A 2018 study found that arthritis impacts 91.2 million adults in the United States.1 Over 100 different conditions cause joint pain, but the most common conditions include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are many lifestyle triggers for these conditions, but they all boil down to a loss of cartilage between bones. Because cartilage is primarily made up of a protein called collagen, regular collagen supplementation can be an effective way to fight symptoms of arthritis and joint pain.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most prevalent structural protein in our connective tissues, and is abundant in skin, bone, cartilage, and tendons. Collagen makes up about 60% of the cartilage in our joints. Cartilage helps maintain our bone health and strength by assisting the movement of joints, providing structural support, absorbing impact, and connecting our tissues. A loss of collagen through aging or injury to joints can increase risk of arthritis and other joint pain.2

How Collagen Improves Joint Pain

Due to collagen’s role in the structure and maintenance of cartilage, collagen supplementation may be a way to reduce symptoms of joint pain and arthritis. A 2013 study assessed the benefits of collagen peptide supplementation for healthy individuals who participated in strenuous exercise. Researchers found that compared to a placebo, those who took a collagen supplement had an improvement in knee extension, decreased pain during and after exercise, and were able to exercise longer before experiencing joint pain.3

A 2016 study measured the effectiveness of collagen peptides compared to a placebo or glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate (another joint health supplement) in reducing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. They found that collagen peptides were effective in reducing pain, stiffness, and improving physical function when compared to a placebo. Collagen peptides also provided greater reductions in pain and stiffness when compared to the glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate supplement.4

Where to Find Collagen?

Your body can naturally make collagen through a diet filled with foods that are rich with protein, vitamin C, zinc and copper. However, production of collagen naturally decreases as we get older due to inflammation or lifestyle factors.

Adding foods or supplements that contain collagen may be helpful to supporting the health of your joints. But, most of our food is not high in collagen. Collagen is found in the skin, tendons, and ligaments of animals. With the popularity of skinless, boneless chicken, we consume very little collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen, like Collagen 24/7, are easy and effective way to get more collagen into your diet. It can can be dissolved into water or blended into smoothies. No matter how you get your collagen it can help you support your joint health from the inside out.

Yours in Health-

Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
IVL’s Community Registered Dietitian

References

  1. Jafarzadeh SR, Felson DT. Updated Estimates Suggest a Much Higher Prevalence of Arthritis in United States Adults Than Previous Ones. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2018;70(2):185–192. doi:10.1002/art.40355
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/types.html
  3. Sophia Fox AJ, Bedi A, Rodeo SA. The basic science of articular cartilage: structure, composition, and function. Sports Health. 2009;1(6):461–468.
  4. Lugo JP, Saiyed ZM, Lau FC, et al. Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II®) for joint support: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy volunteers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):48.