10 Best Glucosamine Supplements Tested
We reviewed a large number of glucosamine supplements to find the products that would work best for athletes and active people. It never hurts to start paying attention to your joint health!
- VitaBreeze Triple Strength
- NOW Foods Glucosamine
- Nature’s Way Glucosamine
- Doctor’s Best Glucosamine
- Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine
- Schiff Glucosamine
- Schiff Move Free Advanced
- Wellesse Joint Movement Glucosamine
- Zenwise Labs Joint Support Pro-Mobility Formula
- Universal Nutrition Animal Flex
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Glucosamine Supplements
1. VitaBreeze Triple Strength
Contains natural antioxidant/anti inflammatory turmeric
VitaBreeze Triple Strength incorporates turmeric into its glucosamine supplement formula for a unique added boost. Turmeric has been shown to be a very powerful antioxidant that has impressive anti-inflammatory properties.Read more
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 but well worth the price.
2. NOW Foods Glucosamine
Simple, once-a-day formula
Easily adjustable dosing
May take larger doses to work
This glucosamine supplement, manufactured by NOW, contains three key ingredients to help combat joint pain and discomfort.Read more
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 Glucosamine 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.
3. Nature’s Way Glucosamine
Specifically formulated for problem areas
This supplement combines Glucosamine with MSM--which is commonly done. It is highly affordable and specifically formulated for your hands, wrists, knees, back, neck, elbows, hips, and ankles.Read more
This supplement is specifically made for your joints, as stated on the bottle. It is a bit more diluted than other products, but it provides positive results quickly and helps relieve your symptoms over time.
This supplement provides you with 1050mg of Glucosamine and 750mg of MSM. It requires you take 2 tablets 2 times a day.
In addition to being highly affordable, one bottle of this product is sold with a 2 month's worth supply.
4. Doctor’s Best Glucosamine
GMO- and gluten-free
Helps rebuild cartilage
Pain returns immediately upon not taking supplement
This non-GMO and gluten-free glucosamine supplement contains three ingredients that are proven to rebuild cartilage to keep your joints cushioned and pain-free when you run.Read more
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.
5. Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine
Reported reduction in knee pain
May cause increases in ocular pressure
This glucosamine supplement is a wholesale generic brand, but don’t let that fool you. It contains two ingredients that work together to fight pain caused by a lack of joint cushioning and lubrication. It does not contain chondroitin as many other glucosamine supplements do.Read more
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.
6. Schiff Glucosamine
Does not contain chondroitin
Schiff Glucosamine Plus MSM provides the highest potency of glucosamine for healthy joints and cartilage. It contains additional ingredients that also help with strength and lubrication.Read more
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.
7. Schiff Move Free Advanced
Quick relief from pain
Includes compounds that occur naturally in the body
Works within one month
Must take 3 pills per day
This glucosamine supplement is a power-packed combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and hyaluronic acid. Just three of these tablets each day will chase your joint pain away.Read more
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.
8. Wellesse Joint Movement Glucosamine
High concentration of glucosamine
No artificial sweeteners
Artificially sweetened taste
This glucosamine supplement is unique in that it is a liquid formula. It also contains one of the highest concentrations of glucosamine of any supplement.Read more
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.
9. Zenwise Labs Joint Support Pro-Mobility Formula
Takes effect in less than one month
Supplemental ingredients are natural
Higher price than most other supplements
Zenwise labs created a glucosamine supplement to promote overall mobility. It combines glucosamine and two other movement-supporting supplements to help you run pain-free. This glucosamine supplement also includes natural ingredients to help improve the effectiveness of its main ingredients.Read more
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.
10. Universal Nutrition Animal Flex
Offers joint construction, support, and lubrication
Potential side effects
Animal Flex glucosamine supplement is geared toward serious lifters. Taken once daily, this 8-time award winning glucosamine supplement will not only relieve your aches and pains, it will also help repair all of your joints, including your elbows, knees, and hips.Read more
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.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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, (methylsulfonylmethane, 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.
When you aren’t producing a sufficient amount of glucosamine, you’re going to experience a lot of pain. This comes from bone on bone contact that’s not properly cushioned by connective tissues or synovial fluid. This can feel like grinding, residual pain after activity, or a consistent throbbing that lasts all day. Joint pain gets exponentially worse when you try to run or jump without the right level of cushioning. While braces and certain stretches can help, adding a glucosamine supplement to your health regimen can make a huge difference.
Glucosamine is known to decrease inflammation, reduce joint pain, and help your body to naturally replace tissue and cartilage. Taking a daily supplement usually results in improved mobility and a decrease in pain after 6 to 8 weeks. These supplements shouldn’t replace a doctor’s visit if you’re experiencing an unusual amount of pain, and you should always consult with a physician before starting anything new.
It’s easy to ignore your body’s need for glucosamine until you start feeling the effects of not having enough. If you’re a runner, you definitely don’t want to wait until you feel pain to start taking a supplement that could have prevented it in the first place. Preventative measures can keep you on your feet and reduce residual damage from the constant abuse that your joints take. Glucosamine is something that our bodies produce naturally. When you put additional stress on your joints, you may not be able to make enough to keep your joints properly lubricated.
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.
This is also another issue that goes along with getting old. Our bodies tend to stop being as efficient in our old age as they were when we were young. This means you’re probably not producing enough glucosamine to keep your joints healthy, and a supplement can improve mobility longer. We looked at the way that each of these supplements improved joint pain and mobility over a significant period of time for athletes. The effectiveness of the supplement is the reason why you should take it in the first place—which is why this went so far up on our list of criteria.
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.
As with any medicine or supplement, the potency for each dose is important. On one hand, having pills with smaller concentrations will make it easier for more sensitive individuals to fine-tune their servings to make sure they get the dosage that is the perfect fit for their needs. On the other hand, pills with much higher concentrations of key ingredients will ensure that one bottle lasts longer and can provide faster results. It's ultimately up to the individual and their needs to decide which is the better approach, but this rating serves to accurately evaluate each product based on these criteria.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Some of the ingredients contained in these supplements can cause some annoying side effects, such as nausea or headaches, if you take too much. For that reason, it's recommended that anyone taking these supplements measure out their dosages carefully. Remember: you can always take more, but you can't take less.
It doesn't matter if the medicine or supplement you are interested in taking is severe or minor; you should always consult a medical professional beforehand. Talking to your physician will help you understand what to expect and can even provide you with insight into alternative remedies or treatment methods.
Other Factors to Consider
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 pain.
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.
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 risk of having an allergic reaction to glucosamine supplements.
Do you prefer taking your supplements in the form of a pill or a 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.
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.
Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean that it’s going to perform better than other supplements. When we looked at value, we looked at more than just the cost of the glucosamine. We also looked at how long the effects from that particular supplement lasted compared to the amount that you ultimately paid for it. Getting a huge number of pills for a bargain price doesn’t do you any good if they don’t work. Most of the items on our list start out at around six cents per pill or serving. Some are 2 to 3 times that amount, but these are definitely worth what you pay. On average, you’re going to spend between 15 and $30 on a high-quality supplement. This is due to the effectiveness of the ingredients used, and the purity of the supplement itself.
But that does not necessarily mean you can, with confidence, the 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 the 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 the 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 glucosamine 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.
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.
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.