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Glucosamine and chondroitin: uses and benefits

Glucosamine and chondroitin: uses and benefits

Published: 30 December, 2021 | 4'

What is the difference between glucosamine and chondroitin?

Both glucosamine and chondroitin are natural structural elements of the tissues of our body, especially in cartilage and the capsule that surrounds it.

Both are made up of units containing sugars and amino acids, working synergistically to promote tissue integrity, flexibility, mobility and durability.

Glucosamine plays a more important role in the maintenance of collagen and hyaluronic acid, while chondroitin is actively involved in the metabolism of cartilage and adjacent bone, promoting viscosity, strength and elasticity.

What is glucosamine useful for?

Characteristics of glucosamine

Glucosamine is the most fundamental building block required for the production of different contents within tissue, including hyaluronic acid. As a component of tissue, glucosamine plays a role in the maintenance of the cell membrane lining, collagen, growing bone and bone matrix. Glucosamine is also involved in the production of lubricants and protective agents such as mucin and mucous secretions.

Benefits of glucosamine

Through its activity it maintains the integrity and lubrication of the joint area, particularly the maintenance of stable amounts of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which can allow an optimal level of moisture for joint movements.

Foods containing glucosamine

Food sources are of animal origin, such as crustaceans (shrimps, lobster, etc.), or cartilage from pigs or cattle.

Recommended amount of glucosamine

Within the range of products marketed with this ingredient, there are a variety of dosages. However, in food supplements, the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition establishes maximum daily limits of 500 mg/day. For higher doses, it is important to ask a specialist for advice.

Side effects of glucosamine

It is important to note that glucosamine has a good tolerability profile for most people. The most common side effects are pruritus (itching) and mild digestive problems such as heartburn, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea. The only caveat is that if you are a diabetic patient you should discuss its use with a specialist.

How useful is chondroitin?

Characteristics of chondroitin


This glycosaminoglycan promotes the formation not only of the protein components of joint tissue, but is also efficient in enhancing the metabolic processes of the joints in maintaining adequate levels of the structural components of cartilage and bone.

Benefits of chondroitin

Chondroitin is a key component in giving cartilage its mechanical and elastic properties.

Foods containing chondroitin

Chondroitin is mainly contained in foods of animal origin.

Recommended amount of chondroitin

As with glucosamine, the doses given by the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition  has a maximum daily limit of 500 mg/day. For higher doses, it is important to check with a specialist.

Side effects of chondroitin

Chondroitin has shown a good tolerability profile. Common side effects include stomach pain, nausea and other digestive symptoms.

Glucosamine and chondroitin in supplementation

Glucosamine and chondroitin, their role in sport

Futbolista y glucosamina condroitinaWithin the sports practice there are different products in drinkable formats, in powder, capsules, among others, which are used very often, always with the supervision and monitoring of their doctors. Sports performance requires proper training and a healthy diet.

There are some clinical studies that show the usefulness in this area. For example:

  • In highly trained athletes with huge stress on the joints, efficiency has been shown, especially in the integrity of the joint structure.
  • In football players, as well as rugby players, it has been used with positive results in maintaining collagen levels.

Recommended amount of Glucosamine and Chondroitin

The recommended amounts are 500 mg/day for each ingredient in food supplements. For higher doses it is important to ask a specialist for advice.

How long to take Glucosamine and Chondroitin for

The length of time of intake will depend on the objectives to be achieved, generally one trimester is good to confirm the scope. However, please ask your specialist if you have any questions.

Finally, it is important to remember that a complete, varied and balanced diet provides all the nutrients necessary for the normal development and maintenance of a healthy body. Food supplements can help to provide nutrients in specific situations. They should never substitute for a healthy diet. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, always ask a health professional for advice. There is little information on the safety of many substances at this time and some may present health risks to mother and baby.

If you need to supplement your diet, your healthcare professional will be able to tell you safely. Ask your paediatrician before giving food supplements to a child. Many of these products have not been studied in this age group or are not recommended by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition