According to an epidemiological study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine from West Virginia University, glucosamine supplements may reduce overall mortality just about as well as regular exercise does.
“Does this mean that if you get off work at five o’clock one day, you should just skip the gym, take a glucosamine pill and go home instead?” said Dana King, professor, and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, who led the study. “That’s not what we suggest. Keep exercising, but the thought that taking a pill would also be beneficial is intriguing.”
For this study data was assessed from 16,686 adults who were aged 40+ and completed the National Health and Nutrition Survey(US NHANES) from 1999-to 2010. This data was merged with the 2015 mortality figures and controlled for various factors like age, sex, smoking status, and physical activity level.
According to the researchers, taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day for a year or longer was found to be associated with a 39% reduction in all-cause mortality, and it was also linked to a 65% reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths. The category of cardiovascular-related deaths includes stroke, coronary artery disease, and heart disease, the biggest killer in America.
King says that he takes glucosamine/chondroitin himself, this is one of the most common formulations of glucosamine supplements. “I’m in a local cyclists’ club, and we go for rides on weekends,” he said. “One day I asked the other cyclists if they took glucosamine, and everyone did. And I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if this is really helpful?’ That’s how I got curious about it.”
King notes that this is not a clinical trial, rather it’s an epidemiological study, as such it does not offer definitive proof that glucosamine/chondroitin makes death less likely, and that the results are very encouraging.
“In my view, it’s important that people know about this, so they can discuss the findings with their doctor and make an informed choice,” he said. “Glucosamine is over the counter, so it is readily available.”
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage, in supplement form it is harvested from shells of shellfish or made in a lab. Supplements come in several forms of glucosamine, including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. glucosamine sulfate is typically taken to help treat osteoarthritis pain which is caused by inflammation, breakdown, and the eventual loss of cartilage, according to the Mayo Clinic.