Vegetarian glucosamine enters joint health drink

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulfate, Osteoarthritis, Cargill

The development of a new joint health drink made with glucosamine
for the US market highlights how the popular joint health
ingredient is spreading from the supplement arena to the food and
beverage category.

So far, glucosamine has been mainly used as a base ingredient in dietary supplements. It has been shown to help rebuild and repair human cartilage, and Is often used in conjunction with chondroitin, which gives cartilage elasticity. However, ingredient manufacturers have increasingly been seeking GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for their glucosamine ingredients, opening up a new market for the products. The new joint health beverage, developed by the Elations Company together with ingredient supplier Cargill, is marketed as a supplement drink. It contains Cargill's Regenasure glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) ingredient, as well as chondroitin and calcium citrate malate (CCM), which combines calcium, citric acid and malic acid, and is said to help strengthen bones. Vegetarian glucosamine ​ A major limitation for the use of glucosamine has been that the ingredient is usually derived from shell-fish. This means that it is not suitable for use by vegetarians, people who are allergic to shell fish, and those who adhere to a Kosher diet. In an effort to meet this gap in the market, a number of vegetarian sources of glucosamine have started appearing, including Cargill's Regenasure, derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger, and Cyanotech's​ JointAstin. DNP International also launched a vegetarian glucosamine at the end of last year, as did China-based Hygieia Health in January this year. The latest addition to the list was Ethical Naturals, which launched its GreenGrown vegetarian glucosamine at the end of January. Until the middle of last year, Cargill was promoting Regenasure as the only non-animal glucosamine available on the market. However, with the emergence of competitor ingredients, Cargill is now promoting its ingredient as "the only commercially available non-animal, non-shellfish glucosamine that is domestically produced". Regenasure ​Minneapolis-based Cargill received GRAS status for Regeansure in March last year. According to the company, the ingredient is highly soluble and clean tasting. It has already been picked up by leading beverage maker Coca-Cola, which used it in a Minute Maid beverage launched last year. Each serving of the beverage is said to contain half the daily amount of glucosamine demonstrated by clinical trials to be effective in promoting joint health (750 mg). Glucosamine benefits ​ The joint health benefits of glucosamine have been reported in numerous clinical trials, most notably the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), sponsored by the National Institute of Health, that studied the effect of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements on 1583 people with osteoarthritis and found that the combination supplement was highly efficacious in reducing moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis pain (New England Journal of Medicine​, Vol. 354, pp. 795-808).

Related topics: Bone & joint health

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