Glucosamine supplements are generally used for joint health and to slow down the progression of the ailments such as rheumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. Glucosamine products in the market are of two major forms and those are glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. Constant debates are ongoing among the users as to which form is better than the other with respect to its effectiveness and safety. Before understanding the importance of different forms, it is imperative to know the role of hydrochloride and sulfate components in the product.

Role of a delivery vehicle

Glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate products have two components. Glucosamine is the active ingredient that has to be absorbed by the cells. The hydrochloride and sulfate components, on the other hand, act as delivery vehicles. The prime function of the delivery vehicle is to deliver the active ingredient to the desired location. These delivery vehicles will most of the times have less or no biological function.

Glucosamine hydrochloride:

Glucosamine hydrochloride is derived from non-animal sources such as corn, wheat, and rice husk. The salt concentration is much lower in the hydrochloride form of glucosamine. It is also said to be a far more concentrated form of glucosamine when compared to glucosamine sulfate. One of the studies shows that glucosamine hydrochloride, when consumed as a dietary supplement could significantly reduce pain in the joints and also prevent arthritis.

For a delivery vehicle to be good, it must be stable and must not lose its functions in different environmental conditions. Glucosamine hydrochloride is more stable than glucosamine sulfate according to the studies and it does not require preservatives for its functions to be intact. Lastly, the hydrochloride form of glucosamine carries up to 83% of glucosamine.

Glucosamine sulfate:

The sulfate form of glucosamine is derived from shellfishes. Glucosamine sulfate has to be stabilized with salts like sodium chloride (NaCl) or potassium chloride (KCl) in order to keep it stable. When the glucosamine sulfate is stabilized with sodium chloride, the former will contain up to 35% salt. The sulfate form of glucosamine can carry up to 75% of glucosamine. Some studies show that glucosamine sulfate is readily absorbed by the body when compared to glucosamine hydrochloride; however, more research is needed in this area.

Glucosamine sulfate is considered to be the original form of glucosamine because shellfish was the only source of glucosamine for a long time. Research experiments have largely been conducted on this compound in order to study the effectiveness of glucosamine as a dietary supplement.

In spite of the consumption of glucosamine hydrochloride being relatively new, the trials have shown it to be just as effective as glucosamine sulfate, only with least contaminants and no allergies. Since glucosamine hydrochloride is more concentrated when compared to glucosamine sulfate, the former could be a better choice. Glucosamine hydrochloride is far more like a natural product with its non-allergic and plant-based sources that involve least chemical processing. It could be an ideal choice for individuals who practice vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and to those are intolerant to shellfish derived products. Glucosamine sulfate has got several limitations such as, poor raw material sources, environmental impact, and waste management, which is not the case with plant-derived glucosamine hydrochloride.