Around 10 million people in the UK are living with arthritis, a joint condition that includes joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Our risk of developing arthritis increases as we age, but the condition can strike at any time.
We normally think of collagen as a wrinkle-fighter, but could it hold the key to healthy joints as well as a healthy glow?
What is collagen?
Collagen is the protein that ‘glues’ our body together – the word collagen even comes from the Greek word for glue, ‘kólla’. Collagen gives strength, structure and elasticity to our skin, bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage and blood vessels.
The body can make its own collagen from nutrients including protein, vitamin C and copper. You can find collagen in meat, bone broth and gelatine.
As we age, collagen production slows down. This is bad news for cartilage, which then becomes thinner and increasingly prone to wear and tear. The result? Osteoarthritis (OA).
But studies show collagen could help with creaky knees.
How collagen helps our joints
A joint study by Harvard Medical School and Tufts Medical Centre, Boston, followed a group of 30 OA patients for 48 weeks. Half were given a placebo and the other half collagen supplements. MRI scans showed that the collagen patients had ‘significant re-growth of damaged cartilage’ after a year.
Collagen could also help with joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the joints. Some scientists think that low-dose collagen supplements can encourage the immune system to become more tolerant of its own collagen, suppressing the inflammatory response.
American researchers found those with severe, active RA given collagen for three months experienced reduced joint pain and swelling, while four patients had a complete remission of the disease.
Handpicked content: How to tackle rheumatoid arthritis
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
Shop our Vitamins & Supplements range.