From arthritis to injury recovery: The benefits of collagen for joint health

In the overwhelming world of supplements, there’s one buzz word that’d been getting a workout, and that’s collagen. This article will discuss the benefits of collagen for joint health and some of the ways you can incorporate collagen into your diet.

What is collagen? What does it do for the body? Are there any benefits to taking collagen supplements? Let’s find out.

So, what is collagen?

Collagen is made up of long-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. Often referred to as the “glue” that holds our body together, collagen makes up part of our skin, bones, tendons, and even blood vessels. There are different types of collagen, each with its own specific structure and function in the body.

What foods are the best sources of collagen?

Animal products contain collagen, such as red and white meat, fish, egg whites and bone broth.

What does collagen do in the body?

One of the main functions of collagen is to provide strength and structure to our tissues. Collagen is essential for maintaining the strength and flexibility of bones, tendons, and ligaments and giving our skin elasticity. Collagen also plays an important role in wound healing and connective tissue repair.

As we get older, our collagen production naturally decreases, which explains the wrinkles, sagging skin, and annoying joint problems that seem to plague almost everyone after the age of 40!

This offers some explanation as to the current rise in popularity of collagen supplements and skincare products.

Here are some of the key roles that collagen plays:

  1. Connective tissue and joint health: As we discussed before, collagen is a major component of connective tissues, including skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It provides strength and elasticity to these tissues, helping them maintain their shape and integrity. The cartilage that cushions the ends of our bones also contains collagen and even organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and it even features in the lungs.

  2. Healthy skin: Collagen gives our skin firmness and elasticity. As collagen decreases, wrinkles and sagging skin increase.

  3. Wound Healing: Collagen is involved in the wound healing process by helping with new tissue growth. When you cut yourself or cause an injury, collagen assists in the closing of the wound.

  4. Blood Vessel Strength: Collagen is a crucial component of blood vessels, providing strength and stability to the vessel walls. It helps to prevent them from becoming weak and fragile.

Overall, collagen is essential for the maintenance and proper functioning of various tissues and organs in the body. It contributes to the strength, flexibility, and overall health of these structures, ensuring that our body functions properly.

benefits of collagen

Photo by Daniel Torobekov

What are the benefits of taking collagen supplements?

Since collagen levels in our bodies start to decline as we get older, many people take collagen supplements to replenish their supply. Scientific research conducted over several decades has shown strong evidence supporting collagen supplementation in two key areas: improving skin health and alleviating joint pain. These studies demonstrated positive outcomes when consuming significant quantities of collagen supplements, typically around 15 grams per day.

Potential Side Effects from Taking Collagen Supplements

Unlike some other supplements, there are no significant side effects from taking collagen. In fact, many people who suffer gastrointestinal upset with other forms of protein supplements can take collagen protein and feel fine. In rare cases, however, users may feel mild side effects like:

  • Rashes
  • Mild diarrhoea
  • Feeling heavy or bloated.

If you want to start using any kind of supplements, it’s best to, talk to your doctor first to ensure they are safe for you to use. With the right approach, collagen supplements may be a powerful tool in the fight against joint pain and other health problems.

Types of Collagen Supplements:

There are several varieties of collagen, but Type I accounts for about 90% of the collagen within the body. When it comes to supplements, there are both bovine and marine collagen varieties available and there is plenty of healthy debate around which one is better or if it really even matters. One fact we know is that marine collagen is more easily absorbed by the body, due to its structure, making it more bioavailable.

There is also “hydrolysed collagen” (sometimes labelled as “super collagen”), which means it has been processed in a way to make it more easily broken down and taken up by the body.

Since collagen is an animal product, it’s worth taking the time to look for collagen from a reputable source. If you’re someone who already takes an interest in where you source your meat, remember to choose a collagen supplement that comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, or wild-caught fish.

Is there a vegan collagen supplement?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any vegan sources of collagen. If you are plant-based but willing to consume a collagen supplement, you can seek out an ethically sourced brand as described above. If you’re a strict vegan, there are micronutrients you can supplement with that help support your body’s own collagen production.

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron
types of collagen

Collagen Powders:

We love supporting Aussie brands here at What’s New in Fitness, so here are a few of the homegrown brands of Collagen powder you can try:

  • True Collagen + Vitamin C:
    True’s new formula of hydrolysed collagen peptides is sourced from Australian grass-fed cows and the added Vitamin C helps with absorption and uptake. This highly soluble powder comes in a neutral flavour so can be added to a juice or smoothie. There’s also rich chocolate and fruit punch flavours if you prefer to throw it in a shaker with water.
  •  Caruso’s Total Joint Collagen
    You might have seen founder, Frank Caruso on television over the years. He is very open about his passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and now in his late sixties, he is still fit, healthy, and active. He also believes in the quality of his products enough to slap his face on every bottle!
  • Inca Wellness BioActive 100% Pure Collagen Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C
    Inca Organics is a privately owned Australian company, with manufacturing taking place in Victoria. The powder is unflavoured and sugar-free, so it can be easily mixed in with any food or drink.
  • ATP Science NoWay Juicy Collagen Protein
    Available in eight flavours plus an unflavoured option, the team at ATP obviously gets excited in the testing and tasting lab. Designed by German Scientists, ATP’s collagen peptides have a very specific role in muscle building, recovery, and repair. All of ATP’s products are manufactured in their own facility in Queensland.

Collagen Bars:

While chalky protein bars have been a staple of the sports supplement family for decades, it’s only more recently that collagen bars have been turning heads. There are a few, very different products out there too, so if you’ve been turned off the idea of protein bars in the past, you might find there’s a new offering available now that actually tastes good! Here are some of the Australian collagen bars we love:

  • ATP NOWAY Collagen Marshmallow Bars and Collagen Jelly Bars
    Since we’re already fangirling over their excessive range of collagen powders, it’s probably time to mention ATP’s collagen jelly and marshmallow bars. The Marshmallow Bars are available in Strawberry, Vanilla, and Birthday Cake flavours and consist of a whipped collagen centre, coated in a thin layer of Belgian dark chocolate. The result is a chewy, fluffy, marshmallow-ish centre (hence the name) and just enough dark chocolate that it feels like you’re having a real treat.The Jelly Bars come in Pineapple, Orange and Belgian Chocolate flavours. The flavoured collagen centre is a gummy-like texture, very reminiscent of a Fry’s Turkish Delight. The bars are covered in dark chocolate, the same as their Marshmallow cousins. They definitely taste like a treat, despite packing in 20 grams of collagen protein.
  • Chief Collagen Bars
    If you like nut butter, you should try the Chief collagen protein bars. These biscuity bars come in 6 flavours and contain grass-fed bovine collagen. 2 of the flavour varieties come coated in chocolate for that extra indulgence, but that makes the other ones heat-resistant if you want to carry them around in your bag for a few hours.
collagen jelly bars

There’s no disputing the importance of collagen’s role in our bodies and with minimal side effects, it’s one of the safest supplements you can incorporate into your diet for optimal health, especially as you get older and your own reserves of collagen decline.

As with all dietary supplements, check with your health professional beforehand, but if you get the green light to include extra collagen into your diet, there are many products available on the market.

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