Collagen is a protein. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in the body making up a third of our body’s protein content.
All proteins are made out of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Collagen consists of the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine.
Collagen is the main constituent of bone mass and connective tissue, providing structure to bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, skin and many other structures.
Collagen and bone health
The primary function of bones is to resist mechanical forces and fractures. To be able to do this, bone tissue must be very strong and hard. As such, the structure of the bone tissue is key.
Bone tissue is comprised of proteins and minerals. When bone tissue is formed, a complex protein matrix – made up of 90% collagen – forms the lining of the bone tissue. At this stage, the matrix is still flexible.
As the minerals (mainly calcium and phosphate) deposit onto the matrix, the structure becomes hard and rigid. It is therefore clear to see that collagen plays an immensely important role in the structure and functionality of bone tissue.
Collagen and cartilage
Cartilage is an elastic tissue that acts as a cushion, covering and protecting the ends of long bones against friction at the joints.
The biological and mechanical properties of cartilage depend primarily on the composition of its extracellular matrix (ECM), which consists of the macromolecules collagen and proteoglycans.
Chondrocytes are the cells that produce these macromolecules and therefore maintain the ECM. Chondrocytes can be stimulated to produce these macromolecules depending on demand and stimulus.
A steady production of collagen by the chondrocytes is important to maintain the integrity and functionality of the cartilage. If cartilage were to wear away, joint pain and even arthritis can follow.
Collagen supplement benefits
With ageing and stress, the body starts to produce less collagen. This can lead to a loss in bone mass and bone density as well as cartilage degeneration.
Therefore, loss in collagen production may lead to a loss in joint flexibility causing joint stiffness, immobility or pain as well as weak bones.
Many studies have investigated the effect of collagen supplementation on health, including bone and joint health. These studies have shown that consuming hydrolyzed collagen (collagen that has been broken down into smaller fragments or peptides) stimulated chondrocytes to increase collagen production, improving the strength and integrity of the cartilage. Collagen supplementation also proved chondro-protective and increased the cartilage area.
Supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen has also shown to promote the growth and proliferation of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for forming new bone tissue. Therefore, collagen supplementation may improve bone mineralization and protect the bones from degeneration.
Studies have also found that supplementing the diet with collagen in individuals with osteoarthritis improved joint comfort.
Others have studied the benefit of collagen supplementation to improve joint health in athletes. These studies found a reduction in resting and active joint pain, improvement in Achilles tendinopathy patients and improved ankle stability.
Individuals who took collagen supplements while partaking in resistance exercise have also shown an increase in muscle mass compared to the placebo group.
A comprehensive collagen solution
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and forms part of many structures including bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. To ensure the health of these structures, we need to improve and maintain collagen production that may be reduced due to age or environmental factors.
FUTURELIFE® REPAIR FOOD™ contains 10g of Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides, key nutrients including vitamins and minerals and is high in protein.
This specialised formulation may assist in preventing the degeneration of cartilage, joint mobility and the reduction of joint stiffness, the maintenance of bone strength and building and repairing of muscles.