As consumers become ever-more health-conscious and, therefore, more physically active, the sports nutrition market is expanding rapidly. In fact, almost half of the athletic population globally now uses dietary supplements, following increasing acceptance of such products in recent years. Whether it’s for managing nutrient deficiencies, improving performance or just general wellbeing, nutritional supplements that have been declared effective and safe to use have a vital role to play in maintaining good health. And one ingredient in particular is grabbing the headlines, and growing in popularity as more people are becoming aware of its benefits – collagen peptides.
Spotlight on tendons and ligaments
Thanks to their nutritional and technological properties, collagen peptides are now being incorporated into a variety of sports and active nutrition products to help improve physical performance. For this purpose Gelita offers pure collagen peptides (BodyBalance) that can be used in a variety of functional and sports beverages. Being easily absorbed by the body and highly bioavailable, BodyBalance positively influences body composition and supports body toning. But there’s more specific collagen peptides can offer for both amateur and professional sportspeople:
“Every sport requires a degree of strength, power and speed, relying a lot on tendons and the intact composition of their extracellular matrix collagens, proteoglycans and elastic fibres,” explains Dr Stephan Hausmanns, Vice President of Health and Nutrition at Gelita AG. “Overuse can make tendons and ligaments more injury prone, so it is no surprise that soft tissue injuries are extremely common in both professional and amateur athletes. And as injuries account for more than 70% of time out from sport, we found that there is a real need for nutritional strategies to strengthen the connective tissue.”
That’s why Gelita has launched Tendoforte, the newest addition to the company’s range of Bioactive Collagen Peptides. It has been optimised to strengthen tendons and ligaments, and has been shown to reduce the incidence of sports injuries and accelerate recovery.
“It acts both as a preventive nutritional intervention for tendon and ligament problems, and also helps injured athletes get back to their former performance levels more quickly,” adds Stephan.
The science behind
Tendoforte is a bioactive peptide that is unique in its mode of action. And it has been optimised to stimulate the biosynthesis of new extracellular proteins for healthy tendons and ligaments at a daily dose of just 5g. It performs well in terms of texture and taste too, making it highly suitable for all kinds of sports nutrition products such as bars, gels, powders and beverages.
Preclinical studies have shown that specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides stimulate the RNA-expression and biosynthesis of collagen, proteoglycans and elastin in the Achilles tendon.
The University of Freiburg Department of Sport, in Germany, looked into the effects of Tendoforte in reducing ankle sprains and improved ankle stability. It concluded that six months’ supplementation with Tendoforte resulted in significant improvements in ankle stability, reduced sprains and a reduced risk of further injury in the three-month follow-up period, suggesting the effects are long term.
Furthermore, a recent study conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) showed that subjects with long-term symptoms of chronic Achilles tendinopathy, who had not responded to traditional rehabilitation methods, were able to return to running within three months when supplementing with Tendoforte, and were able to keep running for the remainder of the six-month trial period.
In the study, participants were given a placebo (maltodextrin) or Tendoforte in combination with bi-daily eccentric calf-strengthening exercises for six months, using a cross-over design. Group AB received specific collagen peptides for the first three months before crossing over to the placebo, whereas Group BA received the placebo first before crossing over to the specific collagen peptides. At baseline, after three and six months, all patients were asked to rate their subjective Achilles tendon pain and functional limitations using a Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment–Achilles (VISA-A) questionnaire. Scores increased significantly in group AB (12.6) compared with 5.3 in group BA. After crossing over, both groups showed significant improvements in VISA-A of 5.9 (AB) and 17.7 (BA).
The authors concluded that oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides may accelerate the clinical benefits of a well-structured calf-strengthening and return-to-running program. In summary, the risk of injury decreases considerably while flexibility improves.
“The majority of sports people with Achilles tendon problems are either runners or those involved in sports in which running is an important part of training. Many people resort to painkillers and anti-inflammatories, but Achilles tendinopathy is a degenerative problem, not an inflammatory one,” explains says Suzane Leser, Director of Nutrition Communication at Gelita AG. “Although extensively studied, the condition still lacks an optimal management plan, and Tendoforte is now proven to make a difference to most cases.
“These studies reveal Tendoforte as the very first nutritional solution that goes to the root of the problem. Its bioactivity inﬂuences the tenocyte cell metabolism, promoting the natural, sustained healing process. The incidence of overuse injury in sports has risen, not only because of the greater participation in recreational and competitive sports, but also as a result of the increased duration and intensity of training, creating a real need for nutritional strategies to strengthen the connective tissue.”
As a result of the growing science, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has recently stated that collagen may assist with training capacity, recovery, muscle soreness and injury management. The IOC suggested a range of 5–15g per day of collagen, based on the different efficacies observed in studies that used a specific bioactive collagen peptide or a generic collagen hydrolysate. The committee’s opinion cited the research developed with Gelita’s Bioactive Collagen Peptides.
 Dressler et al. (2018) Improvement of Functional Ankle Properties Following Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides in Athletes with Chronic Ankle Instability. J Sports Sci Med 17(2):298-304.
 Praet et al. (2017) Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides accelerates improvement in Achilles tendon symptoms and function in combination with eccentric exercise. S Afr J Sports Med 29, suppl 1.