MSM vs. Glucosamine: What’s the Difference?

bend and stretch!Rainy weather always makes me think about my elbows and knees, because I am one of many who experience joint pain before the storm rolls in.

Though a subject of contention, barometric pressure’s effect on joint comfort isn’t the focus of this post. It can still serve as a reminder that joint health is multifaceted; genetics, acidity, candidiasis, heavy metals and exercise can all contribute to the relative wellness of the joint and surrounding synovial fluids.

This post is about the differences between two of the most popular joint support supplements available: MSM and Glucosamine.

Joint formulas often include both ingredients, offering more comprehensive support. But if you want to stick to a single ingredient option, here’s what you need to know.

MSM is a sulfur compound. Glucosamine is an amino sugar.


• is an essential mineral found in the body
• is also found in the production of various sulfur containing compounds such as insulin, keratin, collagen, chondroitin sulfate and glutathione
• is used as a building block to create new cells in the body.*
• holds together the protein strands of connective tissue, hair and nails.*

Sulfur compounds like MSM can support the body’s ability to synthesize collagen.*

Amino sugars:

• form in the body from glucose molecules
• mostly found in the surfaces of and spaces between cells
• form both membranes and the substance that binds cells

MSM is largely found in plants and in the body. Glucosamine is largely found in the hard outer shells of crustaceous animals.

That means it’s often much more difficult to find a quality vegetarian glucosamine formula. When you can find one, the glucosamine is usually sourced from corn. Certain suppliers offer higher quality materials.

MSM comes from a lot of different sources, both animal and plant – but it’s not usually sourced from crustaceans!

Both offer support for joint health.*  

MSM supports joint health through supplying a source of sulfur to help ensure the body’s ability to synthesize collagen for connective tissue health and cell membrane flexibility.* MSM supports collagen formation.*

Glucosamine supports joint health through acting as a building block for connective tissues, as well.* It is the starting point for synthesis of glycosaminoglycans – or GAGs, which are the core of tissues like collagen and the bone matrix.*

Both support the normal thickness of the fluids that sit between and cushion the joints.*

When it comes to joint health support, comparing MSM and glucosamine on paper won’t necessarily give you all the clarity you need to make a choice.

It’s best to speak with your healthcare practitioner about which formula might fit your lifestyle. A doc might advise you to try each separately or to opt for a more comprehensive product for joint support – when the rain hits and the rest of the week.*

Want to learn more about these products? Read up on our joint support formulas here.