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Study Finds Glucosamine Doesn’t Help or Prevent Knee Problems

Filed March 11th, 2014 Laurie

Drinking a daily glucosamine drink won’t help or prevent knee pain or deterioration, according to a recently released study.

The popular supplement is sold in the forms of glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine occurs naturally in humans and other animals and helps to build tissue, cartilage, and some bones. Manufacturers claim glucosamine promotes healthy joints and cartilage, and it is used by about 10 percent of Americans. It also purportedly slows the progression of knee osteoarthritis, latimes.com reported.

For the study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers followed about 200 adults between the ages of 35 and 65 who complained of knee pain. Approximately half of study patients were given 1,500 mg doses of glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce lemonade drink each day. The other half was given placebo in the form of plain lemonade, according to latimes.com.

The study subjects were given MRIs at the beginning and end of the 24-week study. Patients also reported on their knee pain and their urine was tested for levels of C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type II collagen (CTX-II), a molecular marker for cartilage tissue degradation. At the end of the study, researchers found no evidence that glucosamine was more effective than placebo in improving joint health.

Glucosamine has long been considered relatively harmless, but studies have shown it can cause dangerous side effects during surgery. Glucosamine chemically mimics human insulin, and may cause hypoglycemia during surgery.

The most recent study was funded by Coca-Cola Co.’s Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness. Coca-Cola’s used to make Minute Maid brand orange juice with glucosamine.

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