Healthy Aging

Sturdy Joints and Glowing Skin

Hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid for joint and skin health 

Collagen: the protein that holds us together.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, important for the integrity and health of our skin, hair, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It isn’t merely a metaphor to say collagen holds us together; 75 to 80% of our skin and 30% of our total body protein is made of collagen.[1]

Found in the articular cartilage that covers the ends of our bones where they come together to form joints,[2] collagen enables the joints to withstand forces of compression, thus protecting the bones from injury.[3] Our bodies have limited ability, however, to repair and replace cartilage, which is why joint integrity tends to decline with age.[4]

There are over 60 scientific studies demonstrating the effects of hydrolysated collagen (HC) on a host of ailments from joint pain and degeneration (osteoarthritis), to bone density (osteoporosis), to skin ageing. A recent review of these studies concludes that ingestion of collagen hydrolysate “helps to reduce and prevent joint pain, bone density loss and skin ageing. These results as well as its high level of tolerance and safety make HC ingestion attractive for a long-term use in bone and joint degenerative diseases and in the fight against skin ageing.”[5]

A recent review of these studies concludes that ingestion of collagen hydrolysate “helps to reduce and prevent joint pain, bone density loss and skin ageing.

In a study performed in healthy, competitive male mountain bikers and female basketball players, the athletes consumed 10 grams of HC enriched with B vitamins and magnesium daily for six months. At the end of the six months, ultrasounds were performed on the shoulders and knees of the athletes and demonstrated statistically significant increases of cartilage thickness. The control subjects, on the other hand, either had no improvements in cartilage thickness, or a decrease.[6]

In another study, 84 German athletes with an average age of 41 years consumed 10 grams of HC daily for 12 weeks. Of the athletes – all of whom had joint pain in either the knee, hip, and/or shoulder at the beginning of the trial – most reported reduced pain both at rest and during test exercises after supplementing with HC.[7]

Because it is sourced from animal collagen, the amino-acid composition of the peptides found in HC is similar to that of the collagen in the cartilage of our joints. Those peptides are well absorbed by the gut after ingestion, making their way into the bloodstream and eventually accumulating in the cartilage.[8] Preliminary evidence suggests that HC activates collagen biosynthesis in chondrocytes, the cells in the body that make cartilage.[9] Research has demonstrated these effects particularly in conditions in where the cartilage is stressed.[10]

Although eating meat – whether it’s from a chicken, cow, fish, or other animal – provides us with many amino acids, it doesn’t support connective tissue health in quite the same manner as collagen. Collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine, containing up to 20 times more glycine than meat. In addition to helping build connective tissue like tendons and muscle,[11] glycine has also been shown to support mood, sleep, and metabolism.[12] With respect to skin health, HC has further been shown to support the integrity, moisture, elasticity, and suppleness of the skin, and even decrease wrinkles and other signs of aging.[13],[14]

In order to extract collagen for at-home consumption, the bones and/or skin of an animal must be boiled for hours and the broth consumed. This can create a tasty soup base, but is also a time-consuming task that can be hard to do on a daily basis. Fortunately, collagen supplements offer us a convenient alternative to help us quickly and easily get collagen into our bodies. Furthermore, it has been shown that the collagen hydrolysate found in good quality supplements is easier to absorb than the collagen found in home-cooked preparations.[15]

Hyaluronic acid: nature’s moisturizer.

Like collagen, hyaluronic acid is found throughout the body, but is particularly abundant in the eyes, the synovial fluid found in joints, and the skin.[16] In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, hyaluronic acid plays an essential role in cushioning and lubricating the body. It is well known for its ability to bind water, drawing moisture into our tissues and keeping them hydrated.

Cartilage is comprised mainly of water, making the moisturizing effects of hyaluronic acid indispensable to joint health. Because cartilage contains no blood vessels, it has no direct supply from which to draw nutrients. Instead, the cartilage is bathed synovial fluid, which supplies the cartilage with nutrients, removes waste, and provides continuous lubrication between the layers of cartilage. Synovial health – and the hyaluronic acid replete within it – is therefore essential to joint health.[17] In addition to supporting joint health and reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis,[18] hyaluronic acid is even used in eye, tendon, and plastic surgeries, as well as in tissue engineering.[19]

Yet hyaluronic acid is perhaps best known for its use in supporting skin health. Oral supplementation of the water-absorbing nutrient has been shown to improve skin elasticity, enhance skin hydration, and significantly decrease skin roughness and wrinkle depths.[20] For this reason it’s commonly used in moisturizers and other skincare products and is known as “nature’s moisturizer.”[21]

Hyaluronic acid is perhaps best known for its use in supporting skin health. Oral supplementation of the water-absorbing nutrient has been shown to improve skin elasticity, enhance skin hydration, and significantly decrease skin roughness and wrinkle depths.

A recent review of numerous studies exploring the skin supporting and wound healing effects of hyaluronic acid concludes: “Hyaluronic acid extracts are safe and efficacious products to be used in skin repair.”[22]

When the demands of gravity, physical stress, and injury chip away at the body, we can thankfully turn to the basic connective-tissue-building-blocks found in collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the naturally derived, easy-to-absorb products in which they’re found. These are, after all, the nutrients that hold us together.

 

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