Collagen is naturally present everywhere in our bodies – nails, cartilage, muscles, bones… And studies show that taking collagen for knees may even help counteract joint pain. (1)
The best part is that it could do this for a variety of people – those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even athletes. We’ll discuss all about it below, plus other things to consider before taking collagen supplements.
Here’s what we’ll cover, tap on any of these bullets to easily navigate through the content:
- 4 Benefits of collagen for knees
- Forms and dosage
- Natural sources
- Side effects
- How to buy collagen supplements?
- Other supplements
4 benefits of collagen for knee pain
- Type I. This is the most prevalent type of collagen in the body, found in bones and tendons.
- Type II. The main component of cartilage, making it a key component to the integrity of the joint.
- Type III. Mainly found alongside type I, this one is present in the bone marrow, lymphoid tissues, muscle, and blood vessels.
A lack of collagen can lead to an increased risk of joint diseases. It can also reduce the flexibility of tendons and ligaments, which in turn can make you prone to injuries. (3)
But, a safe and easy way to prevent this from happening is by taking collagen supplements. Doing this may provide the following benefits to your joints:
1) Relief from knee joint pain in osteoarthritis
Knee joints have cartilage in between the ends of the bones. This helps them glide over one another, helping you bend and straighten your knee smoothly. That cartilage also protects our bones from rubbing with each other.
But when this tissue breaks down over time, it can lead to a condition called “knee osteoarthritis.” Its symptoms include pain and swelling of varying degrees.
However, collagen supplements may help relieve the pain of this disease.
2) Improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system mistakenly attacks its own joint cells. This in turn causes pain and inflammation in the affected areas.
Now, a study on people with severe RA and collagen showed promising results. The participants who received type II collagen had an improvement in tenderness and inflammation, and no side effects were reported. (6)
Another study found that methotrexate (a common drug for RA) combined with collagen provided better results than taking it alone.
The supplement was also safe and well-tolerated, making it a viable adjunctive therapy for the long-term treatment of this disease. (7)
3) Prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women
Oral collagen supplementation may also keep bones healthy in postmenopausal women, a 2018 study shows.
In that clinical trial, the patients took 5 grams of specific collagen peptides daily, for a year.
In the end, they had an improvement in bone mineral density – which is extremely promising for this population, prone to osteoporosis. (8)
4) Reduce activity-related joint pain in athletes
Athletes are particularly prone to knee pain due to their lifestyles. It’s key to find ways to support their joint health so they can keep doing their sports, and taking a collagen supplement may be one option.
This was shown by a 24-week study. Researchers used collagen hydrolysate in athletes who had healthy joints but were at risk of pain due to their sports activities.
The results? The ones that took collagen had substantial improvements in joint pain after activity, compared to those who took the placebo. (9)
Forms and dose of collagen supplements
Collagen supplements come in capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids. The best dose will depend on the form you are taking, though:
This is the form of collagen that’s easiest for our bodies to use. It’s derived from cattle, poultry, seafood, pigs, and other animal sources. Examples of hydrolyzed collagen are:
- Collagen peptides.
- Collagen hydrolysate.
- Collagen powder.
- Hydrolyzed gelatin.
A daily dose of 2.5 grams of hydrolyzed collagen has been linked with improvements in osteoarthritis-related symptoms. Increasing the dose to 5 grams per day holds the potential to improve bone density. (10, 11)
Undenatured type II collagen
This is the least broken-down form of collagen protein. Hence it’s harder for the body to use. It’s mainly derived from chicken cartilage.
Based on a few human studies, daily supplementation of 40 mg of undenatured collagen may improve symptoms like knee joint pain. (12)
Natural sources of collagen
Foods that contain collagen include (2):
- Bone broth.
- Duck and rabbit skin.
- Fishbones, skin, and scales.
- Animal tendons, bones, and cartilage.
You can boil these tissues to make gelatin – the most basic form of collagen.
Now, vitamin C and copper can naturally boost collagen production. The first is found mostly in leafy greens and citrus foods, while you can consume the latter through organ meats or nuts. (10)
Related: Vitamins that may help knee pain.
Side effects of collagen supplementation
Collagen is generally considered to be a non-toxic and safe supplement. Side effects are mild and tend to subside on their own, such as (13):
- Felling of fullness.
- Stomach upset.
- Unpleasant taste.
Who should not take collagen supplements?
Although it’s safe for most patients, people who should avoid collagen supplements are (14):
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Patients with kidney stones.
- People with allergies to eggs, shellfish, and/or fish.
Most collagen supplements are derived from animal tissues. If you are vegan or vegetarian, look for a product labeled as “plant-based.”
What to look for in a collagen supplement?
First, try to buy hydrolyzed collagen powder. This form is the easiest one to use for the body, so you’ll be able to reap the most benefits from it.
However, keep in mind that most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. To ensure that the product is manufactured properly, look for seals of approvals from:
- U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
- NSF International.
Other supplements for knee pain
Collagen may help with pain by protecting the cartilage from further degeneration. But other supplements can also aid knee problems, such as:
This may help: Best supplements for managing knee problems.
Which is the best collagen for the knees?
Type II, hydrolyzed, preferably in powder form.
Is collagen better for joints than glucosamine?
Some research shows that collagen can be more effective than glucosamine in improving joint mobility. (15)
But, this largely depends on the person. That’s why we recommend trying each one of them for some time to find out which one’s best for you.
How long does it take for collagen to work for the knee joint?
It may take between 6 to 24 weeks of consistent intake. (16) This is extremely dependent on the person.
Conclusion: Collagen for knee joint problems
Collagen can provide relief from pain, joint stiffness, and swelling in knee arthritis.
Several foods and OTC supplements contain collagen. The dose depends upon the form of collagen, and very few side effects have been reported to date.
However, if you have a previous medical condition, it’s always best to consult your doctor first before taking any supplement.
- Viguet-Carrin, S et al. “The role of collagen in bone strength.” Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA vol. 17,3 (2006): 319-36.
- León-López, Arely et al. “Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 24,22 4031. 7 Nov. 2019.
- Eyre, D R. “The collagens of articular cartilage.” Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism vol. 21,3 Suppl 2 (1991): 2-11.
- Bakilan, Fulya et al. “Effects of Native Type II Collagen Treatment on Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Eurasian journal of medicine vol. 48,2 (2016): 95-101.
- Bello, Alfonso E, and Steffen Oesser. “Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature.”Current medical research and opinion vol. 22,11 (2006): 2221-32.
- Trentham, D E et al. “Effects of oral administration of type II collagen on rheumatoid arthritis.” Science (New York, N.Y.) vol. 261,5129 (1993): 1727-30.
- Furuzawa-Carballeda, J et al. “Polymerized-type I collagen for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Effect of intramuscular administration in a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Clinical and experimental rheumatology vol. 24,5 (2006): 514-20.
- König, Daniel et al. “Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study.”Nutrients vol. 10,1 97. 16 Jan. 2018.
- Clark, Kristine L et al. “24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain.” Current medical research and opinion vol. 24,5 (2008): 1485-96.
- Wu, Marlyn, et al. “Biochemistry, Collagen Synthesis.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 13 September 2021.
- Schauss, Alexander G et al. “Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry vol. 60,16 (2012): 4096-101.
- Lugo, James P et al. “Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II®) for joint support: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy volunteers.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 10,1 48. 24 Oct. 2013.
- Choi, Franchesca D. et al. “Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD vol. 18,1 (2019): 9-16.
- Sivalingam, Sri et al. “Dietary hydroxyproline induced calcium oxalate lithiasis and associated renal injury in the porcine model.” Journal of endourology vol. 27,12 (2013): 1493-8.
- Crowley, David C et al. “Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial.” International journal of medical sciences vol. 6,6 312-21. 9 Oct. 2009.
- Khatri, Mishti et al. “The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review.” Amino acids vol. 53,10 (2021): 1493-1506.