Glucosamine studies encourage joint health industry

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Glucosamine, Osteoarthritis, Chondroitin sulfate

The positive results of the GAIT and GUIDE glucosamin/chondroitin
studies are an encouraging sign for the industry, says Cargill,
which makes a non-shellfish derived, vegetarian glucosamine
hydrochloride.

In a study group of 1,500 osteoarthritis patients given a daily dose of either 1,500 mg of shell-fish derived glucosamine hydrochloride, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulphate, a combination of both supplements, 200 mg of the common prescription painkiller celecoxib (Celebrex) or a placebo for 24 weeks, the NIH-funded Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) found that both celecoxib and the glucosamine-chondroitin combination significantly reduced knee pain compared to placebo. Glucosamine Unum in Die Efficacy (GUIDE) trial compared a daily dose of 1500mg of glucosamine sulphate and 3000 mg of the OTC drug to a placebo in 318 patients. After 24 weeks, the glucosamine supplement was seen to have a superior effect on various pain and mobility indices of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are the two ingredients most commonly used in joint care. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database, glucosamine is contained in 48 percent of joint health supplements launched since 2000, and chondroitin in 24 percent. Since their actions are different, glucosamine (which rebuilds cartiledge) and chondroitin (which gives cartilage elasticity) are often used in conjunction with each other, such as in Leiner Health Products' Lifesmart Beneflux glucosamine and chondroitin supplement chews. However as glucosamine is usually derived from shell-fish, it is not suitable for use by vegetarians, people who are allergic to shell fish, and those who adhere to a Kosher diet. To meet the needs of these people, Cargill launched Regenasure, its glucosamine hydrochloride derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger, last year. The ingredient also gives manufacturers a more stable source, since the introduction of trade tariffs at the end of last year halved the profits made by shrimp farmers in China and other producing countries at the end of last year, causing many to give up the business and glucosamine prices to soar. In December, prices were reported to be around $20 per kilo, compared to $5 in February 2004. However James Roza, VP of business development, technology and science for SourceOne, told NutraIngredients-USA.com that prices have stabilized but remain high - even as much as $30 per kilo. This is due partly to the Asian tsumani in December, which led to concerns over the safety of fish due to contamination in the waters. Roza added that glucosamine sulphate tends to be more expensive than glucosamine hydrocholide, which is reported to be between $17 and $17 per kilo. Most of the science on glucosamine to date has been conducted using glucosamine sulphate, but in fact the GAIT study used a shell-fish derived glucosamine hydrochloride. As to how far the study results are applicable to fermented vegetarian sources, Roza said that it is possible. "But when dealing with things scientific, it is difficult to compare substances one-to-one. Unless the study was done using the Regenasure, you cannot know for sure." SourceOne Global has also indicated a readiness to meet the growing demand for glucosamine and chondroitin. Yesterday it announced that it has extended its exclusive distribution agreement with Chinese bovine chondroitin sulfate supplier Kangde. Jesse Lopez, SourceOne's founder, president and CEO, said: "SourceOne is strategically positioned to be a leading supplier of chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid - the top-three joint health ingredients with the most scientific support - with new proprietary joint health ingredients in the pipeline." External links to companies or organizations mentioned in thisstory: Cargill SourceOne Global

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