Glucosamine is probably the most common, popular and studied joint supplement there is. Glucosamine works differently than type II collagen. While type II collagen has more of an autoimmune and inflammation component, glucosamine works directly on cartilage. Before understanding how glucosamine works, we must first must know the basics of how our joints work and more importantly, how our cartilage works. Cartilage is the main component of our joints. It acts as a buffer or padding between bones to allow for free and easy movement. While many people think of cartilage as permanent or unchanging, this is not the case. Cartilage has a turnover rate, although its ability to regenerate is very small. However, this regeneration is critical in maintaining joint function and health. One of the key components in cartilage regeneration is glucosamine. It is responsible for producing the most important components of the extracellular matrix of cartilage and the synovial fluid outside of collagen itself. Glucosamine production is also considered the rate-limiting step in glycosaminoglycan synthesis. This means that the amount of glucosamine present is directly related to the joint’s ability to produce building blocks for regeneration. There is an abundance of studies showing the joint improving because of the benefits of glucosamine. These studies consistently show positive results and it seems the most prominent effect of glucosamine is preventing joint degradation. However, exactly how much of an effect it has is still up for debate. Basically, we know it works, it’s just a question of how much it works. As jiu-jitsu athletes, anything that helps with joints is a definite must. The most effective dosages are between 1500 and 3000 mgs daily.
Jiu-jitsu is extremely rough on joints and therefore, you should take extra care of them. Your joints are a depreciating commodity. Proper injury prevention and rehabbing are a must. Joint supplements can definitely help with joint health, but like anything else, they are supplements and not magic pills. They will not “fix” your joints. They can however, slow down the degradation process and help your joints last longer. But remember, nothing will fix a popped elbow besides tapping in time. Safe training!