Collagen for sports nutrition at SupplySide West 2018

December 5, 2018

New research and ingredients from collagen manufacturers as they continue their push into the sports nutrition space.

Naturally, collagen is making its way into the sports nutrition space. The ingredient known for its skin and joint health benefits has been leveraging its joint health benefits to appeal to active consumers, giving new life to an ingredient that was once primarily marketed toward the beauty market or to older individuals. Innovation and new research are a big part of this push.

“We are also still supplying towards beauty and the broad holistic purposes, but we see there is a big growth within sports nutrition,” said Frank Engel, global marketing development manager for Rousselot (Mukwonago, WI). “Sports nutrition is getting more popular, and the group of people who want sports nutrition is broadening.”

Companies such as Gelita (Sergeant Bluff, IA) and Rousselot invest a good deal into R&D, formulating efficacious ingredients and validating them with research. Rousselot, for example, showcased new research for its Peptan collagen peptides, a type I collagen ingredient with a unique amino acid profile providing support throughout the body, in skin, muscles, bones, and joints. The new double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial studied Peptan’s effects on recovery following high-intensity training.

In the study, 24 active men were either given 20 g of Peptan (10 g in the morning and 10 g at night) or placebo each day for nine days, seven of which were a run-in period allowing the collagen to take effect. Measurements were taken at baseline, just prior to exercise, right after exercise, 24 hours after exercise, and 48 hours after exercise. Results showed that compared to placebo, the Peptan group perceived less muscle soreness following 150 drop jumps. The Peptan group was also able to recover faster. For example, researchers saw that 48 hours after exercise, there was a significant improvement in performance, suggesting faster recovery.

The holistic approach of targeting multiple areas of the body certainly has validity in this case, but consumers and manufacturers also want a targeted approach. Rousselot, for example, also showcased at SupplySide West 2018 its new ingredient Peptan IIm, a type II collagen ingredient targeting joint health specifically. “The collagen type II is in a matrix together with glycosaminoglycan,” explained Engel. “Therefore, the total matrix has three health benefits all targeting joint health, improving [joint] locomotion, cartilage restoration, and it also protects again inflammation. [The matrix glycosaminoglycan] really improve the cushioning and lubrication. In combination with collagen’s effect of improving cartilage, there you have a unique combination.”

Gelita has been targeting multiple specific areas with its bioactive collagen peptides, with specific products targeting skin, bones, muscles, and most recently tendons and ligaments with Tendoforte. “If you think about sporty people-professional athletes or just the casual person that goes to the gym-a lot of time, an injury to the tendon or ligament takes them out of commission,” explained Lara Niemann, marketing director for Gelita. “It’s a very small component of the connective tissue but it’s so important for mobility and vitality.”

Citing a yet-to-be-published study conducted with the Australian Institute of Sports, Niemann explained that researchers found that in athletes suffering from some type of tendon or ligament injury, those who took Tendoforte experienced a significantly faster return to training. Combined with Gelita’s other products, Tendoforte provides optimal support for those with an active lifestyle.

The other advantage of this targeted support is that doses can be low relative to other collagen products. “We recommend, for example, 8 g of the regular collagen on a daily basis, but the Petan IIm, it’s sufficient to take 1-3 g per day,” explained Engel.

“With Verisol, for example, it’s a 2.5-g dose. We did a number of studies looking dosing and what we found is that 2.5 g really is optimal. You get statistically significant benefits,” explained Niemann. Nor are higher doses more efficacious, she added. “We’re in this for commercial business, it would be in our interest to say you need a high gram dose, but you don’t. That isn’t what the research shows.”

Low dosage also allows for greater versatility in product applications, including functional foods and beverages. Peptan IIm and Gelita’s line of collagen peptides are highly soluble, giving manufacturers the ability to mix them into food or drink without affecting the taste of the final product. Repackaging these products in powder form to the end consumer also allows them incorporate collagen into recipes, a trend that is gaining steam. However, Niemann makes the point that the potential for collagen’s use in functional foods and beverages isn’t a way to replace traditional supplements, but to provide multiple alternative delivery methods in addition to traditional supplements.

“I think from the functional food perspective it’s a hard sell, if you want to improve your beauty, to have to eat this yogurt every day,” Niemann explained. “You would need to consume then extra calories and fat, so in that regard, more traditional supplements, whether it’s a capsule or gummy or powder, make sense. Still, it’s about diversity. I don’t want to do the same thing every day.”

Indeed, traditional, time-tested delivery forms of collagen supplements continue to have success. For example, BioCell Technology LLC (Irvine, CA) recently announced the launch of its BioCell Collagen ingredient as a standalone capsule product in the NOW product line, marketed for healthy aging, including joint health, skin health, and other connective tissue. BioCell Collagen is a hydrolyzed type II collagen with glycosaminoglycans-specifically, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. 

“We are pleased to incorporate such a high-quality raw material into our newest product, NOW BioCell Collagen,” said Jim Ritcheske, product marketing manager for NOW. “This hydrolyzed type II collagen product fits perfectly into NOW's Joint Comfort and Mobility Product segment and allows us to capitalize on the growing awareness of BioCell Type II Collagen in the marketplace for maintaining normal moisture levels in mature skin and to support healthy joint function. The strength of the clinically validated science and clinical trials supporting BioCell Collagen was a major factor for NOW in deciding to add this product to our dietary supplement line.”

Two capsules of the NOW supplement deliver a dose of 1000 mg of BioCell Collagen II collagen peptides and includes 95 mg of hyaluronic acid and 190 mg of chondroitin sulfate.