Glucosamine is a natural substance that is found in the fluid of our joints.

It is also found in the bone marrow of animals, in fungi and shellfish. It is an essential component in the formation of cartilage and it can be extracted from shellfish to be made into a supplement for those who suffer from various arthritic conditions. Various forms of glucosamine can be found from N-Acetyl-Glucosamine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Glucosamine Sulfate. Each has a different effect when used as a supplement in our diet.

What does glucosamine do? For the elderly, glucosamine is important for building cartilage that provides cushioning between our bones. It is found throughout the body. The amount of glucosamine levels in our bodies decreases with age, which leads to the deterioration of our joints.

Those suffering from osteoarthritis can benefit from taking supplements containing glucosamine, especially if the condition is affecting their knees or hips. The benefits include reduced stiffness, reduced pain, better functioning of the joints, reduced joint swelling and relief for a few months once treatment stops. Taking supplements containing N-Acetyl-Glucosamine may be useful for those with colitis or other diseases of the digestive tract. Some research also suggests that there were no differences found in joint x-rays for deterioration in the affected joints.

Are there any side effects to glucosamine? As with any supplements, it is wise to undergo a short trial of daily amounts of glucosamine. If symptoms do not improve, then stop taking it. Short-term use of glucosamine is not likely to cause any side effects. Some combinations with other drugs may cause temporary issues headaches and drowsiness. In rare cases, it can cause heart palpitations and high blood pressure.

Of course, elderly patients with issues associated with bleeding or who are taking anti-clotting medication should always seek medical advice before taking supplements.