Q.: I have diabetes and have been told I shouldn’t take glucosamine for joint pain – something to do with the fact that glucosamine is made in the body from a sugar. Will it be safe to take it and monitor my glucose levels? Julianna
DR DAVID NYE REPLIES:
Thank you for your interesting question. Glucosamine sulfate is a naturally occurring chemical found in the human body, and one of its components is a simple sugar. It is present in the fluid around our joints. The glucosamine used in dietary supplements is often harvested from the shells of shellfish. Glucosamine sulphate in dietary supplements can also be made synthetically in a laboratory. Originally there was concern that glucosamine would raise sugar levels in the body because of the sugar it contains. However, recent reliable research has shown that it does not raise sugar levels and is safe to use by most diabetics. However, it would be prudent to monitor sugar levels for the first few weeks of taking it.
Note that although glucosamine is commonly derived from shellfish, there is no need to be alarmed if one has an allergy to shellfish. The allergy is generally due to the flesh and not to the shell.