What Is Vegetarian Glucosamine?

As the human body ages, it produces less glucosamine sulfate, a process that can contribute to osteoarthritis.
Mineral and plants life are used in vegetarian glucosamine.
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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Commonly recommend for sufferers of arthritis or other skeletal disorders, glucosamine sulfate is often supplemented when the body stops making as much as it once did. Many types of glucosamine supplements, however, are made with shellfish shells, which are not tolerable for vegetarians and vegans. For these types of specialized diets, a vegetarian glucosamine is used, which is made of mineral and plant life exclusively.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), store-bought supplements of glucosamine often contain not just shellfish but also cartilage from sharks. As of 2011, this latter practice has not been scientifically proven as effective for improving the health of tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Both vegetatian or animal-derived glucosamine supplements, however, are considered "likely effective" treatments by the NIH for osteoarthritis of the knees, elbows, wrists, hips or spine. Non-vegetarian glucosamine also could derive its effective ingredient from glucosamine hydrochloride, which is found in the cartilage of any animal — from cows and chickens to pigs and whales.

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According to the NIH, these supplements relieve pain in the joints equally as well as nonprescription acetaminophen drugs like Tylenol® and anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen. Not everyone experiences benefits though. As a pain reliever, animal-based or vegetarian glucosamine may not be as effective since it can take as long as two months before improvements are noticed, whereas other pain medications can show relief within a few weeks. The NIH does state that glucosamine supplementation could also be possibly effective for improving symptoms of temporomandibular joint arthrisit, or stiffening of the jaw. Other uses of the drug, for weight loss or to improve glaucoma, have not been proven effective as of 2011.

Vegan or vegetarian glucosamine derives its effective ingredient from plant-based sources like soybeans or vegetables, or even from natural minerals like sulfer, which is needed for glucosamine hydrochloride to become glucosamine sulfate. It is also valuable for those with an allergy to shellfish. Common ingredients of vegetarian glucosamine include various types of cellulose, stearic acid, vegetable stearate, sulfur and sodium.

Dosages of vegetarian glucosamine are similar to those for animal-based supplements. About 3,000 mg of active glucosamine sulfate is recommended daily. Some blends also add essential oils to their supplements, from vegetables like avacados or soybeans. It is unclear whether this latter practice adds to the effectiveness of the product. In total, these products claim to lubricate joints and improve joint function as much as animal-based glucosamine.

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Discuss this Article

turquoise
Post 3

Vegetarian glucosamine is a good option for many people who are looking for joint health and prevention of joint and bone related illnesses. The issue with regular glucosamine is that unless the manufacturer guarantees that the glucosamine is made from shellfish, it is not suitable for those who don't eat seafood, meat or pork. For example, if the supplement is made from pig cartilage, Jews and Muslims cannot use it.

It can be difficult to know where the glucosamine is coming for sure if the manufacturer doesn't specify the source on the label. So vegetarian glucosamine is a better and safer option for people who want to make sure that they know where their supplement is coming from.

donasmrs
Post 2

@bear78-- I've never used regular glucosamine. I can't because I have a shellfish allergy. I can however tell you that vegetarian glucosamine works. I started taking it a few weeks ago and I'm seeing a great improvement. I have less pain and I have more mobility. So it definitely works.

bear78
Post 1

It seems to me that vegetarian glucosamine may not be as effective as regular glucosamine. I think that animal cartilage or shells of seafood have more benefits for cartilage, bones and joints than plants. The cartilage of animals and humans, for example, are very similar. So animal glucosamine can easily replace the glucosamine missing in the human body.

Of course, this is just speculation on my end. I've never used vegetarian glucosamine to compare it to the other types. If anyone here has tried both types and can compare their effectiveness, I would love to know about it.

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