As you get older, it's common for the connective tissue and padding in your joints to start breaking down, particularly if you do regular intense exercise. This condition can be painful and can lead to bone injuries and other complications. So how can you relieve this discomfort so you can enjoy your daily activities pain-free?
Researchers may have discovered the answer. A substance that can help build up the tendons, ligaments, and bones, also protects them from injury. And this substance works best when combined with high-impact exercise!
For this study, the researchers had to examine artificial ligaments that they grew in a lab. (No one is going to sign up for a study that requires knee surgery just to evaluate results.) However, they were able to compare blood samples from these artificial ligaments to samples from human participants in their study. The eight human participants were all young, healthy men who took a gelatin and vitamin C supplement. An hour later, they engaged in the high-impact activity of skipping for one hour.
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The researchers evaluated both the participants' blood and the lab ligaments for the amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen. These, in turn, help build tendons, ligaments, and bones. They found that the supplement did, in fact, increase the levels of collagen ingredients. It also benefitted the mechanics of the lab ligaments.
The researchers concluded that a gelatin and vitamin C supplement, when combined with exercise, can help the body repair itself more efficiently and avoid injury more effectively. If you're worried about your joints, this could be a good place to start.
Gelatin is a form of hydrolyzed protein, which means it's essentially a part of broken-down collagen. Collagen is "the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom" and the major component of connective tissue in the human body. It makes up about a quarter of our total body mass. Gelatin comes in animal form and is a result of cooking/boiling animal parts (skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones) with water. It's generally from cows or pigs. As far as I know, the only real gelatin you can find is from animal sources. So it might be something vegetarians might want to avoid.
You can make Jell-O with agar and other vegetarian ingredients. But agar and the vegan options do not have the therapeutic benefits of animal gelatin. Some vegans believe that the medical benefits of gelatin can be had through green vegetables. However, if you're not vegan, gelatin might be something to consider for achy joints. You can find gelatin and vitamin C supplements on the Internet and in most health food stores.
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G. Shaw, A. Lee-Barthel, M. L. Ross, B. Wang, K. Baar. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.138594.