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Benefits of Collagen Supplements for Joint and Bone Health

Read more to learn how Vital Proteins' Collagen Peptides support joint and bone health.

Joint & Bone Health

As the population ages, the drawbacks of aging are becoming more apparent.  Osteoarthritis and osteopenia, two of the major health concerns, are among the leading causes of pain and disability.


Bones, which make up the skeleton are composed of cells embedded in hard intercellular material (the matrix) made of mineralized substances and collagen fibers. Like all body tissues, bones are in a continuous state of flux. The mechanical integrity of the skeleton and the maintenance of appropriate mineral levels depend on a dynamic process called bone remodeling or bone turnover.

Skeletal mass increases progressively during growth. The age at which bone loss starts is uncertain but, it is generally believed to be during the thirties in both sexes. Approximately 15% of bone in healthy adults is replaced by bone turnover each year. Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and releases the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from the bone to the blood. Irregular rates of bone resorption and formation – leading to more bone loss than formation – are a hallmark to osteopenia.

Osteopenia describes individuals who have a low bone mass and some increased risk of fracture.  Their bone mass is not so low that they are deemed to have osteoporosis. It has been demonstrated that an early diagnosis and treatment of osteopenia reduces fracture rates and improves quality of life. [1]

Bone Health

Several studies on collagen, which represents 90% of organic bone mass, suggest that orally administering collagen peptides may provide beneficial effects on bone metabolism, especially in the calcium-deficient condition such as osteopenia, without obvious undesirable effects. Several studies show that a daily intake of 10g of collagen peptides for 4 to 24 weeks may increase bone mass density. [2], [3]

Researchers have produced several keys for understanding how collagen peptides work. They have also shown that the extra-cellular matrix in which cells grow is decisive in their differentiation. Studies have demonstrated that when collagen peptides metabolites are present in this matrix, osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, are preferentially stimulated, instead of osteoclasts, the cells involved in bone resorption, this triggers bone formation. [4], [5], [6]

Collagen Peptides may be effective on bone metabolism by inducing differentiation and maturation of osteoblast and stimulating their activity.[7]  Bone turnover is thus modulated, preventing bone resorption during the natural phenomenon of bone loss (osteopenia) and increasing bone solidity.

Studies have demonstrated the benefits of collagen peptides on joint and bone health. In those studies, Collagen Peptides may have been shown to support bone health through increased bone and mineral density, increased bone size, less brittle bones, and the stimulation of osteoblast activity in spite of osteoclasts activity (stimulating bone growth).


Cartilage consists of a single cell type, chondrocytes embedded in extracellular matrix made up of two major components: type II collagen which imparts tensile strength to the tissue and aggrecan that provides the ability of cartilage to resist compressive force. Orchestrated synthesis and turnover ensures and maintains the biochemical characteristic of the cartilage.

During osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, this regulation is disrupted by the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules that provides the stimulus for the synthesis of matrix-degrading enzymes. These enzymes degrade aggrecan and collagen, resulting in the loss of cartilage and function.

This chronic degeneration of the joints is already considered by the World Health Organization as one of the most disabling diseases in developed countries. For those who are affected, the consequences are important because 80% have limitations in movement, and 25% cannot perform their major daily activities of life. All joints can be affected, although it occurs more often on knee and hip joints and in the vertebral column. In advanced stages it is extremely painful. Osteoarthritis is usually due to the aging process, but osteoarthritis due to external factors has also been reported, for example in people whose activities involve joint stress, such as sports activities or even at work. Severe overweight can also cause osteoarthritis.

The beneficial effects of collagen peptides have been reported in numerous research findings.  The clinical study conducted by Moskowitz [8], performed on various populations for a period ranging from 30 to 90 days, demonstrated a positive effect on knee joint comfort with a dose of 10g of collagen peptides per day. The effect was even more pronounced in patients suffering more severe symptoms.

Another more recent study assessed the efficiency of collagen peptides in a randomized, double blind, controlled multicenter trial, in which 250 subjects with primary osteoarthritis of the knee were given 10g of collagen peptides daily. The results showed a significant improvement in knee joint comfort, and again subjects with the greatest joint deterioration benefited most. [9]

Research on the effectiveness of collagen peptides in athletes with activity-related joint pain has also been performed. In a 24-week study conducted in 2008, 147 subjects who compete as part of a varsity team or club sport were recruited and randomly assigned to two groups: one group received a liquid with 10g of collagen peptides, and the other received a placebo. Six parameters showed statistically siginficant changes with the dietary supplement collagen hydrolysate as compared with the placebo. The results of this study have implications for the use of collagen hydrolysate to support joint health and possibly reduce the risk of joint deterioration in a high-risk group. Despite the study's size and limitations, the results suggest that athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters that have a negative impact on athletic performance. [10]

[1]   Karaguzel, G., Holick, M. 2010. Diagnosis and treatment of osteopenia. Rev Endocr Metab Disord, 11: 237-251.

[2]   Nomura, Y., Oohashi, K., Watanabe, M. and Kasugai, S. 2005. Increase in bone mineral density through oral administration of shark gelatine to ovariectomized rats. Nutrition, 21:1120-1126.

[3]   Wu, J., Fujioka, M., Sugimoto, K., Mu, G. and Ishimi, Y. 2004. Assessment of effectiveness of oral administration of collagen peptide on bone metabolism in growing and mature rats. Journal of bone and mineral metabolism, 22: 547-553.

[5]>   Andrianarivo, A.G., Robinson, J.A., Mann, K.G. and Tracy R.P. 1992. Growth on type I collagen promotes expression of the osteoblastic phenotype in human osteosarcoma MG-63 cells. Journal of cellular physiology, 153: 256-265.

[7]   Guillerminet, F., Beaupied, H., Fabien-Soulé, V., Tomé, D., Benhamou, C-L., Blachier, F., Roux, C. and Blais, A. 2010. Collagen peptides improves bone metabolism and biomechanical parameters in ovariectomized mice: an in vitro and in vivo study. Bone.

[8]   Moskowitz, R. 2000. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism, 30 (2): 87-99.

[9]   Ruiz-Benito, P., Camacho-Zambrano, M.M., Carrillo-Arcentales, J.N., Mestanza-Peralta, M.A., Vallejo-Flores, C.A., Vargas-Lopez, S.V., Villacis-Tamayo, R.A. and Zurita-Gavilanes, L.A. 2009. A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 12:1-15.

[10]   Clark, K.L., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K.R., Aukermann, D.F., Meza, F., Millard, R.L., Deitch, J.R., Sherbondy, P.S. and Albert, A.. 2008. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current medical research and opinion, 24 (5): 1485-1496.

[11]   Oesser, S., Adam, M., Babel, W. and Seifert, J. 1999. Oral administration of 14C labelled gelatine hydrolysate leads to an accumulation of radioactivity in cartilage of mice (C57/BL). Journal of nutrition, 129: 1891-1895.

[12]   Oesser, S. and Seifert, J. 2003. Stimulation of type II collagen biosynthesis and secretion in bovine chondrocytes cultured with degraded collagen. Cell tissue research, 311: 393-399.

[13]   Pasco, J.A, Seeman, E., Henry M.J, Merriman, E.N, Nicholson, G.C, Kotowicz, M.A. 2006. The population burden of fractures originates in women with osteopenia, not osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Int, 17: 1404-1409.