You’re probably aware of collagen when it comes to skin care and aging. This is most certainly accurate, as collagen helps eliminate dark circles, repair skin, decrease fine lines, and improve elasticity. What you may not be aware of, is that collagen is also essential for healthy muscle, cartilage, tendons, bones, and ligaments.
When you lack collagen, you can become very ill. Although rare now, scurvy was a common condition during sea voyages. Since vitamin C is a precursor to collagen, many men did not get enough. In turn, multiple systems would have been affected as their teeth fell out and they began to biologically fall apart.
Due to its rich supply of amino acids, it’s commonly used today in order to build joint cartilage and is known for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. Due to these benefits, collagen has been studied for potential osteoarthritis treatment. Could you benefit from a collagen supplement?
What is Collagen?
Coming from the Greek word for glue, collagen is incredibly abundant within the human body. More specifically, collagen is a major part of human connective tissue. It makes up approximately a quarter of our body mass, found in skin, tendons, muscles, etc. In fact, it’s the most abundant protein found in the animal kingdom.
Within the human body, there are more than twenty different types, however, types I, II, and III make up around 80-90 percent. Once we reach our mid-twenties our collagen levels begin to diminish. This is why individuals in their 80s display saggy skin and wrinkles, in comparison to twenty-somethings.
Collagen is produced under the skin, within the layer known as the dermis. Our outer skin, known as the epidermis, covers this layer. Once collagen declines, this outer layer ends up sagging and displaying wrinkles. In order to enhance collagen levels for both vitality and joint support, supplements are offered.
Naturally Restoring Collagen
Collagen supplements offer a rich supply of amino acids which play a key role in creating collagen within the body. In cartilage, for instance, type II collagen is the most abundant. In order to naturally restore collagen, supplements are taken to promote healthy collagen levels. Some of the key benefits associated with supplementation include:
- Improved skin elasticity
- Reduction of dark circles
- Overall body rejuvenation
- Ability to repair skin and target inflammation
- Decreases fine lines
- Strengthens ligaments, nails, teeth, hair, and more
When found in its natural state, collagen is often composed of large molecules. For some supplements, collagen is hydrolyzed. This means that it’s been broken down into peptides so that they’re more easily absorbed. Studies have shown that these peptides are absorbed through one’s digestive system and they then find their way into targeted tissues.
These peptides act as building blocks, triggering your body’s own production of collagen. It’s been shown through research that types I and III support skin, ligament, and tendon health, whereas collagen II makes up the cartilage that cushions our joints. In the case of osteoarthritis, injury, or simple wear and tear, cartilage breaks down and causes bones to rub together.
Type II collagen naturally contains hyaluronic acid and chondroitin. Both of these substances help support healthy joints. Chondroitin specifically helps to rebuild cartilage while offering anti-inflammatory properties, whereas hyaluronic acid helps to lubricate joints.
Benefits of Collagen for Joint Pain
Although famous for its skin enhancing effects, collagen also plays a key role in joint health. Unfortunately, stiff joints are one of the side effects of aging. By taking collagen, you can potentially restore elasticity within your joints, helping to minimize symptoms based on inflammation.
Throughout various studies, it has been found that collagen supplements can be effective when trying to reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness around joints. Often used to try and target symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a collagen supplement can help enhance mobility and reduce joint pain.
Within these studies, it has been found that type II collagen is the most effective for healing joint pain. In 2002, researchers at the Creighton University Medical Center found that women who took collagen supplements experienced a significant reduction in joint pain after supplementing for 42 days. In another study conducted in 2009, researchers found that type II collagen was more effective than chondroitin and glucosamine for arthritis pain.
How Much Collagen Should I Take?
The amount of collagen you take will depend on the supplement in which you’re taking. It will also depend on the source of your collagen. Some individuals boil animal bones, however, supplements are generally the most popular route. You can find both animal-sourced and vegetarian options, so dosing requirements may vary.
With that being said, trusted sources generally recommended 400 mg capsules, taken three times daily. These capsules should be taken all at once, approximately one hour before bed. It’s also recommended that you drink a minimum of 1.5 L of water throughout the day in order to assist the benefits of collagen.
If you are suffering from chronic joint pain, type II collagen could significantly improve your health and overall well-being. Not only will it helps your joints and bones, but also fight inflammation, improving gum and skin health. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your doctor.