Glucosamine And Diabetes – Is It Safe?What Type Should You Take?

Glucosamine and diabetes is one of those things that many people search for on the Internet. The two basic inquiries are:

What is glucosamine?

How does it relate to diabetes?

The answer has varied a bit over time but newer research has shed some light on this somewhat elusive subject.

Basically, glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance that is a combination of glucose and an amino group. The chemical composition can get a lot more complicated, however, just know that it is a combination of glucose and something else. The substance is found in your blood and joints.


glucosamineGenerally, glucosamine is thought to help lessen osteoarthritis pain and slow the degeneration of your cartilage, possibly even help to build the cartilage back up.

Cartilage is part of the cushion between our joints. Lessening the pain or improving joint health is important. As we get older, the cartilage in our bones thins and our joints begin to stiffen and ache, even degenerate.

There are three different types:

  • Glucosamine Hydrochloride
  • Glucosamine Sulfate
  • N-acetyl Glucosamine

For the purposes of this article, the third type is not important. However, the difference between the first two is. Glucosamine is a very popular nutritional supplement. The supplement form can be made from seashells or through other lab processes.

The problem is that most studies now show that Glucosamine Hydrochloride probably does not help in joint health. However, Glucosamine Sulfate may help in relieving osteoarthritis pain and the maintenance of healthy joints. This is great news for all of us with creaky stiff joints.


The fear about glucosamine and diabetes is that since it is made from glucose, it could raise your blood sugar and/or affect your diabetes medications that lower your blood sugar. Early research supported this viewpoint.

However, more recent research concludes that there is probably not any affect on your blood sugar or impact on the effectiveness on diabetes medications. This is obviously good news for your sore joints.

There is one caveat. While researchers are quick to point out success, they do caution that you monitor your blood sugar levels closely. This sounds a lot like lawyers, not researchers!

There is also a product warning that if you take Warfarin (Coumadin), then glucosamine can increase the effectiveness of this medication. So, look out!


Here is where we have another problem. As noted above, Glucosamine Hydrochloride is not been found to be effective for joint health. However, many supplements on the market today actually use the Hydrochloride version.

Incredibly, sometimes the label simply states “Glucosamine” or it will state “Glucosamine Sulfate”. However, the substance used is actually Glucosamine Hydrochloride or it will be Glucosamine Hydrochloride and some sulfate additive. In any case, this is not what you want. So, make sure you use a supplement you trust.

Lastly, you may also see Glucosamine Sulfate and other additives, most commonly Chondroitin Sulfate. Chondroitin Sulfate is another substance that has been found to possibly reduce osteoarthritis pain.


Glucosamine in its natural form is from the shells of various crustaceans like shrimp and lobster. You may get trace amounts of glucosamine if eat the meat of these foods. Some more hard core natural food advocates ground the shells of shrimp and add them to various recipes, such as soups.

Nonetheless, you will probably want to check with your doctor before going this route!


Glucosamine Sulfate, Medline Plus, National Institute of Health (accessed July 2012).

Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Medline Plus, National Institute of Health (accessed July 2012)
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed February 2013.