Collagen ingredient better than glucosamine for joint health?

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Joint health Chondroitin sulfate Cartilage Osteoarthritis

A patented collagen ingredient may be twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, according to results of randomized, double-blind study.

The undenatured type II collagen known as UC-II from California’s InterHealth Nutraceuticals might reduce pain, stiffness and immobility associated with osteoarthritis, according to findings published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences​.

The new study compared a daily dose of UC-II (40 mg) with a combination of glucosamine (1500mg of glucosamine HCl, USP Grade) and chondroitin (1200mg, USP Grade), the big hitters in the joint health supplements world.

Looking at markers of joint health in 52 volunteers experiencing joint pain and stiffness in the knees from osteoarthritis, researchers led by Siba Raychaudhuri, MD, from the University of California Davis report that the effects were superior to those recorded in previous clinical investigations for glucosamine and chondroitin.

Glucosamine is extracted from the shell of crabs, lobster and shrimps. Cargill also markets a non-animal, non-shellfish derived product. The ingredient is often used in combination with chondroitin sulphate, extracted from animal cartilage, such as sharks.

According to the Nutrition Business Journal​, US sales for these combined supplements were $810 million (€563 million) in 2005.

“The clinical benefits we saw in osteoarthritic patients taking UC-II, showing significant overall improvement in conventional osteoarthritis efficacy measures, are positive clinical indicators that UC-II is highly effective at supporting joint health,”​ said Raychaudhuri. “While the overall benefits were impressive, it is important to note that reduction in pain and stiffness were seen as early as 30 days after taking UC-II.”

Approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis. Around 206 million working days were lost in the UK in 1999-2000, equal to £18 billion (€26 billion) of lost productivity.

Study details

The researchers assessed the physical function, stiffness and pain in the knee of 52 volunteers with an average age of 58.8 following 90 days of supplementation.

Compared to the established ingredients in the joint health market, the UC-II type II collagen product was found to reduce pain during exercise by 20 per cent, compared to 6.0 per cent for glucosamine and chondroitin, state the researchers.

Using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index as a measure of arthritis symptoms, the WOMAC score was found to have decreased by 33 and 14 per cent in the UC-II and glucosamine plus chondroitin groups, respectively.

“Similar results were observed for visual analog scale (VAS) scores,”​ added Raychaudhuri and co-workers. “Although both [UC-II and glucosamine plus chondroitin] reduced the VAS score, UC-II was found to be more effective with 40 per cent decrease after 90 days as compared to 15.4 per cent in glucosamine plus chondroitin groups,”​ they added. .


Commenting on the mechanism, the researchers stated that the precise biochemical mechanism “is not clearly established”​. They note, however, that the primary form of collagen in cartilage is type II collagen, and the amino acids it contains are “required for the synthesis and repair of connective tissue throughout the body.

“These products reportedly aid in reducing the destruction of collagen within the body, may provide anti-inflammatory activity, and may improve joint flexibility,” ​they said.

Source: International Journal of Medical Sciences
2009; Volume 6, Pages 312-321
“Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial”
Authors: D.C. Crowley, F.C. Lau, P. Sharma, M. Evans, N. Guthrie, M. Bagchi, D. Bagchi, D.K. Dey, S.P. Raychaudhuri
Available online here

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