To understand why collagen is vital for healthy bones and joints, one must first understand what collagen actually is. To break it down, collagen is a protein that uniquely fits into both protein categories (structural and functional). Proteins are comprised of basic biological building blocks called amino acids, which are vital for numerous different body functions. Amino acids are particularly important, however, for joints and tendons.
Collagen's Role In Healthy Bones
Let's begin by taking a look at what bones really are. We all know that bones are basically the structural foundation of all humans, comprising the skeleton, which allows us to move properly, as well as supporting muscles, skin, etc. Scientifically speaking, however, bones are cells which are embedded into a hard intercellular material often called "The Matrix" (no, that's not a movie reference FYI). Bones are primarily formed out of mineralized substances and collagen fibers.
So collagen is, essentially, a basic building block in the formation of bones. In fact, it comprises approximately 90% of all organic bone mass, with mineralized substances only comprising around 10%. A lack of collagen can result in a loss of bone density, which can result in varying forms of arthritis. This happens naturally as we age, or can be the by-product of an immunological disease, or genetic variances.
Extensive research and studies have been done on the use of collagen peptides on bone health, particularly in arthritis suffers. These studies have shown that an oral intake of collagen peptides (10 grams) for between four and twenty-four weeks is beneficial for bone metabolism. Individuals who took these peptides orally had no known side effects, and experienced the following benefits:
-an increase in bone mass and general mineral density
-an increase in overall bone size
-bones which were generally less brittle
-bones which were shown to be healthier and stronger than previously noted before undergoing the scientific study
Collagen's Role In Healthy Joints
Everyone is aware that joints are the things which connect long lengths of solid bone structure together to allow us to move and bend freely. Common, well-known joints include the knees elbows, wrists, shoulders, and small joints in both the fingers and toes. But what are joints at a scientific level?
Scientifically speaking, joints are made up of cartilage, which is a material softer than typical bones. For an idea of what cartilage actually is, you can take a look at your ears or nose, as both are primarily comprised of it. Cartilage, at a scientific level, is a singular cell type of chondrocyte which is embedded into an extracellular matrix comprised primarily of collagen and aggrecan.
When the proper balance in the extracellular matrix of joints is disrupted, it can result in enzymes attacking the remaining collagen and aggrecan. This imbalance, which is one of the leading predecessors in arthritis and other joint-related diseases, can be incredibly painful, and result in gradual but continual loss of function.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of orally consuming collagen peptides for joint health. One study in particular, called 'the role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease,' and carried out by Moskowitz, studied the effects of oral consumption of 10 grams of these peptides daily.
This study was carried out on various populations, with individuals both with and without joint issues included. The results showed limited to no side effects associated with oral consumption of collagen peptides, and the benefits included:
-less joint pain
-better range of motion in joints (particularly in the knees)
-positive impacts on populations with arthritic diseases
-an increase in joint cartilage strength and health
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