Can Glucosamine Cause Liver Damage?

Can glucosamine cause liver damage?

Glucosamine is currently one of the most widely used ingredients in pre-made joint health stacks. This natural building block of your connective tissues certainly deserves to be one of the most popular joint supplements; it is extraordinarily effective for promoting joint health and flexibility.

However, as glucosamine has become so widely used, it’s worth stopping to consider its safety, particularly over the long-term.

Does glucosamine cause liver damage?

Should you worry about how much glucosamine you’re taking?

How safe is this popular joint supplement?

Let’s find out!

Glucosamine and the liver

Most of the concern about glucosamine and the liver comes from an article published in the Telegraph, which you can read here.

The story details how a 64 year old man died weeks after he started taking a glucosamine supplement to ease his joint pain.

Dr John Dillon, a consultant gastroenterologist at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, said he could not prove it caused Mr Ferrie’s death but the association was “very worrying”.

He did say the public should be warned about the potential dangers of supplements and herbal remedies, but not that he could pinpoint glucosamine as the cause.

However, there are apparently other cases of people having “a reaction” to glucosamine and dying shortly afterwards; these are detailed in the linked Telegraph article.

So what happened here? Did glucosamine cause this man’s liver to fail?

Well, it is certainly one possibility. Yet glucosamine is a very widely used supplement, and these sorts of reactions are rare.

A much more likely explanation, I think, is that the origin of the glucosamine in this case (shellfish) caused an allergic or pro-inflammatory reaction which severely damaged an already damaged liver.

At the time of the case, an arthritis charity rightly said that they would be “surprised” if it turned out that glucosamine caused this man’s death, or if it caused any kind of liver damage in most people at all.

What’s more, it isn’t clear whether the man in question was taking glucosamine and nothing more. There are certainly plenty of supplements which can inflame the liver – even cause it serious damage.

I am not a doctor and this is not medical opinion. Nor is it advice in any way shape and form. I just suspect that a supplement as thoroughly tested as glucosamine – and as widely used – is causing insidious liver damage which has so far only manifested itself in a handful of patients.

Much more likely to my mind is that people with shellfish allergies should not use shellfish-derived glucosamine while their liver (or any other organ) is impaired.

Bottom line

Glucosamine has been implicated – in isolated cases – in clinically apparent liver injury. However the role of glucosamine as opposed to other ingredients in joint supplements has not been proven, and serious liver injury due to glucosamine must be very rare, if it occurs at all.

What Vitamin Is Good For Achy Joints?

What vitamin is good for achy joints?

Achy joints are a real problem for competitive athletes. This is especially true of athletes in sports that give the joints a real pounding; long-distance running, cycling, mountain biking, weight lifting, etc. The body simply isn’t designed to take that kind of pounding on an almost daily basis (which is how often competitive athletes need to train to stay on top).

As such, anyone training to try to reach the top 1% of their sport is going to eventually experience joint pain. They might have aching joints from weekly benching sessions (which causes shoulder and elbow pain over time if using very heavy weights), or it might be chronic achy legs caused by long-distance cycling done on a daily basis.

Luckily though, achy joints is not something that you need to just put up with. There are lots of ways you can actively seek to reduce pain from aching joints. There are practices you can do, like hot and cold treatment, or there are supplements you can take.

There are even simple vitamins supplements you can use to reduce achy joints.

What is a good vitamin for reducing joint pain?

Let’s answer this question in detail. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll get right back to you.

Best vitamin for achy joints

So what is the best vitamin to take for achy joints?

Unfortunately, there is no vitamin which is known to acutely reduce joint pain. This is because no vitamins have painkilling or anti-inflammatory properties (at least none significant enough to reduce joint pain acutely).

However, there are vitamins you can take daily to reduce the occurrence of aching joints over the long-term. I believe this to be the best approach for enhancing joint health generally; optimizing joint strength and health rather than trying to fix problems after they’ve manifested themselves.

The best vitamin for promoting long-term joint health (and thereby reducing aches and pains in the joints) is Vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium in the gut. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, then you will simply not be able to properly absorb the calcium in your food. It will just pass through your digestive system un-absorbed. Long-term, this will leave your bones substantially weaker and prone to injury. That goes for your bones too.

Unfortunately today, a significant number of people are chronically deficient in Vitamin D. As we spend the majority of our time indoors, we tend to get nowhere near enough sun exposure to trigger the release of optimal amounts of Vitamin D.

Likewise, our diets are increasingly devoid of natural food sources of Vitamin D; egg yolks, oily fish, liver, etc.

So to safeguard your joints from chronic calcium deprivation, a vitamin D supplement might be wise!

Bottom line

The best vitamin for achy joints is Vitamin D. It promotes calcium absorption which supports the formation of bones and connective tissues. This keeps your joints healthy for longer.

Can You Take Collagen and Glucosamine At The Same Time?

Can you take collagen and glucosamine at the same time?

Collagen and glucosamine are two extremely common joint supplements. They are both used in comprehensive joint stacks designed to enhance every aspect of joint health, from pain reduction to improving flexibility.

Yet collagen and glucosamine are not always taken together. In fact, most joint supplements contain either glucosamine or collagen; rarely are they put together. The most common way that people supplement with glucosamine is taking it as part of a pre-made joint supplement stack. Collagen, on the other hand, is typically taken as a standalone supplement (or as part of something like a face cream, or a “collagen complex”).

Why are the two seemingly kept separate by most supplement manufacturers?

Can you take collagen and glucosamine together?

Let’s find out!

Taking collagen and glucosamine at the same time

So, can you take glucosamine and collagen at the same time?

Yes, of course you can!

There is nothing about either of these supplements which makes them unsuitable for stacking. Both collagen and glucosamine have excellent side effect profiles, and they both carry very low long-term health risks.

More importantly for our question, collagen and glucosamine do not interact with one another in a meaningful way. The two substances are of course intimately linked; glucosamime is a structural component of many connective tissues, including collagen. Studies have found that supplementing with glucosamine can drastically reduce collagen deterioration in the knee. Other studies have found that glucosamine increases the production of collagen type II.

However, while these substances are physiologically linked, they do not interact with one another when used as supplements. Taking collagen does not interfere with your glucosamine supplements, and vice versa. They do not potentiate one another, and they do not make the chances of side effects increase.

But this begs another question: should you take glucosamine and collagen at the same time?

Should you take collagen and glucosamine together?

There is a good reason to hesitate before you take both glucosamine and collagen at the same time.

The reason being that collagen doesn’t seem to be very effective at all for promoting joint health!

Despite being a widely-used joint supplement, collagen does not appear to be effective for imrpogin joint health, increasing flexibility, or protecting connective tissues from damage. In fact, collagen doesn’t seem to be very effective for increasing collagen density at the joints, which is the bare minimum we would expect from it!

Surprisingly, it is glucosamine which seems to be effective for promoting collagen production and improving joint health. Studies have found that supplementing with glucosamine increases collagen formation, along with the formation of most other connective tissues (and synovial fluid to boot).

This isn’t as paradoxical as it sounds. There are lots of substances that do not work as supplements as they are not digested or absorbed by the body, or they fail to cross the blood-brain barrier (where they are needed to work). Common examples are GABA (a neurotransmitter), choline (a neurochemical building block), and collagen. The body prefers to receive the building blocks of these molecules or some kind of analogue as that is what is present in our natural diets. Ingesting the target molecule or compound itself will often lead to it passing straight through the digestive system undigested and un-absorbed.

So there’s nothing wrong with taking glucosamine and collagen together. There just might not be much point to the collagen!

Can Low Vitamin D Cause Joint Popping?

Can low Vitamin D cause joint popping?

Vitamin D is vital for maintaining good joint health. This is why many joint supplements contain a large dose of Vitamin D; we know that a large percentage of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, and since it is important for maintaining healthy bones and joints, it’s wise to supplement with it if your primary concern is joint health.

I’m not saying that every joint supplement needs to be full of Vitamin D. After all, a lot of people today – particularly the health conscious – take multivitamins, drink vitamin-infused drinks, and eat vitamin-enriched foods. So Vitamin D is not like chondroitin or glucosamine; it is something you probably get elsewhere.

But the fact remains that Vitamin D is incredibly important for joint health.

One question I was asked recently is: can low vitamin D cause joint popping?

This is a very interesting question. Few people ever think about joint popping as an issue. They tend to focus on the overall health of a joint, joint pain, or flexibility.

Yet joint popping is definitely a major problem for some people – especially those of us ho do a lot of high-impact sports like running, MMA or mountain-biking (like yours truly).

How does Vitamin D affect your joints? Does having low Vitamin D lead to popping joints? What is the best way to prevent joint popping?

Let’s find out!

Can Low Vitamin D cause joint popping?

To answer this question, we need to look at how vitamin D interacts with your joints and your bones.

The main way that Vitamin D affects your joints is by modulating the absorption of calcium in the gut.

In simple terms, Vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium in the gut. If you do not have enough Vitamin D available for use in the gut, then you will not be able to absorb calcium at an optimal rate.

This then leaves you with lower calcium levels than you might assume (for instance if you are eating lots of broccoli, leafy greens and dairy). Having a low rate of calcium absorption over many months and years can leave you with substantially weaker bones.

So can low Vitamin D cause weaker bones?

Yes absolutely.

But can low Vitamin D cause joint popping?

No.

Joint popping is not caused by weak bones. Popping in joints is caused by air bubbles accumulating in the joint and then being released all at once. Basically, day-to-day movement leads to air bubbles building up in the cavities around your joints. You may then move in a certain way that releases that air, causing a popping sound.

Joint popping is not thought to be dangerous or harmful in any way, even over the long-term. However, if you think joint popping is a problem for you, it is definitely worth going and talking to a physiotherapist or chiropractor.