Can Marine Collagen Improve Joint Health?

Many people are looking for natural alternatives to relieve arthritis-related joint pain and discomfort. Could marine collagen be the answer?

Joint pain and discomfort is one of the most frequent symptoms experienced by older people – most commonly due to joint destruction related to osteoarthritis. Some people turn to anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the pain and discomfort. These medications are often effective, but they can have serious side effects including an increased risk of heart attack and kidney problems with prolonged use. Natural alternatives are needed for joint pain that are effective with fewer side effects. An increasingly popular alternative in Japan is the use of marine collagen for better joints. Is marine collagen an effective alternative for joint health?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the protein that gives structure and support to tissues in the body including the ligaments, tendons, and skin. The surface of joints is covered with a layer of cartilage to cushion and protect it and collagen is an important part of this protective layer. As a person ages, the cartilage is gradually worn away which can lead to the joint pain and inflammation so commonly seen with arthritis. Some experts believe that by replacing the collagen with supplements, the cartilage can be restored.

What is It?

Marine collagen comes from the scales of fish and is currently used in Japan as a supplement for joint health. It’s sometimes combined with other supplements believed to be important for joint health such as glucosamine and chondroitin. According to a report on Food Navigator, marine collagen comes primarily from deep water fish found in unpolluted areas and is believed to be a safe source of collagen. Manufacturers of marine collagen emphasize that it may have additional benefits for the skin too since collagen helps to keep skin taut and wrinkle free.

Does It Work?

A 2003 British study showed that when cartilage producing cells were exposed to hydrolysed collagen in tissue culture, it stimulated them to produce collagen; but there have been few studies done in humans. Unfortunately, what happens in tissue culture can sometimes be completely different from what occurs in the human body. One small study conducted on 300 patients with osteoarthritis found that hydrolysed collagen did increase joint mobility and reduce pain, but more human studies are needed.

The Bottom Line?

Some online sites sell marine collagen for joint health, but there’s too little evidence at this point to recommend its use. Keep your eyes open for further studies, but don’t waste your money at this point.  

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