucosamine supplement is sold at the average price of other glucosamine supplements.
- Relieves pain and strengthens joints
- Does not contain separate amounts of chondroitin and MSM
So what happens when your body isn’t producing a sufficient amount of glucosamine? You hurt. A lot. And you will hurt specifically in your joints. Many medical professionals recommend taking a glucosamine supplement to help increase the amount of glucosamine in our bodies, which will help us reap all of the benefits that glucosamine brings, and allow us to move pain-free.
Glucosamine has been shown to lower inflammation, reduce joint pain and tenderness, and rebuild tissue and cartilage, among other benefits. It takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks for the glucosamine to truly begin having an effect on your pain and join health. There are many different brands of glucosamine on the market, and they come in many combinations. Below is a list of the ten best glucosamine supplements to help you choose which one will help you have a pain-free run.
Criteria Used to Pick Which Glucosamine Supplements Are Among The Best
There are a lot of supplements available on today’s market. General grocery stores are carrying a wide variety of supplements, and the list of choices gets even longer when you go to a specialty foods store, specialty vitamin and supplements store, and even athletic department stores. We know it can be a bit overwhelming, but hopefully this list will help narrow down your search, as well as explain what to look for in a glucosamine supplement to best fit your specific needs. Below is a list of the criteria we considered when measuring which glucosamine supplements were among some of the best.
Effectiveness of the Glucosamine Supplement
So what does glucosamine do and why should you be taking it? Well, to start, glucosamine is found naturally in our bodies, specifically in the cartilage of our joints. It is like WD-40 for our joints, as it lubricates our joints, helps absorb shock within our muscles, bones, and joints, and keeps us moving with minimal pain. There is also research to support the argument that glucosamine might have anti inflammatory benefits as well. As we age, glucosamine becomes an even more critical component to our health, as it treats the symptoms of many age-related bone and joint illnesses like arthritis and osteoporosis. But even in our youth, taking a glucosamine supplement may help keep us moving pain-free, especially those of us who are athletes, runners, and/or gym rats. Day after day of intense workouts can put a lot of stress on our joints and bones, and so it’s a good idea to include glucosamine into your supplement routine. However, not all glucosamine supplements are created equal. Some tend to relieve pain and lubricate joints, muscles, bones, and tendons more than others. Some tend to work faster but not longer, some last longer but take a while to kick in, and some do both. For the most part, the glucosamine supplements contained in this list will offer relief relatively quickly, that sticks around for a while. One of the downsides of most supplement intake is that it might take weeks to months of regularly taking the supplement to experience results. Some doctors argue that the average time for glucosamine to take effect is three to four months, but consumers have experienced results as quickly as one to two weeks of regularly taking some of the ones included in our list. Another factor to consider is how long the relief lasts before you have to take another pill or dose of the supplement. Unfortunately, there are brands of glucosamine on the market that lose effectiveness almost immediately upon missing a dosage. Others offer great bone and joint pain relief as long as you consistently take up to three doses per day (which just might not be feasible with a chaotic schedule and a tight budget). A highly effective glucosamine supplement won’t require multiple doses each day, will start to take effect at two weeks or less, and will offer relief even if a dose is missed.
It is also important to know that there are three main types of glucosamine that exist in a hierarchy of effectiveness. The most common form of glucosamine supplement on the market is glucosamine sulfate, which is also the most effective. The other two are glucosamine hydrochloride and N-Acetyle glucosamine. Glucosamine sulfate has been dubbed the most effective of the three because the sulfate component is the key in cartilage production.
Value of the Glucosamine Supplement
Value does not just mean price. When taking into account an item’s total value, you should compare the cost to several factors, including how much of the product you are getting for the price, how often you will have to take the product and thus how fast you will use it up, and obviously the quality and effectiveness of the product. The products on our list range from just six cents per pill/serving to eleven times that at 66 cents per serving (though most range from six cents to fourteen cents, with the 66 cent per serving existing as a bit of a price outlier in our list). Therefore, the average bottle or container of glucosamine supplements will cost you a total of between fifteen and thirty dollars. But that does not necessarily mean you can, with confidence, budget for buying one bottle per month because each product has different guidelines and recommended daily amounts. Some require just one serving a day, and other require taking the supplement up to three times a day to see results. This is where value comes into play: while the Schiff Move Free Advanced Plus Glucosamine Supplements might be extremely effective at reducing your pain, you should think about if it’s feasible to take three servings each day with your individual schedule and lifestyle. Because so many pills are required, you will go through the bottle quicker and thus end up having to buy more, more often (thus decreasing total value not only because more money will be spent, but because it is far less convenient to have to go to the store for supplements multiple times a month than it is to have them last for several months in a row – especially if you have to travel to a specialty health foods store to get your glucosamine). From the options on our list, you will be getting bottles with 100 to 250 tablets per bottle and which for the most part, align with price (aka, the products on the lower end of the price spectrum naturally have less pills per bottle than the ones with more). When choosing which glucosamine supplement is right for you, consider your own budget and what you want to spend on a supplement as well as how often you want to be buying it.It’s also important to know that the FDA does NOT regulate supplements and herbs like it does other medications or foods. Instead, the FDA can only investigate claims about adverse effects experienced from supplements but they do not have the authority to regulate supplements for safety, purity, strength, and effectiveness like they do for other products, so it’s important to pay attention to quality and stick with brands that you know and trust. In this way in the case of choosing supplements, brand names or trusted brands play a large role in increasing value. And if some brands have awards associated with their glucosamine products, such as Animal Flex from this list, then that adds to the level which you can trust them, and thus, their value.
Combination of Other Ingredients Included in the Glucosamine Supplement
Glucosamine supplements typically do not contain strictly glucosamine sulfate and/or glucosamine hydrochloride. In fact, glucosamine is most commonly sold as a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. Chondroitin, like glucosamine, is usually taken by athletes and people who have joint or bone pain from arthritis or osteoporosis. It lubricates joints, helps the body produce more cartilage to protect bones and joints, and aids in recovery and tissue repair. (In fact, chondroitin is actually a component of the cartilage that the human body naturally produces.) When taken in combination, glucosamine and chondroitin can work compatibly together to decrease joint pain even more – especially when both ingredients are contained in equal or almost-equal amounts per serving. There are a number of other ingredients that you might find in your glucosamine supplement. Most serve to help in recovery and decrease pain, but a lengthy list of too many foreign ingredients might make minimalists and just most consumers in general a bit wary. Other common (and typically safe) ingredients include MSM, (methylsulfonylmethan, used commonly to decrease inflammation associated with arthritis) and (perhaps surprisingly enough) shark cartilage, which helps bolster the body’s natural cartilage production. Supplements sold in forms other than tablets, like drinkable liquid forms, might contain additional ingredients to help with flavor or palatability, which some people find to actually be unpleasant taste fake. Always read labels and be aware of what is contained in your glucosamine supplements, as well as how much of the other ingredients are included per serving and/or tablet.
Some Other Things to Consider
1. Do you have arthritis
Having arthritis certainly isn’t a walk in the park. It often means stiffness and tenderness throughout your joints and bones, inflammation and swelling, and general all-over fatigue. In some cases, the pain becomes bad enough that surgery to replace joints and sockets is necessary. However, most of the people who suffer from arthritis may experience pain relief from natural remedies and daily supplement routines containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Most arthritis sufferers who take glucosamine report a modest eight to ten percent relief from pain and arthritic symptoms, which typically takes effect around three months after starting the supplement regimen. Though the benefits of glucosamine are modest and may take longer than surgery, it’s a far less expensive solution to moderate arthritis plain.
2. Do you have runner’s knee?
Or better yet, do you have any aches and pains that tend to flare up when running or exercising and are especially located around joints or bones? You might have even gotten them looked at by a doctor who told you no bones were broken, ligaments or tendons torn, and nothing is seriously wrong – they are just the minor aches and pains associated with increasing mileage and working out more. They are not associated with a disease like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis because they are exacerbated by exercise, but not exactly chronic. Many runners who have experienced these more minor pains have also vouched that incorporating a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement into their daily routine has helped with the discomfort. It’s a relatively low-cost solution that can get you back out on the roads, trails, and in the gym quickly and painlessly.
3. Are you allergic to shellfish?
This might seem like a strange question, but if you are allergic to shellfish then you should know that many glucosamine supplements are made from the shells of shellfish such as crab and shrimp, and should thus consult with your doctor about starting a glucosamine regimen (actually, EVERYONE should first ask their doctor before starting any sort of supplement regimen!). The cartilage that make up the shells of shellfish are rich in glucosamine, and so are a great source from which to extract glucosamine. Even though the human shellfish allergy is really an allergy to the proteins found within the flesh of shellfish, these proteins may also be found in trace amounts in the shells of shellfish. Therefore, those with severe allergies to shellfish are possibly at rick of having an allergic reaction to glucosamine supplements.
4. Do you prefer taking your supplements in the form of a pill or in a drinkable liquid?
The majority of glucosamine supplements sold on the market are sold in a swallowable capsule or pill form. However, some might not like swallowing huge pills, especially if the recommended dosage is high and calls for taking the pills multiple times a day. Others complain about bad aftertastes of some supplements. Fortunately, glucosamine is also sold in a drinkable liquid form. Both forms are included on this list, and there has been some research that compares the two forms. Some studies show that the drinkable form may actually take effect more quickly than the pill form because it is more readily absorbed and digested. While users of glucosamine pills typically experience results in one to three months, many report seeing results in as little as two weeks with the liquid form. The downside to the drinkable form though is that it is typically more expensive, and many manufacturers try to improve upon taste using artificial sweeteners which might not be enjoyable or palatable to all individuals.
5. Are you taking any other types of drugs or medicines?
Before you incorporate glucosamine into your supplement routine, you should consider what other drugs or medicines you are already taking, and how changing your routine may affect these drugs. While not likely, some studies show that glucosamine may interfere with certain drugs, including some blood thinners like anticoagulants (and as a result, increase the risk of bleeding) and other pain relievers and fever reducers (such as acetaminophen, resulting in an increased effectiveness to reduce fever). Glucosamine may also interfere with medications that affect blood sugar levels, so individuals with diabetes who take drugs to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels need to be cautious about taking glucosamine. Some evidence suggests glucosamine may cause cancer cells to become more resistant to certain types of chemotherapy treatments. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions or interferences that glucosamine might have on your medications.
Q. What are the potential side effects associated with glucosamine use?
While glucosamine supplements are likely safe for the majority of people who take them, (after first consulting with a doctor) they still may experience a few adverse side effects. Some of the most common side effects include stomach ache and stomach and digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating, hair loss, and puffy eyes. Immediately stop use if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction (i.e. difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, face, lips or tongue, and/or hives) or irregular heartbeat or swollen legs.
Q. What is the standard recommended dosage?
Most glucosamine supplements will come in pill and/or servings of either 1500 milligrams (taken once a day for up to a recommended six months) or 500 milligrams (taken three times a day for up to a recommended 90 days). Although there are recommendations for how long to take glucosamine supplements, (i.e. six months, 90 days) research shows that it is probably safe to take glucosamine regularly for up to three years.
Q. Where does the glucosamine in my supplement come from?
Glucosamine is a chemical that is made naturally in the human body. It mostly pools as fluid around the joints, which helps explain why it is taken to help in joint pain, as it serves to increase the lubricative fluid around joints and bones. For supplements, glucosamine is also often extracted from the shells of shellfish like oysters, crabs, and shrimp. However, not all glucosamine supplements are from natural sources – some are synthetically created in laboratories.
Q. What is the difference between Glucosamine Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride and N-Acetyle Glucosamine?
If you do a little research about glucosamine, you will quickly find that it can be bought in three different forms: as glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and n-acetyle glucosamine. Most research on glucosamine has been conducted on glucosamine sulfate, and it’s likely that this is the form included in your supplement because it is more commonly found on the market. Research suggests that glucosamine sulfate is actually a more effective form because sulfur is what the body actually needs to produce cartilage and aid in joint health and recovery (and may even help pain and joint problems from progressing worse). And luckily for humans, it is impossible to have an allergy to sulfur (not to be confused with sulfa). Aside from not containing sulfur, glucosamine hydrochloride isn’t stabilized by sodium chloride (aka table salt) like glucosamine sulfate, which is a contributing factor in glucosamine sulfate’s effectiveness. N-Acetyle glucosamine tends to have a lot of side effects which is the main reason why it is not the best choice. Not only do those allergic to shellfish have to be cautious around N-Actyle glucosamine containing supplements, but evidence suggests N-Acetyle glucosamine exacerbates asthmatic symptoms (narrowing air passages and making breathing difficult) as well as contributes to increased bleeding and bruising in people who are already prone to excessive bleeding without proper clotting.
Q. What is the difference between glucosamine and chondroitin?
When perusing the aisles at the store, searching for the glucosamine supplement that is right for you, you will likely find many glucosamine supplements that also contain chondroitin. It is important to know what chondroitin is if you choose one that contains both. Chondroitin, like glucosamine, is naturally found in the cartilage of the body’s joints and bones. It also serves a similar function in that it lubricates joints and bones and helps reduce arthritic pain or pain experienced from a lack of lubrication when joints rub together. Additionally, chondroitin has been shown to help absorb cartilage fluid, which aids in keeping enzymes that break down cartilage and prevent the body’s natural cartilage production in the bones from destroying cartilage and joint lubrication.
Q. Can I get glucosamine through the food in my diet?
In short, the answer is no. While we’ve already explained how shellfish shells are an abundant source of glucosamine, shells are not typically consumed in a typical Western diet. If you are really determined to get your glucosamine intake from food though, you can take the shells of crustaceans and ground them down to a powder to throw into soups, stews, sauces, and baked dishes. (Unfortunately though, the flesh of shellfish contain little to no glucosamine, so you won’t get your gluocosamine intake simply by hitting up your local seafood buffet.) And because glucosamine is made from cartilage and helps produce cartilage, you can get it from cartilage-based foods like ofal (that, again, are rarely consumed in the West). Cartilage found in animal ears, snouts, and joint tissues may contain glucosamine. If all of that makes you squeamish and sounds more difficult than it is worth, we suggest just sticking to supplements for your glucosamine intake.
Q. Should I take glucosamine with food?
Some glucosamine supplements are stronger and more potent than others. Some users will find that this gives them stomach issues. If you have a sensitive stomach and the glucosamine supplements you are taking are a higher dosage, taking them with food can help ease your gastrointestinal issues. Other individauls, no matter the potency or strength of the dose, may experience minor bloating, gas, constipation, and/or stomach pain. Again, taking glucosamine along with your pre-workout meal or breakfast may help calm some of these issues. And as always, be sure to read the directions on your glucosamine bottle or packaging before starting a regimen.
Q. Is Glucosamine safe to give to children?
While the negative side effects of glucosamine in adults are minimal, not enough research has been conducted to confirm or deny claims that glucosamine is safe for the majority of children to take on a regular basis. Because of its health benefits for athletes and older individuals experiencing pain and arthritic symptoms, as well as evidence that is slows down the process of arthritis and joint pain, it has been suggested that it might help young children avoid bone or joint pain (especially young athletes who play multiple sports). Unfortunately, more research is still needed and you should certainly talk to your child’s pediatrician before starting them on any supplement regimen.
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