N-Acetyl Glucosamine Supplement Overview

23 June, 2016 Posted by: ICNE

N-Acetyl Glucosamine is widely available in the form of dietary supplements to help alleviate symptoms of some diseases. It is generally a white, sweet tasting powder and is manufactured into tablets or capsules.

N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) is an amino monosaccharide with molecular formula C8H15NO6, and forms the building blocks of some carbohydrates found in nature. NAG is also a component of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans (i.e. hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulphate and keratan sulphate), which are all involved in the repair and maintenance of cartilage and joint function

Sources of NAG for use in dietary supplements

NAG monomers polymerise to form chitin. Chitin is thought to be one of the most abundant sources of carbohydrates and one of the most common sources of chitin, and therefore NAG, is crustacean shells.

Production of NAG for use in dietary supplements, can be by derivatisation of NAG from chitin. Acid hydrolysis is used to deacetylate and breakdown chitin into glucosamine. The glucosamine produced is then converted into NAG by chemical acetylation.

Therapeutic uses of NAG dietary supplements

It has been suggested that dietary supplementation of NAG may assist in a variety of ailments. For example, NAG may help to alleviate symptoms of joint damage in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cartilage damage and joint injury. It is thought that as NAG is a building block of proteoglycans, which are found within the matrix of articular cartilage, that supplementation of NAG may help rebuild damaged joint tissue.

It has also been speculated that NAG supplements may improve symptoms of irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. Inclusion of supplemented NAGs in the protective structure of the gut mucosa, may help to prevent inflammatory processes involved in these diseases.

NAGs have also been used in cosmetics in terms of rebuilding HA in the dermis to retain water in the skin, and for hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin production.

Laboratory analysis of NAGs

Here at ICNE Ltd., we use a hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) method to determine the levels of NAGs in dietary supplements. This method can be easily validated in a customer’s product. If you are interest in NAG analysis in dietary supplements, contact us today.



Chen, J., Shen, C. and Liu, C. (2010). N-Acetylglucosamine: Production and Applications. Marine Drugs, 8, 2493-2516. doi:10.3390/md8092493