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Glucosamine Stops Knee Arthritis in Women

Supplement Likely Benefits All Types of People, All Joints, Say Researchers

All Joints Can Benefit continued...

Glucosamine is naturally produced by the body and found primarily in joint cartilage, where it's believed to help maintain joint health and resilience. Although glucosamine supplements have long enjoyed a reputation for easing knee pain, only recently have they garnered convincing scientific evidence to back up these claims.

These supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA, contain glucosamine extracted from tissues of shellfish. They come in two forms: glucosamine sulfate, like that used in Rovati's studies, and glucosamine hydrochloride.

"The difference between the two is the added salts used," says Klippel, former clinical director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Glucosamine is the active ingredient, so one would suspect a similar result from either type." The prescription product used in Rovati's study is chemically similar to glucosamine sulfate products sold in the U.S., but did not contain chondroitin or methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), as many do.

Still, Klippel tells WebMD that there is no evidence to indicate that glucosamine should be taken as a preventative measure before menopause onset, to reduce a woman's later risk of knee problems. "On the other hand, this study confirms that if you already have osteoarthritis, taking glucosamine may be a good thing to do."

But it may not be enough: "Although glucosamine may be helpful, it's also part of a much larger treatment plan -- and that should include weight management and physical activity," says Klippel. "Both are important, not only to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, but also reducing symptoms once it has been diagnosed."

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