My husband takes glucosamine supplements to treat gout. But I'm wondering if glucosamine, which contains shellfish, may actually worsen gout symptoms?

Answers from April Chang-Miller, M.D.

Taking glucosamine isn't likely to have any effect on gout — either good or bad.

Gout is a form of arthritis that's characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. Gout is caused by deposits of uric acid crystals in a joint. Uric acid is a waste product formed from the breakdown of purines — substances found naturally in the body and in certain foods, including shellfish and organ meats.

Typically, glucosamine is made synthetically or from the outer shells (exoskeletons) of shellfish — not from shellfish meat. Because glucosamine doesn't contain purines, it isn't likely to increase uric acid levels or aggravate gout symptoms. Likewise, there's no clinical evidence that glucosamine helps prevent or treat gout either.

Jan. 30, 2014