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Benefits of Glucosamine Sulfate vs HCl for Joints

Glucosamine is a metabolic derivative of cellular glucose, which readily absorbs within the gastrointestinal tract. Glucosamine is an important component of cartilage, the tissue that provides cushioning for joints, as well as synovia, a viscous fluid that reduces friction within joints. Glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride are the two most common forms of the compound.1

When choosing a joint support supplement you will be confronted with an array of choices. There's various combinations of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. Glucosamine and chondroitin come in two different flavors: sulfate or hydrochloride. These refer to the anion that is associated with the main glucosamine/chondroitin molecule.

Glucosamine HCI vs Sulfate

   Glucosamine Sulfate Glucosamine HCI
 Number of research articles on Google Scholar  24,200 for “glucosamine sulfate arthritis” as of 2/10/2020   18,100 for “glucosamine hcl arthritis” as of 2/10/2020
 Food Sources  Shellfish  Shellfish
 Molar Mass  277.25 g/mol  179.17 g/mol
 Recommended Dose  1500 mg/day  1500 mg/day


Glucosamine Sulfate

Glucosamine sulfate is a naturally occurring compound found in your cartilage. It is also found in the shells of shellfish, which is where most glucosamine sulfate supplements come from, though the compound can also be synthesized in labs. There are otherwise no natural food sources for glucosamine sulfate.2

Our Recommendation

We believe that the sulfate form of these ingredients is better because the individual components of cartilage are glycosaminoglycans which contain sulfate. No studies have been done comparing the efficacy of supplementation using the sulfate form versus the hydrochloride form. However, based on the molecular structure of cartilage consisting mostly of chondroitin SULFATE and keratin SULFATE we believe it was a better choice to source the sulfate form of these raw materials.

Glucosamine sulfate supplements appear to be safe and beneficial options for people who cannot take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or want an alternative to NSAIDs. However, many glucosamine sulfate and HCl products are derived from shellfish, so if you have a shellfish allergy, we recommend consulting with your doctor for an alternative.

Benefits of Glucosamine

  1. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder of the joints. It can affect any of the body’s joints but is usually found in the hips, knees, neck, hands and lower back. Studies have found that a daily dose of 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate may significantly reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis in the lower limbs. Related studies also found that glucosamine sulfate may prevent the narrowing of joint spaces in patients diagnosed with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, which also reduced the need for osteoarthritis-related surgery.3 This chondroprotective effect of glucosamine sulfate was also found to hold true in rabbits.6
  1. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease involving an attack on the body’s joints by the immune system. The effects of glucosamine on rheumatoid arthritis are less clear. Studies involving glucosamine supplementation for RA patients found symptomatic benefits but no other objectively measurable benefits of gluosamine for RA.4
  1. Reduces inflammation – glucosamine and chondroitin are protective against colorectal and lung cancers. These effects have been attributed to glucosamine and chondroitin’s ability to inhibit NF-kappaB.5

Again, we recommend use of joint supplements containing glucosamine sulfate. There is a greater number of studies on glucosamine sulfate compared to glucosamine HCl. Glucosamine sulfate is also a good source of sulfate which is found in chondroitin sulfate, an important structural component of cartilage.

While glucosamine is one of the main ingredients that should be found in every joint supplement, it is not the only beneficial ingredient for joint health. DrFormulas® Joint Support supplement features glucosamine sulfate in addition to 27 other ingredients for joint health.