Glucosamine And Weight Loss: A Research Based Review

Glucosamine is a compound that forms part of the tissue and building structure of outer shells of crustaceans like crabs and shrimps. It forms a part of the structure with other compounds like chitin and chitosan.

It is made naturally in humans and forms a part of the cartilage. It is to be used only as a dietary supplement. However science states that combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate can help in treating osteoarthritis.

Now some of those taking treatment for osteoarthritis are found to be obese or suffering from metabolic disease which is why scientists wonder whether glucosamine can have an additional effect on body composition.

What does science have to say about role of glucosamine in weight loss?

There is limited scientific evidence investigating the effect of glucosamine on body composition. Nevertheless we will go over what they have to present.

Animal studies investigating role of glucosamine on body weight

Cell culture and animal studies show that glucosamine treatment prevents growth of developing fat cells into mature fat cells and prevents lipid accumulation.

An animal study  demonstrated that administration of glucosamine reversed the unhealthy changes brought about by high fat diet. It reduced deposition of fats, abnormal leptin levels and insulin resistance.  This study shows that glucosamine can combat unhealthy metabolic changes associated with obesity.

Now here is an interesting study . Korean researchers investigating the effect of glucosamine on body weight, split mice into two groups, one received chow diet and other received high fat diet. Some mice from both the groups received glucosamine.

It was observed that glucosamine increased body weight in mice receiving chow diet and also impaired insulin activity in the liver. To the contrary, it reduced body weight gain and insulin resistance in those receiving a high fat diet.

What does this mean?
Animal studies show that glucosamine administration can attenuate body weight gain caused by high fat diet and prevent accumulation of fats.

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Studies on humans exploring role of glucosamine on metabolic health

In a study  investigating the effect of treatment style on sedentary women with knee osteoarthritis, individuals were randomly allotted to high carbohydrate or high protein diet with exercise regime. They also received glucosamine and other supplements.

At the end of the study, reduction in body mass and fat mass was observed.  With improvement in parameters related to osteoarthritis, reduction in insulin resistance was also seen. Since multiple factors like diet and exercise are involved one can’t typically conclude that the weight loss was due to glucosamine.

Polyglucosamine is proven to reduce weight gain in animals and the effect increases with increase in dosage.  In a clinical trial, participants received a low calorie diet and exercise along with polyglucosamine or placebo.

After 25 weeks, the weight loss was 5.8kg in glucosamine group and 4kg in placebo group. It was concluded that polyglucosamine increases weight loss outcomes of low calorie diet.

Theoretically it is thought that since glucosamine is involved in a biological pathway, excess administration of it can induce insulin resistance. But clinical trials on humans show that glucosamine does not cause any such harmful metabolic changes.

What does this mean?
No significant studies are available that suggest that glucosamine supplementation can help reduce body weight.

Dosage

There is no specific dose for glucosamine. It is available as tablet, capsule or powder as glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and n-acetyl glucosamine. It is preferable to choose a supplement without manganese. Dose would as prescribed by the manufacturer.
Do not take any supplement without your doctor’s consent.

Precautions

Side effects with glucosamine are minor and could be limited to gastrointestinal effects. In case you are allergic to shellfish do not take it. Possible drug interactions include:

  • Blood thinning medication
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood sugar lowering drugs
  • Cancer medications

Conclusion

Glucosamine is approved as a dietary supplement but not for any specific condition. It is proven to effective in treating osteoarthritis.

Apart from animal studies which are limited, there is no other significant evidence that states that glucosamine helps in losing weight. I would definitely not recommend glucosamine for weight loss at least based on the scientific evidence available till date.

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