Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body. It is mainly responsible for maintaining the health of connective tissue and the skin’s mechanical properties. In addition, collagen is an essential component of the extracellular matrix (ECM). It is necessary for its strength, regulation, and regeneration.
Collagen makes up 65-80% of our tendons’ dry weight. It acts to protect them from high-impact stress and shear forces, maintaining the health of a tendon and reducing the risk of sports-related injuries.
Interest in therapeutic interventions to improve joint health raises due to the increasing number of long-term joint injuries and osteoarthritis associated with sports participation. Therefore, a systematic review was done to assess the effect of collagen peptide supplementation and exercise on:
- joint function
- body composition
- muscle and joint injury rehabilitation
- muscle protein synthesis
- collagen synthesis.
Collagen peptide supplementation for joint pain and recovery from joint injuries
Collagen peptide supplementation reduces joint pain and improves its functionality and range of motion. In addition, it increases the amount of time you can exercise without experiencing pain and reduces the need for alternative therapies, especially in conjunction with an exercise rehabilitation program. Collagen peptide supplementation also helps relieve joint pain during physical activity when it is not caused by degenerative joint disease. Some studies suggest that collagen supplementation effects may include acceleration of the recovery process in people with joint injuries.
Collagen peptide supplementation and body composition
The combination of collagen supplementation and resistance training programs showed moderate improvements in body composition. It decreased body fat percentage and increased the amount of fat-free mass.
Effect of collagen peptide supplementation on muscle soreness and post-exercise recovery
Some studies showed that effects of collagen peptide supplementation include improving bench press performance, enhancing recovery, and alleviating delayed-onset muscle soreness symptoms. In addition, researchers found that plasma biomarkers for muscle damage and inflammation were lower in people who take collagen peptide supplements. It, in turn, demonstrates that collagen supplementation may benefit the protective adaptation of the ‘repeated bout effect,’ thus enhancing musculoskeletal recovery. However, more studies are needed in this area.
Collagen peptide supplementation: synthesis of collagen and muscle protein
Several studies found a beneficial effect of collagen peptide supplementation enriched with vitamin C on collagen synthesis. However, depending on the collagen dosage, this effect lasted for a different period, providing crucial information about exercise timing and peptide dosage. For example, one study indicated that combining an intermittent exercise protocol and 15 g of supplement per day consumed 60 minutes before exercise will enhance collagen synthesis. In addition, it may improve tissue repair and help prevent injuries.
Vitamin C is crucial for collagen synthesis because it facilitates hydroxyproline formation and stimulates collagen cross-linking.
Practical implications: benefits of collagen peptide supplementation
Overall, collagen peptide supplementation can reduce joint pain and improve joint function, especially when combined with an exercise program. In addition, it increases pain-free exercise time and collagen synthesis. Hence, 5 g–15 g/day doses of collagen peptide supplementation, taken one hour before training for over three months, may reduce functional joint pain and improve muscle recovery. It is worth mentioning that collagen is considered to be safe for long-term use.
Notably, other sources of higher quality protein like whey protein may be more effective for muscle protein synthesis, and thus, muscle hypertrophy.
Different forms of collagen peptide supplements
Collagen is usually extracted from animal bone and cartilage. However, vegan and vegetarian collagen peptide supplements have become more widely available. They are synthesized using genetically modified bacteria and yeast. However, further researches are needed to ensure the efficacy of vegan and vegetarian collagen peptide supplements.
You can learn more about the different types of peptides and their functions by Click Here.
Khatri, M., Naughton, R.J., Clifford, T. et al. The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. Amino Acids 53, 1493–1506 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-021-03072-x