Collagen for Healthy Bones and Joints
- Collagen peptides have been shown to be safe and highly bioavailable. They have shown a benefit for bone metabolism and function.
- A key biomarker associated with osteoporosis and fracture risk CTX, which can be decreased by collagen supplementation.
- Collagen has been shown to support healthy knees, by reducing pain and stiffness.
- Collagen also promotes more youthful, healthy-looking skin by increasing skin elasticity and reducing the number of visible pores.
- A form of vitamin K called MK4 is an important building block for bone and promotes healthy collagen production and has been shown in studies to reduce fracture risk.
Collagen has been a cherished food since the early middle ages when visionary and Saint Hildegard of Bingen first recommended gelatin for joint pain.1 Collagen peptides are a blend of molecules created by hydrolysis of the collagen that comes from animal connective tissues. Collagen peptides have been shown to be safe and highly bioavailable.2 They have shown a benefit for bone metabolism and function.3
Today, collagen is widely consumed in foods and supplements and has been popularized as well in recipes for bone broth.
We know that collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, and a critical building block for the matrix of molecules that support cells, connective tissue, organs, and bones. It’s found in our skin, hair, and nails as well. Collagen comprises 90% of the organic matrix of bone.4 Healthy bones are made of a matrix of collagen that is hardened by calcium phosphate.
Collagen Is both Padding and Scaffold
Collagen plays a key role in joint health because it is a major component in our ligaments, cartilage, and tendons—the scaffolds, cushions, and pulleys that allow us to move our joints with ease.5 Collagen keeps cartilage healthy so the joints are cushioned. It keeps ligaments strong and flexible so they can hold joints together while letting them move easily and smoothly. Collagen helps form meniscuses, the small C-shaped structures inside a joint that act as padding.6
Healthy ligaments are critical to joint health and they actually work to create the joint space. The ligaments exhibit tensile strength, which is the kind of strength that keeps a rope from breaking when you pull on it. When you’re standing up and your body weight is pushing down on the ligaments, your joints don’t collapse because the ligaments are counteracting your body weight by pushing back up against it.7 When ligaments are healthy they can withstand the pressure of a wide range of activities, including running and jumping. But when joint ligaments begin to wear away and are damaged, they’re simply not as strong as they used to be. They aren’t as good at pushing back up and the joint space starts getting smaller. If cartilage—which covers the bones’ surfaces in a joint—is also degrading, bone can rub against bone and joint pain can develop.8
This is critical because around the world, the human population is aging. In 2009, 10% of humans were 60 years and older and by 2050 it’s estimated that 20% of the world population will be older than 60 years.9 With age comes degeneration of joints, osteoarthritis, and pain. Currently, osteoarthritis cannot be cured by mainstream medicine and the treatments offered are mostly analgesic—painkillers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, for instance.
Collagen for Bone Health
When collagen degrades, and old bone is broken down and assimilated, breakdown products are released.10 One of these is C-terminal telopeptide (CTX). It can be measured in 24-hour urine, early morning spot urine, and blood samples. One benefit of measures like CTX is that they show changes much faster than can be detected on a DEXA scan.
Research has shown how closely linked this marker is to bone strength and high levels of CTX are associated with increased fracture risk in postmenopausal women.11 A 2000 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research followed 435 women ages 31-89 years old for an average of five years. The highest urinary and serum CTX results were associated with fractures. If someone also had low bone mineral density and low levels of estrogen, their risk was even higher.12 A different study published the same year in the journal Bone found that elevated CTX is strongly associated with fractures in elderly women.13
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC) recommend the CTX blood test as a marker for prediciting bone health and bone strength.14
The great news is that a clinical trial showed that taking collagen can lower CTX, indicating that collagen helps maintain strong bones. In a study of 51 postmenopausal women, CTX was decreased by taking 5 grams of collagen peptides daily, plus 500 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D3, for three months. A control group received only calcium and vitamin D3. CTX decreased almost four times more in the women taking collagen. In the collagen group, CTX decreased 11.4% compared to 3.5% in the volunteers who only took calcium and vitamin D3.15 Given the importance of CTX, significantly decreasing this test result is an important step in doing all you can to maintain strong bones.
On the one hand, while taking collagen can support bone health, taking MK4 (45 mg/day) can promote collagen production and has been shown in clinical trials to maintain strong bones as indicated by more than 70% fewer fractures.16-19 The benefits of MK4 for bone health have been studied in 28 clinical trials with more than 7,000 volunteers.
Collagen for Healthy Knees
Research shows that supplementing with 10 grams daily collagen hydrolysate maintaining knee health. According to a review of several studies, collagen was significantly superior to egg albumin (a ‘control’ powder) in promoting kneed and hip comfort, healthy range of motion and mobility.20
One particular study mentioned in the review article found a statistically significant advantage of collagen peptides over placebo for boosting physical function of the knee. The study was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that followed 389 patients in 20 different centers for six months.
A study in China of 100 women between the age of 40 and 70, found that people taking collagen peptides had significantly healthier knee range and comfort after 6 months compared compared to placebo.21
A recent study published in 2015 provided 10 grams of bovine collagen daily for 13 weeks to 30 men and women.22 The study was a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The age range of the study volunteers was 30-65 years old. People taking the collagen experienced significant improvement of more than 60% in knee comfort, range of motion and quality of life.
Better Looking Skin
Not to be left out, your largest organ—your skin—also benefits from supplemental collagen. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial published in 2015 in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmaceutics, 60 women ages 40-60 years old supplemented with 10 grams per day of hydrolyzed collagen for 90 days. 23 At the end of the study, the collagen improved skin elasticity, reduced the number of visible pores, and increased skin collagen production.
NBI Bone and Joint Health Formulas
For bone support take Collagen plus Osteo-K or Osteo-K Minis.
For joint support take Collagen plus Joint Relief.
NBI’s Collagen dietary supplement provides 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per serving. It was specifically formulated for bone, joint, and skin health. Made from the purest collagen, NBI Collagen contains a mixture of non-GMO Types I and III collagen. It’s paleo- and keto-friendly, derived from grass-fed cows, and mixes easily. And it doesn’t contain any of the bad stuff: antibiotics-free, gluten-free, hormone-free, pesticide-free and doesn’t have any solvents. Collagen is fantastic to take alone, or get added benefit and 10% off when you purchase our Healthy Joints Bundle or Stronger Bones Bundle.
Osteo-K and Osteo-K Minis are NBI’s premier bone support dietary supplements with the dose of MK4 used in clinical trials, plus calcium and vitamin D. MK4 (45 mg/day) has been shown to grow stronger bones and reduce fractures by 70% or more in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.24,25,26
Joint Relief contains clinically validated nutrients to support joint health and healthy joint mobility and promote joint comfort. Backed by more than 25 studies, clinical trials in volunteers with arthritis confirm that Joint Relief’s nutrients promote joint health by reducing joint swelling and pain and increasing joint range of motion and pain-free activity.
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When it comes to skin damage, there are two major underlying causes. One is caused by decreased collagen production creating the typical lines and that comes with getting older. People who once felt young and vibrant feel uncomfortable when they see crow’s feet, elevens and drier, sagging skin staring back at them in the mirror. The other category of damage, which can contribute to acne, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis, is caused by chronic inflammation. In this situation, healthy cell turnover is disrupted, creating skin damage, redness and irritation. Fortunately, natural approaches that promote skin health can help.