What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about a third of the body’s protein content. It’s one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth. You can think of it as the “glue” that holds all these things together. In fact, the word comes from the Greek word “kólla,” which means glue.
The Role of Collagen in Joint Health
Collagen and Your Joints
Collagen plays a vital role in the health of our joints. It helps to maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. As the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you get older, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases.
Collagen for Osteoarthritis
Several studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall. In one study, 73 athletes who consumed 10g of collagen daily for 24 weeks experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest, compared to a group that did not take the collagen (source).
How to Use Collagen for Joint Health
Collagen supplements are the most direct way to increase your collagen intake. They are typically made from the bones and skin of cows, or from fish. They are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, and liquids. It’s important to note that not all collagen supplements are created equal. Some brands may contain additives or be sourced from animals raised on factory farms. Always opt for a high-quality, ethically-sourced supplement.
Another way to boost your collagen levels is to consume collagen-rich foods. Bone broth is a particularly good source of collagen, and it’s also packed with other nutrients that support joint health, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Other collagen-rich foods include chicken skin, fish skin, and pork skin.
The Bottom Line
Collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your joints. Whether through supplements or collagen-rich foods, increasing your collagen intake could help keep your joints healthy and pain-free. As always, it’s important to discuss any dietary changes or supplements with your healthcare provider.