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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Study Spotlight: Is it Possible to Rebuild Collagen?

By: Andrew Jagim

Collagen makes of the majority of various connective tissues throughout the body (i.e. cartilage, tendons etc.) and therefore plays an integral role in the proper functioning of our musculoskeletal system. Unfortunately, these tissues take a lot of beating throughout different sports and activities that people participate in throughout their life. In addition, these tissues are also suceseptible to injuries and are rather limited in their ability to heal themselves.   

This presents a problem to anyone who is moving into their prime when it comes to training or others who have a lot of wear and tear on their joints due to the demand they impose (i.e. powerlifters, any athlete, runners).  While re-building muscle is something that can be done with relative "ease" collagen is far from it and degradations in it can lead to unfortunate surgeries such as replacements later in life.

As a result, a lot of practitioners look for ways to improve the integrity of these tissues through different training, therapeutic and nutritional strategies.  Recently, researchers published a study examining the influence of a supplement strategy on rates of collagen synthesis.

What did they do?
Researchers designed an experiment to evaluate the effect of a Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplement before intermittent activity on rates of collagen synthesis.  The study included 8 healthy males who completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design so they received both a placebo and supplement (5 or 15 g of vitamin C-enriched gelatin ) treatment.  Subjects consumed the drink and donated blood samples every 30 min to determine amino acid content within the blood. One hour after the ingestion of the supplement (or placebo) the subjects completed 6 min of rope-skipping to stimulate collagen synthesis. This protocol was continued 3 times per day with >6 hs between exercise bouts over the course of 3-days.  Blood was also drawn before and 4, 24, 48, and 72 hrs after the first exercise bout for the determination rates of collagen formation.

What did they find?
The supplement which contained the highest amounts of gelatin (15 g) resulted in the biggest (x2 fold!) increase in markers of collagen synthesis following the bouts of intermittent exercise; peaking at 1 hr post.  Further after 6 days of treatment, when the subjects consumed gelatin, this appeared to lead to the greatest increase in collagen content and improved mechanics.

Take Home Message:
The results of the study suggest that adding gelatin to a pre-workout supplement/nutrition regimen may help facilitate collagen synthesis following activity.  This may be particularly beneficial for individuals returning from a connective tissue-related injury and/or populations who struggle with arthritis and joint pain during activity as an increase in collagen content could help improve the integrity of said tissues.

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