The scam of collagen powders to improve joints: current scientific evidence does not link the consumption of collagen supplements to the protection of your joints
The search for substances and components that help us to improve certain problems associated with advancing age is a classic in our environment. It is normal, since aging has some unpleasant events associated with it, such as joint degeneration, muscle degeneration and, ultimately, a loss of cognitive function and general functionality of the human body. Among the most popular substances are collagen powders. Which, like so many other things, are good for absolutely nothing they promise you. Much less to be eternally young.
In recent years, collagen powder dietary supplements have become one of the fetish remedies for combating any type of joint-related problem. Not only that, but they promise to help us improve skin hydration and elasticity, as well as hair health, nail strength, and also the health of our bones and muscles.
Does it make any sense to consume collagen powder supplements for that purpose? And, first of all: what the heck is collagen and what is it for?
Collagen is just another protein that makes up the human body. It is available for its structural function in nails, teeth, hair, and also in our skin. In addition, collagen is the major component in the connective tissues that make up various parts of the body, such as ligaments, muscles and tendons.
It is precisely these elements that make up our joints. Hence the belief that if we consume collagen externally, it helps to improve the condition of our joints. However, nutrition does not work that way to our misfortune.
There is no guarantee that by consuming collagen these components will end up in the joints we want to protect. Digestion does not provide such reliability or precision. When a protein is digested, it is transformed into its smallest components: amino acids. E hese are assimilated by the body and subsequently serve to generate new proteins with structural, hormonal or nutrient-transporting functions. But not at our whim, far from it.
Whether it is collagen in powder, tablet or drink form, we are dealing with the same thing: a supplement that does not do what it promises to do. However, the brands selling collagen supplements have been slipping us a good dose of tricky marketing for years. Sometimes, they allude to benefits for our skin associated with the maintenance of bone health and skin hydration.
In Europe, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has rejected health claims attributed to collagen, concluding that for the moment there is no conclusive evidence to support the benefits of collagen as a protective ingredient for our cartilage: “A cause-effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of collagen peptide mixtures (collagen hydrolysate) and the maintenance of joint health”.
However, if the supplement in question adds other micronutrients that do have approved bone, muscle or joint health claims, then the company will have gotten away with it.
Those that are commonly added in collagen dietary supplements are magnesium and vitamin C.
What does all this mean? Well, it is not collagen that improves the health of our joints, but vitamin C and magnesium.
Did you know that in 100 grams of red bell pepper we find up to 150 mg of vitamin C? Three times as much as in the same amount of orange, by the way.
The popular whole wheat bread, meanwhile, stands out as an important source for the sum of minerals and therefore magnesium. We can find up to 167 milligrams of magnesium in each 100 grams of wholemeal flour.
That is to say, we have more than covered and at our disposal several sources of vitamin C and magnesium in foods of habitual consumption, reason why we do not need to resort to supplements for such purpose.
Collagen supplements serve only one purpose: to make us throw our money away.