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Updated on April 28, 2023
Collagen Can Strengthen Your Bones. Here's the Age You Really Need It
Do your hips feel like they’re made of concrete when you get out of the car after a long road trip? Do your knees crack everytime you squat down to hug your grandkids? Does your daily schedule revolve around how your back feels?
If you’re thinking, “This is just what happens when you get old,” think again.
As you age, your body begins to produce less collagen, which completely alters joint function, mobility, and bone health.
But you don’t have to be in pain. You can—with the right dose of a high-quality collagen supplement—wipe away that frustrating, bone-on-bone pain for good.
In this article, you’ll learn what collagen is, how it supports bone and joint health, and which supplement is best for eliminating brittle bones, achy joints, and deteriorating cartilage.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant (and arguably the most important) protein in your body (1). It serves as the building block for your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, and more.
Collagen gives your skin its full and youthful look. It keeps your ligaments (the rubbery material in between your joints) intact and flexible. And it prevents bone loss by protecting the integrity of your bones.
Why Collagen Declines In Your Bones
When collagen decreases, your body doesn’t look or feel like it used to. Wrinkles emerge, bones creak, joints hurt, and hair thins.
You’re born with ample amounts of collagen (that’s why babies have smooth, soft skin—and no stiff joints). Once you reach about 30 years old, your body’s natural ability to replenish collagen begins to decrease. By 60, you have HALF the amount of collagen that you started life with.
Three common reasons why collagen declines in your bone matrix are (2):
The formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which is caused by an accumulation of sugar in your bone tissue.
The natural deterioration of collagen, which disrupts the structure and function of the molecules.
The disruption of an enzyme called lysyl oxidase, which is responsible for the cross-linking of proteins in your extracellular matrix.
Side Effects of Low Collagen Levels in Your Bones
As collagen production declines with age, your bones and joints suffer. Cartilage breaks down resulting in pain, stiffness, and inflammation (3).
Osteoporosis & Osteopenia
Osteoporosis is a condition marked by significant decreases in bone mineral density (BMD). Your bones lose density, become porous, and are more likely to break.
The midway point between healthy, strong bones and osteoporosis is called osteopenia. This is classified as the beginning stages of BMD loss.
Postmenopausal women are the most vulnerable group for osteoporosis and osteopenia. This is due to the changes in estrogen that take place during menopause, which directly impact bone formation and resorption (4). In fact, one in two women over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture (5).
Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when your cartilage—which protects the ends of your bones—wears down over time.
This results in bone-on-bone friction and damage to your joints, including pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, and swelling.
Common risk factors for osteoarthritis include:
Age (the most common)
Repeated stress on your joints
Certain metabolic conditions that impact the health of bones and joints (6)
Activity-Related Joint Pain
Aside from age-related osteoarthritis, activity-related joint pain is another common condition that arises from the breakdown of cartilage and bone-on-bone friction.
This type of joint pain arises from repetitive motion and strain on the joints, which may be related to workouts, sports, your line of work, or even bad ergonomics.
Repetitive knee strains are common in weightlifters, for example. Or you have probably heard of 'tennis elbow' which is chronic pain in the elbow due to repetitive strain in the sport. If working a desk job at a laptop or computer all day, you may be prone to wrist pain or spine injuries.
Years of overworking your joints can ultimately result in functional problems and pain.
How Collagen Supports Bone & Joint Health
As collagen naturally declines with age, research shows that supplementing with a high-quality collagen powder (like NativePath Bone Health Collagen Peptides) is one of the most impactful preventative measures you can take. Here’s how bioactive collagen peptides can restore your bones and joints…
Strengthens Bone Structure
Collagen provides strength and structure to your bones. It is found in the extracellular matrix (ECM). Its main job is weaving together the proteins found in your ECM.
Connecting these proteins creates a structure that holds your body together and protects vital organs and joints. Think of the ECM as the beams that create the scaffolding on the side of a building. Without these strong beams, it's nearly impossible to support the internal structure (7).
Collagen is involved in regulating a number of processes that contribute to bone growth.
Regulating the ability of your cells to bind to one another (cell adhesion)
Assisting in the growth and transformation of cells, including cell differentiation
Inducing the production of new bone by upregulating structural cells (osteoblast cells)
Supporting the healthy breakdown of bone
Increases Bone Mineral Density
Aside from its direct impact on bone growth and strength, collagen also assists in your bone mineral density (BMD).
BMD is an important marker for bone health as it measures the mass or density of your bones. As you age, BMD issues may arise and could eventually lead to osteoporosis (a condition where your bones become less dense and more prone to break).
Collagen increases BMD by:
Enhancing the ability of your bones to utilize calcium and other essential minerals that create the structure of your bones (11).
In one study, researchers aimed to investigate the impact that collagen supplementation would have on the BMD of postmenopausal women. The study participants took either 5 grams of collagen protein or a placebo daily for 12 months.
The researchers found that the collagen group experienced significant increases in BMD, along with a shift in bone markers that indicated an increase in bone formation, with a simultaneous decrease in the breakdown (11).
Collagen comprises nearly 40% of the cartilage that surrounds the ends of your bones where joints meet (12, 13). Studies show that when collagen is ingested orally, it tends to accumulate in your cartilage, which is excellent news for joint health (14).
Collagen increases chondrocyte formation, a crucial component of cartilage tissue. As you know, cartilage is an essential component of joint health, especially when it comes to preventing bone-on-bone friction (14).
Reduces Joint Pain & Deterioration
Several studies have shown that collagen significantly reduces pain and mobility issues in everyone from osteoarthritic patients to athletes with activity-related joint pain (15).
In one placebo-controlled study, a group of elderly women with osteoarthritis were provided collagen supplementation for six months. These women had been suffering from joint pain (specifically in their knees) which impeded their mobility.
By the end of the trial, the participants showed improved joint health markers, a significant increase in mobility, and reduced joint pain (16).
In a different study, a group of athletes with activity-related joint pain were given collagen supplements for 24-weeks.
Collagen improved several joint health markers, including joint pain while walking, standing, at rest, and while running. Due to collagen's ability to stimulate cartilage growth, supplementation can reduce the risk of future joint deterioration (17).
The Best Collagen Supplement for Bone Health
During the caveman days, collagen was consumed by eating a diet high in bone broth, skin, and organ meats.
Thankfully, you don’t have to eat organ meats every day to reap the benefits of collagen. Instead, there are collagen supplements, like NativePath Bone Health Collagen Peptides, that can easily be added to your water, coffee, tea, and more.
Just one scoop of this collagen powder per day can have a massive impact on your bone health. What’s unique about this collagen powder, in particular, is that it’s a bioactive collagen powder…
Where traditional collagen peptides replenish the collagen you’ve lost over the years, bioactive collagen peptides help your body produce its OWN collagen.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining healthy levels of collagen becomes vitally important as you age. Due to its integral role in bone strength, density, and joint health, collagen is one of the most essential nutrients your body needs to maintain the health of your entire musculoskeletal system.
If you’ve tried collagen supplements to no avail, don’t worry. You may have just chosen the wrong collagen supplement or you simply weren’t taking enough.
NativePath Bone Health Collagen contains proprietary and clinically-proven bioactive collagen peptides FORTIBONE® and VERISOL® for strong bones and healthy joints (plus skin, hair, and nails). These bioactive collagen peptides are unique in that they help you make your own collagen whereas other collagen peptides simply restore the collagen you’ve lost.
As a doctor of Physical Therapy, Senior Wellness Expert, and co-founder of NativePath, Dr. Walding has helped millions of people improve their quality of life from the inside out—by speaking, writing, and educating others on how to live life a little more #OnThePath.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.