Basics For A Healthy Body Extend To A Healthy Immune System, Collagen: The Ins and Outs of Supplements

Collagen: The Ins and Outs of Supplements

Supplementation of building blocks not a quick fix, but a long-term solution

About Scott V. Watkins, MD 

The primary form of collagen for supplementation is hydrolyzed into smaller,  bioactive fragments that are easily absorbed in the digestive system.

Supplementation with this structural protein, which is described in detail in Part 1 of this series in our Learning Centre, has mainly been studied in relation to joint and bone health.

Supplementation also supports the following roles:

  • Regulates tendon and bone turnover.
  • Inhibits bone collagen breakdown.
  • Alleviates painful symptoms associated with degenerative joint disease (DJD)
  • Felt to be a safe, therapeutic supplement to help manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

The “mechano-transduction” hypothesis proposes that the mechanical loading of tendons during exercise causes a signal cascade that increases the production of matrix proteins (such as collagen).

A paper published in September 2021 in the journal Amino Acids reviewed numerous trials reporting on the effects of collagen supplementation (with and without exercise) on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise. We will detail those findings in the next several articles.

Effects of Collagen Supplementation on Joint Function & Recovery from Joint Injury

All five of the studies reviewed in this section reported benefits from collagen supplementation in the following ways:

  • Reducing joint pain.
  • Improving joint function.
  • Increasing the duration of pain-free strenuous exercise.
  • Reducing the need for alternative therapies (such as pain medications).

Taking collagen supplements one hour before working out seems to be most beneficial for pain-free exercise.

The majority of the trials show there’s more benefit if you take supplements for longer than 3 months. This makes perfect sense. Supplementation of building blocks is not an immediate fix to a problem, but a long-term solution.

The studies also indicate these benefits are enhanced when collagen supplementation and rehabilitative exercise are done at the same time.

Supplementation appears to specifically enhance Types I, II, and IV collagen, as well as proteoglycan and elastin synthesis. Together, these can reduce tissue damage and pain. Glycine, a component amino acid of collagen, can also inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines.

As you can see, there is much more to collagen supplementation than you might think.

We will continue to discuss and explore the topic in the next article.

Related Posts