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Glucosamine Sulfate Supplement Ingredient Investigation

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Bottle of GNC Glucosamine Sulfate

Do you take a glucosamine sulfate supplement? Is that supplement 365 Everyday Value Glucosamine Chondroitin (from Whole Foods) or GNC Glucosamine Sulfate (from GNC)? If so, you should check the ingredient label and see if you’re really getting what you want.

If the ingredient list shows glucosamine sulfate potassium chloride or glucosamine sulfate 2KCL, that may be an inferior substance to “real” glucosamine sulfate.

Glucosamine is best known as a treatment for osteoarthritis and joint pain, particularly of the knees. Some people may also take it to treat glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, jaw or back pain, or multiple sclerosis. 

Glucosamine is a natural substance found in the fluid cushioning joints. It can also be found in seafood shells or made in the lab. In the body, it may help build cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. However, it comes in at least three forms—glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. Some forms may be better than others for joint pain relief.

Most of the research on glucosamine has been done with glucosamine sulfate, and studies show that it works better than, for example, glucosamine hydrochloride. Sometimes, in older people, the cartilage at the joints gets thin, and the sulfate may help build up more cartilage. Some people believe that glucosamine sulfate is thus better at relieving joint pain because it can keep degeneration of the joints from worsening.

Unfortunately, some supplements that are sold as glucosamine sulfate are merely other forms of glucosamine, with or without a sulfate added. Supplements are not regulated as tightly as drugs, and unfortunately the amount of active ingredients can vary considerably across different brands or even different lots. 

WebMD says, “In some cases, the amount of glucosamine actually in the product has varied from none to over 100% of the amount stated on the product’s label. Some products have contained glucosamine hydrochloride when glucosamine sulfate was listed on the label.” Some formulations may include glucosamine hydrochloride with potassium sulfate. This formulation may not work as well as a “real” glucosamine sulfate. In any case, federal and state laws prohibit false labeling of products.

If you bought one of the supplements above, or any other supplement that claims to be glucosamine sulfate but where the ingredient list shows something else, we’d like to hear from you. Fill out the form on this page and let us know what you bought and what your experience was.

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