Can Collagen Repair Joints and Reduce Arthritis?

Can Collagen Repair Joints and Reduce Arthritis?

Collagen is the most common protein found in the human body, making up 30% of all proteins in our organs and muscles. Furthermore, our skin, cartilage, tendons, connective tissues, bones, and organs all contain collagen. 

Over the past few years, hydrolyzed collagen has become one of the most talked-about supplements, and collagen is even starting to show up in some coffee and hot beverage recipes. But what are the effects of hydrolyzed collagen, and what does this supplement do?

7 Potential Benefits of Collagen

  1. Reduces Joint Pain
  2. Improves Mobility
  3. Improves Joint Strength
  4. Strengthens Cartilage
  5. Helps Reduce Tension
  6. Improves Skin Quality 
  7. Contains Antioxidant Properties

Hydrolyzed collagen comes from bovine cartilage and bone. The production process involves crushing bones and cartilage, which are then ground and defatted and soaked in acid to deplete the bones and cartilage of their calcium content.

Next, the bones and cartilage are soaked again in acid to break up the collagen bonds. Once this step is complete, the bones and cartilage are dehydrated and made into powder. This way, the powder can be dissolved in cold liquids, making hydrolyzed collagen easy to digest.

Collagen for Joint Pain and Mobility

A loss of collagen can sometimes cause joint pain; therefore, supplementing with collagen may help relieve achy, painful joints. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that hydrolyzed collagen can boost joint strength and reduce pain caused by health conditions such as osteoarthritis. 

There are, however, other ways to increase your collagen intake besides taking hydrolyzed collagen. Meat contains collagen, and the body can process collagen from meat with ease. One study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that when several people who experienced joint pain increased the amount of meat in their diet, their joint pain improved in response.

The body’s cartilage (the rubberlike tissue protecting your joints), which wears down when a person has osteoarthritis, maintains its integrity with the help of collagen. The amount of collagen in the body decreases with age, which means that the chance of developing degenerative joint disorders, like osteoarthritis, increases as we get older.

Several studies claim that collagen supplements can improve day-to-day symptoms of osteoarthritis and help reduce joint pain. One study conducted by Penn State University monitored a total of 73 athletes who consumed 10 grams of collagen once a day for 24-weeks.

The study discovered that the athletes experienced a profound decrease in joint pain compared to the athletes who didn’t take collagen supplements. Another research study by AIBMR Life Sciences gave a group of adults 2 grams of collagen per day for 70-days. 

After 70-days, participants reported a significant decrease in joint pain and found it easier to take part in physical activity compared to participants who were collagen-free.

Researchers at the University of Illinois College of Medicine suggest that supplementing with collagen may stimulate further collagen production after collagen accumulates in our cartilage. This extra collagen can lead to better joint support, lower inflammation, and a reduction in joint pain.

The researchers also discovered that subjects experiencing joint pain (with no history of arthritis) reported improved knee range of motion, a delay in joint pain during exercise, and faster recovery after supplementing with 40 mg of collagen per day for four months.

These benefits occurred three months after beginning supplementation and maintenance with collagen. This study, however, failed to report any influence on daily joint pain.

Another study in the International Journal of Medical Sciences showed that four out of five people who experienced osteoarthritis and took 40 mg of undenatured type II collagen per day reported a reduction in joint pain by as much as 26% on average.

Collagen and Muscle Mass

You can build muscle with collagen as long as you combine collagen with a healthy diet and exercise. One excellent way to develop and maintain lean muscle mass is a high-protein diet.

A high-protein diet is a great appetite suppressant, making it that much harder to cheat on your diet. Since collagen is a protein, it improves your total protein intake. One study by the University of Freiburg showed that collagen helps maintain muscle mass, and is most beneficial for older people. 

One negative aspect of collagen, however, is that collagen (like gelatin) is not high in leucine, the primary amino acid that promotes muscle growth. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to rely on collagen supplements if you’re trying to build muscle.

Safety and Side Effects

A small percentage of people have reported a lingering bad taste in the mouth after consuming collagen. Collagen supplements may also cause heartburn and other digestive problems, such as feeling too full. Regardless of these potential side effects, collagen appears to be safe for most people to consume on a regular basis.

Studies show that the best collagen dose for joint pain relief is 8–12 grams of collagen per day.

Effectiveness of Collagen

Collagen shows promising results for improving joint pain and skin health. However, when it comes to taking collagen, it’s important to consider your goals. If you want to treat conditions such as hair loss, brittle nails, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal disorders, and heart disease, there’s no evidence to suggest that collagen will help you.

However, if you want to repair your skin, decrease wrinkles, reduce stiffness, decrease joint pain, and slow muscular degeneration, then collagen may be for you.