Here at the center for Better Bones, we try to keep up with the latest research and developments on all of our favorite nutrients. Today, we are going to report on two exciting studies on collagen!  

Collagen Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Muscle Strength 

A randomized controlled trial investigated the impacts of collagen supplementation in men with sarcopenia (low muscle mass), in combination with a 12-week resistance training program. Participants were either given 15 grams of collagen peptides per day or a placebo, and were instructed to drink the solution as soon as possible after their resistance training session, or at least within one hour.  

After 12 weeks, both groups gained muscle mass while decreasing fat mass. However, the collagen-supplemented group fared much better. The collagen-supplemented group: 

  • Had significantly more gains in muscle mass than the placebo group, 
  • Saw a more profound increase in muscle strength than the placebo group, 
  • Had a higher loss of fat mass than the placebo group. 

Reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26353786/ 

 Collagen Peptides Improve Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction  

For context, our intestinal barrier is a protective membrane that prevents toxins and undigested proteins from leaking from the gut into the bloodstream, while allowing nutrients to pass through into the blood. It is responsible for nutrient absorption, and defense against antigens and foreign organisms. In fact, almost 70% of the entire human immune system is found in our gut, making sure that unwanted foreign elements do not get into the blood. The intestinal epithelial barrier can be damaged from stress, infection, severe inflammation, or repair deficit. This damage is associated with several conditions including food allergies, celiac disease, and autoimmune diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease. 

Inflammation can induce damage to this delicate, protective intestinal barrier. Specifically, TNF-alpha, a common inflammatory cytokine, increases permeability of the intestine and can cause defects in the tight junctions that form the barrier. This can allow molecules and organisms to “leak” through the intestinal wall and stimulate a more intense immune response (commonly known as leaky gut). 

This specific study looked at the use of Alaska pollock-skin-derived collagen (fish) peptides on tight-junction (intestinal epithelial wall) permeability in the presence of inflammatory marker TNF-alpha. 

What the researchers found was that this fish collagen might well have the potential to fortify the protective intestinal barrier.  

Specifically, cells treated with fish collagen had significantly decreased intestinal barrier dysfunction when challenged with an inflammatory force (TNF-alpha) over those who were not treated with fish collagen.  

Although this study was done in a cell model, it shows promising evidence that collagen peptides may decrease inflammation-induced damage to our intestinal epithelial barrier!  

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28174772/ 

References: 

  1. Zdzieblik, D., et al. 2015. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: A randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Nutrition 114(8):1237–1245. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002810. 
  1. Chen, Qet al. 2017. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctionsFood & Function 8(3):1144–1151. doi:10.1039/c6fo01347c. 

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