Collagen for Joint Pain

  • Nature's Source

Collagen is a fibrous glycoprotein, the most abundant protein in the human body. It provides the form of a strong frame, the ‘glue’ that that holds us together.  It is what makes for supple and elastic skin. Collagen production slows with aging and is expressed as wrinkled and sagging skin, decreased cartilage manifesting as ‘skeleton legs’. Collagen degradation and its symptoms can be addressed by judicious supplementation of collagen rich foods and the use of products that contain them. Clinical and scientific evidence suggest that by such means bone pain can be reduced. Significantly.

Collagen degradation comes from the fact that we do not eat products that contain a lot of it any more, so we develop deficiencies in some of the proteins that make it. Foods with high collagen levels were stocks made with joints and bones and tripe and chitterlings, brawn and other things that we used to eat. We do not renew our collagen any more, and this causes serious deficiencies and degeneration in some of our organs, in particular those that work all the time: tendons and cartilage in our joints and vertebrae, for example.

A degeneration in tendons affects body processes at a number of joints: knees, hips and inter-vertebral cartilage in our spine, causing a problem that affects many people. Joint disease (osteoarthritis) is the most common chronic problem above age 50. We use anti-inflammatories and analgesics to calm the pain, but this has no effect on the progressive nature of these problems.

Taking collagen long term will provide the constituent elements needed for the body to repair cartilage and tendons and to truly improve these problems.

Many clinical studies have been done on hundreds of patients all over the world show the value of consuming collagen to improve osteoarthritis problems and rheumatic pain that arise from degeneration in joint cartilage. They all showed it was highly effective for pain reduction, decreased analgesic consumption, improved joint use and much better feeling of joint comfort. For example:

Researchers at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found that supplementing with type 2 collagen helped patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis find relief from painful symptoms by decreasing swelling in tender joints  Another study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found that people with osteoarthritis joint pain treated with type 2 collagen show significant enhancements in daily activities, such as walking up stairs, ascending or sleeping, and a general improvement in their quality of life.

There are 16 different configurations of collagen identified by Type.

Type 1 is the most abundant. It is the strongest form, made up of eosinophilic fibres that make up tendons, ligaments, organs and skin. Type 1 collagen helps form bones, gives skin its elasticity and is important for wound healing.

Type 2 collagen primarily builds cartilage and connective tissue. Joint health is dependent on Type 2 as its degradation is experienced as joint pain and arthritis symptoms. 

Type 3 collagen is a major component of the extracellular matrix and forms heart blood vessels and tissue. Type 10 collagen helps build new bones and articular cartilage. These, and the minor collagens can be various found in foods or dietary supplements.

Collagen supplements are taken in one of two different forms, either in the form of hydrolyzed collagen or in the form of an undenatured type II collagen; both forms have different dosing strategies and while their benefits may share some similarities can be considered two different supplements.

Hydrolyzed collagen is taken in doses of around 10g a day for skin health and some benefits to joints, and can be taken with meals. Undenatured collagen is taken at a lower dose of approximately 40mg once daily for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis when there is an autoimmune component to it.

The sources of collagen as food or supplement is as follows:

Bovine (cow or beef) collagen: Bovine collagen comes from cows, specifically from their skin, bones and muscles. It’s made of mostly types 1 and 3 collagen. 

Chicken collagen: The type of collagen most abundant in chicken collagen is type 2, which is best for building cartilage. This makes it beneficial for joint health, especially since this source also provides chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate — both of which have anti-aging effects. Most supplements containing collagen usually use chicken collagen and provide type 2.

Fish collagen: Collagen derived from fish has been found to be easily absorbed and provide mostly type 1 collagen, with the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Because type 1 can be found throughout the entire body, consuming more fish collagen has been associated with benefits for the joints, skin, vital organs, blood vessels, digestion and bones. 

Egg shell membrane collagen: Egg collagen, found in the shells and whites of eggs, contains mostly type 1 collagen. It also has type 3, 4 and 10. It provides glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid  and various amino acids that have benefits for building connective tissue, wound healing, building muscle mass and reducing pain/stiffness.