Collagen Protein & Joint Health: What You Need To Know
If you’ve ever felt a slight ache in your knees or shoulders while exercising, you’re not alone. Even day-to-day activities might cause a twinge in your joints now and then.
As you age, no matter your activity level, the depletion of your collagen production can heavily affect your joints. This is especially true for athletes. While we usually focus on exercise, injury prevention, or recovery with Frog Fuel collagen protein, collagen actually does so much more.
Almost all of your tissue and bone health relies on collagen to some degree. And, if you aren’t producing enough, your collagen gets routed to your vital organs. This means your joints lose out on vital proteins for maintenance and health.
When trying to boost your overall health and performance, collagen for joints should not be overlooked.
Why collagen for joints is so important
Collagen is the structural protein that holds you together and keeps each part of your body functioning properly.
Since collagen is derived from the skin, cartilage, tendons, and bones or animals, there is no vegan source of collagen protein. Unless of course, you count what the human body produces naturally. Unfortunately, as you age, you may not produce enough collagen for your body to maintain its peak condition.
By the time you reach age 25, your natural collagen production slows down significantly. That means many parts of your body no longer receive enough collagen to maintain their structures.
Try to think back to when you first started to notice wrinkles, achy joints, or sports injuries. All these things become more frequent due to a lack of abundance of collagen within your body.
When considering your joint health specifically, collagen makes up 70-95% of the joint structure. And, for your joints to move without immense amounts of pain, you need the structural cushioning from your cartilage.
Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and synovial fluid all help you maintain proper movement. But, cartilage is the primary protectant of your bones within the joint connection.
Choosing to implement a collagen supplement - or collagen-boosting foods - into your daily life may gradually improve your joint health. But, collagen for joints is not a magic fix-it pill. It is important to establish an ongoing dietary plan with a trusted health professional that supports your whole-body health.
So, how can collagen for joints be beneficial for you, and what are the best kinds of collagen to take?
5 benefits of collagen for joints
When used correctly, collagen supplementation can:
1. May help maintain the integrity of cartilage
When you ingest supplemental collagen, your body breaks the collagen down into amino acids. These amino acids are the main building blocks of protein in your body. The amino acids in collagen have the potential to help rebuild and maintain the cartilage that cushions your joints, improving your overall joint health.
When you regularly take collagen supplements, you provide your body with the right tools to build up and maintain cartilage. You can also eat foods high in vitamin c to help boost your natural collagen production - and provide extra joint support.
When you have a higher activity level, cartilage health is even more important to maintain. Jumping, squatting, running, and even yoga can put a lot of stress on your joints, particularly the cartilage.
When you participate in high impact activities, your cartilage absorbs most of the shock to protect your joints. Maintaining the integrity of your joint cartilage is one of the best ways to prevent joint pain during and after a workout.
2. May help your body heal faster
You are far more likely to get injured during your workouts once any aspect of your joint structure is weakened.
Introducing more collagen into your diet may help stave off an injury, and help your joints heal. Since collagen can help build up your cartilage, it not only helps prevent injury, but may also speed up the healing process if you do get injured.
While collagen’s healing ability is usually talked about in conjunction with soft tissues like skin, there is evidence to support that it helps your other tissues too.
Collagen supplementation can help your body synthesize more collagen naturally. This synthesis of collagen and additional amino acid support may help your body create new proteins to rebuild and heal ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and even bones.
3. May boost natural collagen production
Collagen supplements have the potential to boost your body’s natural synthesis of collagen.
When the right kind of collagen for joints enters your body, it attracts fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells inside of your connective tissues that produce collagen. So, when you take a collagen supplement, you get an even bigger boost of collagen from the attracted fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts are extremely beneficial when healing wounds, and can also improve overall structural components in your joints. This is especially helpful if you have a chronic injury or disorder like arthritis.
4. Reduce inflammation
One major cause of joint pain for many people is inflammation. While collagen isn’t necessarily an anti-inflammatory, it does have the potential to reduce inflammation within your joints.
An often overlooked part of your joints is the synovial membrane. The synovial membrane is the layer of connective tissue that lines your bursa, tendon sheaths, and joint cavities. This membrane includes synovial fluid that lubricates the joint to make movement comfortable.
Most joint inflammation originates at the synovial membrane, adding pressure to the joint structure and inhibiting your natural movements. This synovial membrane inflammation is commonly referred to as synovial thickening.
Collagen may be one of the best ways to reduce and prevent synovial thickening. By reducing the likelihood of synovial thickening, collagen could help decrease inflammation within your joints and reduce aches and pains during your activities.
5. Manage arthritis-related pain
Arthritis treatment is one of the most researched applications of collagen supplementation. Collagen is recommended by many medical nutrition therapists to treat arthritis because arthritis is commonly associated with loss of structure and strength within the joints.
Collagen can maintain cartilage integrity, influence new and ongoing collagen synthesis, heal injured joints, and reduce inflammation. All of these aspects can be influencers in the type and severity of arthritis pain.
Beyond those reasons, collagen can also stimulate chondrocyte cell production in your cartilage. The chondrocyte cells are present in your joints to assist with lubrication and cushioning, and make movement easier.
All of these benefits combined have the potential to reduce arthritis-related pain, making it much easier for you to manage the day-to-day activities that may cause pain.
Which collagen is best for joints?
Just because studies suggest collagen can help maintain joint health, doesn’t mean that any collagen will do the trick. You can get collagen from food, like bone broth or fish, or you can choose to use a supplement.
There are more than 20 different types of collagen. When you choose a collagen supplement to integrate into your diet, you may not be taking the best collagen for joints.
So, which type of collagen is best for joints?
The general consensus is that type 1 collagen is the most effective when targeting joint health. However, type 2 collagen can also be beneficial. Luckily, most collagen supplements don’t stick to just one type, and they often combine a few to provide a well-rounded supplementation.
Type 1 collagen focuses on promoting soft tissue health, like skin and tendons. Since tissues within your joints can be damaged, type 1 collagen is often turned to when healing an injury. However, it isn’t necessarily as beneficial for cartilage health.
Type 2 collagen is what is sourced from cartilage, and it is believed to benefit your cartilage the most. Along with protecting and strengthening your cartilage, type 2 collagen helps prevent synovial membrane thickening.
Perhaps more important than the type of collagen is the size of the collagen molecules.
When collagen is consumed in its whole form, say from an animal product like chicken, its dalton size (molecule size) is too large for your body to digest properly. This means you won’t get the full benefit of your collagen supplement.
You need to take collagen supplements that have a small enough dalton size for them to be completely bioavailable in your body.
Nano-hydrolyzed collagen is the most bioavailable type of collagen on the market today. Hydrolyzed collagen still contains all of the beneficial aspects of whole collagen - like amino acids - but it is small enough for the lining of your stomach to digest it easily.
Liquid hydrolyzed collagen protein -- like Frog Fuel Ultra -- is easy to digest to receive all the benefits of collagen for joints. It contains more than one type of collagen for a well-rounded supplement that helps both your cartilage and surrounding tissues. That makes Frog Fuel collagen protein a wonderful option for supporting the health of your joints.
Support your joints with collagen
Deciding what to include - and what not to include - in your diet for optimal health and performance can be a battlefield sometimes. It is hard to know which supplements will help and which ones are actually too good to be true.
One of the best ways to invest in your joint health is to do your research - like you are by reading this article! With research, you will be able to make informed decisions and pose targeted questions when you consult your doctor.
Before you start adding collagen to your diet, just be sure that the collagen you’ve chosen for joint health is a combination of type 1 and 2. Even more importantly, invest in a liquid collagen protein that is nano hydrolyzed.
Once you’ve found the best collagen for your joints, you will start to see noticeable results. And, you’ll be able to get back to your usual activities without the worry of pesky joint pain.