Glucosamine can be found in three forms, as glucosamine hydrocholride (HCl), as glucosamine sulfate, and as N-acetyl-glucosamine. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that can be found naturally in the body but that can be taken as a supplement; it can be derived from marine exoskeletons. Glucosamine is needed for the synthesis of glycolipids, glycoproteins, and glycosaminoglycans, all of which are found in the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessles, the eyes, the heart valves, and more. Glucosamine also motivates the metabolism of chondrocytes, which can be found in the tissues and cartilage. Heparin (involved in blood clotting) is largely made up of glucosamine. Glucosamine is involved in the maintenance, structure, and function of cartilage in the joints. There is also evidence anti-inflammatory abilities. It is important to maintain glucosamine levels as we age.
Glucosamine should not be combined with acetaminophen, anticoagulant, or antidiabetic drugs due to negative reactions and decreased effectiveness of the drugs. If a diabetic uses a glucosamine supplement, it is important that their blood glucose levels be closely monitored.
Glucosamine may cause mild adverse effects such as nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, drowsiness, skin irritations, headache and constipation. Elevated blood glucose levels have been reported by some people with diabetes.