Got Chronic Joint Pain? Meet Marine Collagen

August 02, 2021

Got Chronic Joint Pain? Meet Marine Collagen

In this article:

  • What is collagen?
  • What is marine collagen?
  • Benefits of marine collagen
  • Boswellia serrata & joint pain management
  • Supplements for healthy joints

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein. Proteins are enormous, complex biological polymers. The human body is about one-fifth protein and collagen makes up about a third of those proteins, making it our most abundant protein. It is a fibrous protein found in bones, muscle, skin, and tendons. There are many different types of collagen, but most belong to type I, type II, and type III. These different types of collagen molecules have different structures and functions.

  • Type I: skin, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Also bone and teeth.
  • Type II: cartilage; it provides structure to the nose, ears, etc, and is the "padding" between the ends of the long bones at the joints and nerves.
  • Type III: skin, muscles, and blood vessels.

Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are small molecules that always contain a nitrogen atom and provide the molecular structure of all proteins, including collagen.

Of the more than 500 naturally occurring amino acids scientists have identified, the human body uses just these twenty to make more than 100,000 unique proteins. Collagen uses nineteen of these twenty amino acids, the three most abundant of which are glycine, proline, and lysine.

Among these twenty amino acids, nine are considered "essential" because the body cannot synthesize them. Lysine is one of these, which means in order for collagen synthesis to occur a person must consume foods and beverages high in lysine. Fortunately, this is not difficult! Meat, seafood, and dairy are all high in lysine. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, don't worry, many non-animal sources of lysine exist. Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy products are high in lysine, as are many fruits and vegetables. Check out this article from Healthline: 40 sources of Lysine to Add to Your Plate.

What is Marine Collagen?

Collagen exists in all animals, but the most common form in supplements and cosmetics is bovine collagen from cows and porcine collagen from pigs. Marine collagen, on the other hand, comes from fish skin and scales. Many folks prefer marine collagen due to religious or personal reasons that prevent their use of products derived from cows or pigs.

Marine collagen is an excellent source of type I collagen, the most plentiful collagen in our bodies. It’s also a key building block for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of the skin. In fact, the cosmetic industry has long recognized the skin-enhancing benefits of collagen. The trouble is, many cosmetic brands approach collagen backwards; it’s much more effective from the inside out, not the outside in. Collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin barrier, so dietary supplements should be taken instead of using topical collagen creams.

Marine collagen also offers a source of type III collagen, which supports arterial walls, making it key for cardiovascular health. Additionally, because it is more heavily concentrated in the intestines, type III collagen is often used to promote a healthy gut. Bovine collagen also contains Type I & III collagen, so the benefits are very similar. Many people choose one over the other due to dietary preferences alone.

When it is hydrolyzed for collagen supplementation, meaning when it is broken up into smaller, bioactive collagen peptides for easier digestion, it results in smaller peptides than from other types of collagen. This means marine collagen supplements have superior bioavailability compared to other types of collagen.

Some people claim marine collagen has a ‘fishy’ after-taste. If collagen is sourced from high-quality, non-farmed, wild-caught fish, there shouldn't be a fishy taste of any kind. The quality of ingredients has a lot to do with it.

Marine collagen is:

  • Great for skin
  • A cleaner, pescatarian-friendly alternative to bovine collagen
  • More sustainable
  • High in type I and II collagen peptides
  • Highly bioavailable

Joint Pain

Sudden or traumatic events like dislocations, fractures, and sprains are a serious cause of joint pain. Chronic conditions, on the other hand, are long-term causes of joint pain. Examples of chronic joint pain would include:

  • Gout: A kind of arthritis, gout is caused by hyperuricemia, a build-up of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid forms crystals that irritate the joints. Gout tends to have flare-ups where a joint becomes hot, swollen, and painful, and tends to affect one joint more than others, commonly the big toe. Treatment for flare-ups consists of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, and steroids. Avoiding purine-rich foods, which elevate uric acid levels in the blood, like red meat, organ meat, anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna, may limit the severity of flare-ups.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa sac usually characterized as a dull, aching pain. Bursa sacs help ease rubbing and friction between bones and are common around major joints like shoulders, elbows, hips, or knees. The joint may be tender or warm to the touch, red, swollen, or more painful when moved or pressed on. Bursitis is usually temporary and can normally be treated at home with rest, ice, and an anti-inflammatory. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare provider as it may also be caused by an infection and treatable with an antibiotic.
  • Overuse injuries such as tendonitis: Tendons are thick, fibrous cords that attach the muscle to the bone, which can become inflamed from overuse resulting in tendonitis. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. Incorrect posture, excessive use of computer and mouse, or poor conditioning prior to exercising or playing sports can increase a person's risk. Doing too much too soon when the tendons aren't used to making a movement or performing a task. Tendonitis is common in "weekend warriors," people that play and exercise hard only on weekends. It also gets more common as we age. As tendons age, they tolerate less stress, are less elastic, and are easier to tear. While tendonitis can occur in any of your tendons, it's most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels. The most famous form of tendonitis is Tennis Elbow.
  • Degenerative joint and bone diseases: The most common, osteoarthritis, occurs when the protective cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Usually, the symptoms progress slowly over time. Initially, they may occur only after exercise but can become constant over time. Unlike bursitis, the pain is not very responsive to ice or rest. And it is different from most other conditions in that the affected joint does not feel hot to the touch.
  • Rheumatic disorders: Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling and joint inflammation that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It is hereditary, but is exacerbated by overuse, being overweight, and smoking. Unlike other conditions, rheumatoid arthritis usually affects many joints at once with tenderness and swelling. It is often characterized by the same symptoms on both sides of the body, such as in both hands or both knees. Moderate, gentle exercise like walking, swimming, or biking 30 minutes can provide relief.
  • Osteoporosis: A young person's body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone. In older people, the body's ability to grow new bones decreases. Osteoporosis occurs when bone growth-rate becomes slower than the rate of bone break-down. This causes bones to become weak so that even mild stresses can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, spine, or wrist. Lifestyle changes like increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D and getting appropriate exercise can mitigate symptoms. There’s no cure for osteoporosis, but proper treatment can help protect and strengthen your bones. These treatments can help slow the breakdown of bone in your body, and some treatments can spur the growth of new bone.

Benefits of Marine Collagen

Collagen is very high in the amino acid glycine, which helps the body make creatine. Creatine has been shown to help support muscle mass and exercise performance. It's also a concentrated source of proline, an antioxidant that helps reduce cellular damage that causes post-workout achiness.

Collagen also promotes bone strength. Studies suggest it increases the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals into the body. The absorption was also connected to the activity of osteoblasts, bone cells that make bone and collagen.

When added to one's diet, marine collagen may improve:

  • osteoarthritis, a common cause of joint pain
  • bone loss prevention
  • muscle mass improvement
  • skin structure preservation
  • wound healing
  • anti-aging support
  • hair and nail health

Healthy Cartilage

Joints rely on cartilage for smooth operating. A healthful diet can help the body produce collagen. Nutrients that may support collagen formation include:

  • Water: Healthy cartilage is nearly three-quarters water. In addition to functioning as the shock absorber in cartilage, it lubricates and nourishes the cartilage. Stay hydrated!
  • Supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin: Both substances are found in cartilage and are often sold in the same supplement.
  • Bone Broth: By eating foods that contain collagen, you get all the building blocks needed for making collagen. The most famous of these is bone broth. Check out: Bone Broth: How to Make It and 6 Reasons Why You Should.
  • Eat foods high in proline: Proline is one of the amino acids that make up cartilage. It is found in egg whites, cheese, soy, cabbage, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and citrus fruits. Red meat is also high in proline, but may aggravate certain conditions.
  • Collagen supplementation: Collagen powder, collagen protein, and collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) are all available over the counter or online. Collagen peptides are dietary supplements that use enzymes and hydrolysis to make the collagen more soluble and easier to digest. Dietary collagen may increase your range of motion, decrease joint pain, and support lean muscle building to strengthen the muscles around the joints!
  • Jello/Gelatin: Gelatin contains glycine, proline, lysine, and valine, all important amino acids in building healthy cartilage. Lysine and valine are essential amino acids, meaning they are not made by the human body. However, your grocery store gelatin packets are not as pure or healthful as an unflavored gelatin supplement. The kids don't have to have all the fun! In fact, check out this article 36 Old-School Jell-O Recipes for some ideas for grown-ups.

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia is a herbal extract from the Boswellia Serrata tree. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Because Boswellia is an effective anti-inflammatory, it may prevent the loss of cartilage. They block an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) which breaks down polyunsaturated fatty acids in foods into leukotrienes, inflammatory molecules that attack joints and other tissues. Boswellia may also help reduce cartilage damage in arthritis.

Many clinical studies of Boswellia’s effect on osteoarthritis have found it is effective in treating joint pain and inflammation. In a randomized, controlled trial published in the journal Phytomedicine, Efficacy and Tolerability of Boswellia Serrata Extract in Treatment of Osteoarthritis of Knee, found that Boswellia extract possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic properties. It found that all participants with osteoarthritis who received Boswellia reported a decrease in knee pain compared to those who received a placebo. They also reported an increase in knee flexion and how far they could walk.

According to The Arthritis Foundation's Supplement and Herb Guide, a 2014 Cochrane Review found that a three-month course of Boswellia reduced osteoarthritis pain by nearly 20 points and improved function by eight points (on 100-point scales) without serious side effects. In a 2018 systematic review of 20 OA supplements, Boswellia extract was among the standouts, providing significant short-term relief for knee, hip, and hand pain. The Natural and Alternative Treatments database, which contains over 12,000 clinical studies, also gives Boswellia high marks for OA pain relief.  

General dosing guidelines suggest taking 300–500 mg daily. The Arthritis Foundation suggests 300–400 mg three times per day of a product that contains 60 percent boswellic acids.

However, Boswellia extract may also interact with and/or decrease medications, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), so consult your healthcare provider before taking it. Other possible side effects of Boswellia include nausea, acid reflux, diarrhoea, or skin rashes.

Supplements

After water, collagen is the most plentiful substance in our bodies. The body’s own natural collagen production declines by 1.5% per year after our 20s. This means by the time we enter our 40s, we are actually producing about 25% less collagen. This decline in collagen production can contribute to many of the symptoms we associate with aging, including achy joints.

Luckily, dietary supplements with collagen can help relieve joint discomfort. Marine collagen, and some of the amino acids it provides, can contribute to improving skin elasticity, reducing inflammation, improving the quality of sleep, and regenerating cartilage.

Amandean has several options for collagen, including Premium Marine Collagen, which is sustainably sourced from wild-caught cod fish from the pristine waters of the North Atlantic.

It supports healthy joints and bones; helps build thick hair, strong nails, and smooth, radiant skin; helps build lean muscle; boost energy; and decrease post-physical activity recovery time. It is an easy-to-mix, pure collagen protein ideal for Keto, Paleo, and Pescatarian recipes.

Supplements with Boswellia are readily available online, including Amandean Boswellia Extract. This dietary supplement is an effective inflammation supplement that has been used in traditional practices for thousands of years. It helps to speed up wound healing and recovery from infection. Most importantly to those with arthritis, it is potentially an alternative to NSAIDS and other prescription pain relievers. It provides pain relief from discomfort associated with chronic inflammatory conditions, back pain, knee pain, and general joint pain.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

We can't say it enough: joint pain tends to be exacerbated by excess weight. For each ten pounds of extra bodyweight, thirty pounds of extra force are exerted on your knees. Gentle exercise helps keep the tendons and tissues supple and strengthens the muscles surrounding a joint. But exercise also is helpful in maintaining one's weight. Speak with your healthcare provider about what exercises would be suitable and at what intensity level. A personal trainer can also help you develop an appropriate exercise regimen.

Dynamic Duo

For more information about the potent combination of Boswellia and marine collagen, see our blog Dynamic Duos: Ease Arthritis with Collagen and Boswellia.

Summary Points

  • The human body is about one-fifth protein and collagen makes up about a third of those proteins, making it our most abundant protein
  • Marine collagen is an excellent source of type I collagen, the most plentiful collagen in our bodies
  • Marine collagen is a concentrated source of proline, an antioxidant that helps reduce cellular damage that causes post-workout achiness
  • Dietary collagen may increase your range of motion, decrease joint pain, and support lean muscle building to strengthen the muscles around the joints
  • Because Boswellia is an effective anti-inflammatory supplement, it may prevent the loss of cartilage




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