WATCH: Collagen proves credentials to compete in sports nutrition segment

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Collagen - revered for its links to bone and joint health appears to be comfortably transitioning to a feature ingredient in the sports nutrition sector, where its benefits to muscle health and body toning are now recognised.

A mainstay of Vitafoods in the past, stakeholders in the collagen sector are responded to claims that the ingredient is not ‘attractive’ enough to appeal to a health conscious, youthful audience.

“Consumers are responding to this ingredient,” ​said Lucyna Filipek, product developer at Seagarden. “Not only professional athletes but other active consumers are starting to understand collagen’s role in their bodies.”

“Collagen is particularly significant in the prevention of injuries. A few years ago, people were not thinking about supplementing with collagen. Now people are more aware of the need to preempt injuries to the tendons and joints before they occur.”    

If this year’s show is anything to go by, the market for collagen-enriched products is in rude health as manufacturers and suppliers were out in force keen to showcase the versatility of this protein.

Spanish-based biotechnology company Bioiberica’s b-2Cool is a native type II collagen-based nutraceutical ingredient that maintains joint health via an immune-mediated mechanism.

Likewise, the firm’s Tendoactive is a food supplement containing type I collagen, mucopolysaccharides and vitamin C, which aids in the upkeep of tendon biomechanics.

Products that use collagen derived from marine life remain popular as French producer Weishardt showed off its range of Naticol natural fish collagen peptide powder.

Produced by enzymatic hydrolysis and made primarily from fish skin and scales, the peptide mixture contains dipeptides and tripeptides amongst its unique amino acid profile that also includes glycine, proline and hydroxyproline in addition to glutamine and arginine.

Healthy ageing and sports nutrition 

Naticol’s amino acid profile could widen the opportunities for the ingredient that may include protein shots in a sports nutrition application for example.

“It’s normal if you can demonstrate the benefits of fish collagen peptides for the elderly and apply them to sports nutrition,”​ said Dr Christelle Bonnet, scientific director of health ingredients at Weishardt International.  

“For example, the benefits of preventing inflammation in the elderly can also be extended to the inflammation seen in the physical exertions of athletes that can play a role in injury risk.”

Norwegian ingredient manufacturer Seagarden were at Vitafoods this year exhibiting its marine collagen produced from cod skins intended for blending with functional foods and nutraceuticals.

“Collagen has its uses in muscle building,”​ added Filipek. “Its high protein content can prove useful for those trying to build muscle mass."

“Its benefits extend towards the recovery period of the muscle, its flexibility and associated connective tissues.”

Shane Durkee, vice president of platform innovation, consumer health research and development at Lonza​​, echoes Seagarden’s comments.

“When you’re looking at collagen blends, one of the key points is the low dose of Lonza’s UCII undenatured type II collagen.”

“If you look other branded players in different markets they’re combining collagen with something else to address inflammation, pain and performance and you can hit different segments such as sports.”

What next for collagen?

As NutraIngredients US highlights​, the animal origins of collagen prove no obstacle for producers catering to the growing vegan audience.

Collagen boosters have emerged as the next best thing for this demographic, with supplement firms formulating products that boost the body’s natural collagen production.

Vegan ‘collagen boosting’ supplements remain few and far between in Europe with notable entrants that include Vegavero Vegan Collagen Plus Complex​ and Herbaland Gummies’  Vegan Collagen Booster Gummies​, which also made their debut at Vitafoods this year.

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