N-Acetyl Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a type of simple sugar derived from glucose that is one of the building blocks for joint tissue and other connective tissues. It contains amino acids and glucose. N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) is one form of this sugar. Don’t get it confused with other forms of glucosamine, Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride, because N-Acetyl Glucosamine is different, both structurally and in the way the body handles its action. NAG has a larger and more complex molecule attached to it as compared to a smaller sulfur or chloride molecule. As a natural product of the human body, supplementation with N-Acetyl Glucosamine can be used to treat certain health problems.

What is N-Acetyl Glucosamine Used to Treat?
There is evidence that this glucosamine supplement can be used to treat some disorders in humans, but the effects are still being studied. So far, the list is quite limited, only covering osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. The latter includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. These two bowel diseases affect both the intestines and rectum.

How It Works
N-Acetyl works to help decrease inflammation and pain in the bones and joints by repairing cartilage. Additionally, it increases the range of motion that is lacking with osteoarthritis. Combined with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle factors, N-Acetyl Glucosamine promotes quick healing of injuries to bone joints. NAG also helps mend mucosal lining after it has been damaged. When the repair, for some reason or another, does not happen, that is what causes the different forms of irritable bowel diseases. The mucosal lining is the primary defense barrier and, if not sealed properly, allows for harmful organisms to get past it, and digestion to not occur as it should. In this way, N-Acetyl Glucosamine protects the lining of the stomach and intestines.

Dosage and Side Effects
The N-Acetyl Glucosamine supplement comes from shellfish. Therefore, those with fish allergies should refrain from using this product. Other than that, no known adverse side effects have yet been discovered. At this time, there are also varying recommendations for the dosage, depending on the patient’s age, weight, and gender. Generally, between 1,000-1,500 milligrams is advised, but always first listen to the healthcare professional, pharmacist, or heed to what the supplement bottle says. Do not ever take more than is directed because in too high of doses, unexpected reactions might occur.

There is a small list of drugs that should not be taken at the same time as N-Acetyl Glucosamine supplementation because of harmful or unwanted interactions that these drugs can have with each other.

  • Warfarin: Also known as Coumadin, this medication is used to slow blood clotting. The combination of taking these two drugs together can dramatically increase the effectiveness of Warfarin. This can lead to serious bruising and bleeding. Avoid taking these two medications together.
  • Chemotherapy Treatments: Be particularly careful with this combination because it is suggested that if used simultaneously, the effectiveness of cancer treatment will be decreased. This is certainly not a desirable result. Discuss this option of taking N-Acetyl Glucosamine with your physician if you’re doing chemotherapy and if NAG seems to be your best option.
  • Diabetes Medications (Antidiabetes drugs): This concern comes from two angles. First, glucosamine might increase blood sugar levels in those with Diabetes; second, glucosamine supplementation may, again, decrease the effectiveness of the diabetes medications. However, the studies are not conclusive, so the best thing to do is talk with your physician, and closely monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day if the decision to start on the NAG is opted for.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): The suggestion that these two drugs might interact stems from the decreased effectiveness of both when they’re used together. Talk with your healthcare provider because this is not definitive.
Last updated on Nov 23rd, 2010 and filed under Health Supplements. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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