Healthspan January 31, 2019

Glucosamine, one of the most popular joint supplements, has a dual status as both a food supplement and a medicine. The strength at which glucosamine is classed as a medicine has recently been changed, meaning glucosamine suppliers have had to make some changes to their ranges. Here's what you need to know.

New Rules

In a bid to distinguish glucosamine medicines from glucosamine supplements, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently ruled that food supplements could no longer provide more than 1,100mg of base glucosamine. This meant that any food supplements containing a higher dose would have to be changed to contain less glucosamine.

To comply with this legislation, certain companies, including Healthspan, have decided to reformulate some of their glucosamine products to provide a slightly lower dose, or to change the recommended dose from three tablets a day to two.

HCl or Sulphate?

Whether or not a product needs to be changed, however, depends on the type of glucosamine-salt the product uses; glucosamine cannot exist on its own, and instead must always be bound to a salt. Most companies choose between HCl and sulphate 2KCl.

Glucosamine HCl provides 40% more actual glucosamine per gram than glucosamine sulphate 2KCl. One 1,500mg tablet of glucosamine HCl contains 1,250mg of base glucosamine, whereas one 1,500mg tablet of glucosamine sulphate 2KCl contains 888mg. The strength stated on the product's label (such as 1,500mg) mostly refers to the quantity of glucosamine-salt used, not to the base level of glucosamine in the product.

Glucosamine HCl provides 40% more actual glucosamine per gram than glucosamine sulphate 2KCl. One 1,500mg tablet of glucosamine HCl contains 1,250mg of base glucosamine, whereas one 1,500mg tablet of glucosamine sulphate 2KCl contains 888mg. The strength stated on the product's label (such as 1,500mg) mostly refers to the quantity of glucosamine-salt used, not to the base level of glucosamine in the product.

Product impact

Its lower level of base glucosamine means a 1,500mg glucosamine sulphate 2KCl tablet can remain the same under the new MHRA legislation, but a 1,500mg glucosamine HCl tablet will contain too high a level of actual glucosamine to be compliant with the new rules.

Healthspan has therefore reformulated some of its glucosamine products to provide a slightly lower dose. For other products, we have changed the recommended dose from three tablets a day to two. For more information about our product changes, check out our Glucosamine FAQ.

Our reassurance

The fact that glucosamine has been recognised as a medicine with real therapeutic value for mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee is good news.

Healthspan is unusual among supplement providers in that we have always made our glucosamine products to a pharmaceutical standard known as GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). This ensures purity and quality and means each tablet provides a consistent dose - just like a medicine, in fact.

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