Women's joint health : mature women stretching

Women’s joint health: can collagen help?

As we age it is common for individuals to experience joint issues due to wear and tear over a lifetime as well as an increase in inflammation. Musculoskeletal pain, arthralgia and arthritis are all more common in women, and their frequency increases with age. In some, a decline in women’s joint health appears to be associated with the onset of menopause.1

As menopause is a time when activity and mental health is essential to wellbeing, it is an important time to support joint health and reduce pain in order to both ameliorate symptoms and maintain movement. This blog looks at collagen as a therapeutic support for joints which may be considered during menopause to support joint health, wellness and exercise.

Women’s joint health – pain and oestrogen

The effect oestrogen has on joint health is not fully understood and is certainly multifactorial. One study that looked at the administration of oestrogen alone to women in the climacteric stage of menopause found a reduction in joint pain2.

This demonstrates that decreasing levels of oestrogen during menopause may be a trigger, or at least a contributor, to joint pain.

Potential influences of oestrogen on joint health are:

  • Reduction in inflammation, oestrogen has been shown to suppress inflammation mainly through regulation of the NF-kB pathway.3,4
  • Oestrogen levels regulate changes in osteoarthritis (OA) by inhibiting degradation of the extracellular matrix and reducing cartilage turnover5
  • Oestrogen is responsible for regulating fluid levels in the body; therefore, if levels of this hormone are low, the body becomes less able to hold water, which can affect the hydration and lubrication of the joint tissues, including the cartilage, ligaments and tendons6
  • Catabolism and anabolism – oestrogen is an anabolic (tissue building) hormone – promoting growth and therefore repair and regeneration of tissue. Osteoarthritis is a catabolic (breaking down tissue) condition and therefore a drop in oestrogen can have a significant impact on cartilage degradation and the subsequent onset of osteoarthritis

Therefore, it is important to support joint health, particularly by protecting cartilage, as menopause approaches in order to maintain mobility into old age. Collagen supplementation can be effective at maintaining and repairing cartilage. This blog looks at the mechanisms and research as to how collagen supports joint health and functionality.

Repair of collagen matrix and regeneration of connective tissue cells

Cartilage is made up of specialised cells known as chondrocytes, which produce an extracellular matrix made up of collagen, proteoglycans, and elastin. This matrix acts as shock absorber in the joint, to take strain off the end of the bone and help prevent wear and tear on the cartilage itself. Therefore, supporting this matrix and regenerating chondrocytes is essential for supporting joint health.

Collagen – Collagen type II is a major component of the extracellular matrix of hyaline cartilage and its synthesis and catabolism is regulated by chondrocytes (cells found in cartilage connective tissue).7

Collagen type II fibres: the main structural component of cartilage, providing structure, firmness, and resistance to compression – account for 60% of cartilage. Studies have demonstrated that the supplementation of specific collagen peptides in young adults with functional knee problems led to a statistically significant improvement of activity-related joint pain. It is also important to note that the body’s ability to synthesise collagen declines with age.8

Specialised cells called fibroblasts play a key role in collagen synthesis in the body. They work by incorporating amino acids such as proline, lysine and glycine into complex strands in order to create the basic collagen molecule. This basic molecule then undergoes further binding, cross-linking and folding depending on the final type of collagen being produced. Vitamin A, vitamin C and copper are important for collagen production.9

Skip to Key Takeaways

Peptan IIm

A form of hydrolysed collagen type II which has been specifically formulated with joint health in mind. It has been matrixed with chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid, making it identical to the composition of cartilage in humans. As a natural source of collagen, it can stimulate the synthesis of collagen within the body, while also providing the building blocks necessary for joint support. The recommended dose for Peptan IIm is 1-3g/daily.

Peptan IIm collagen Type II and women’s joint health – what does the research say?

Maintaining sufficient levels of collagen is essential for the maintenance of healthy and flexible joints. Studies have shown the following effects of collagen type II consumption on joint health:

  • Improved overall joint health: Peptan treatment resulted in a 32% decrease in joint pain and a 44% improvement in stiffness among women with osteoarthritis.6 A statistically significant reduction in the WOMAC score (international standard method for assessing joint health) was also observed
  • Improved knee-joint function: Peptan treatment resulted in a 7% increase in the Lysholm score; a scale linked to improved knee movement in everyday activities.8 In a 24-week clinical trial, improved joint health and a reduced risk of joint deterioration in athletes was observed following supplementation with hydrolysed collagen.10 Furthermore, statistically significant improvements in activity related joint pain versus control were also observed11
  • Chondrocyte (cartilage cell) stimulation: Hydrolysed collagen type II treatment stimulated chondrocyte excretion of type II collagen12
  • Protection from degeneration: In a model for post-traumatic osteoarthritis, Peptan supplementation provided protection to cartilage from degeneration, as well as promotion of lubrication through the stimulation of proteoglycan synthesis in chrondrocytes.10 Similar findings were found in a model for obesity-associated osteoarthritis13
  • Anti-inflammatory effect: Peptan supplementation showed an anti-inflammatory effect in the knee joint13
  • Improved recovery: Following supplementation with hydrolysed type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans, blood markers associated with muscular stress, including creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and c-reactive protein all showed improvements compared with control14

Collagen absorption

Collagen itself is a complex protein molecule with a quaternary structure, therefore it needs to go through several stages of digestion to be broken down into amino acids to be absorbed and this is why there have been conflicting opinions as to whether collagen supplements are effective.

However, good quality collagen supplements are in hydrolysed collagen or collagen peptide form. These are already partially broken down and as they go through the digestive tract they are modified into di and tri peptides (molecules with 2 or 3 amino acids respectively). Collagen-specific amino acid hydroxyproline forms hydrolysis-resistant peptide bonds that lead to the appearance of di- and tripeptides. Those peptides are absorbed across the wall of the intestine into the bloodstream and exert a messenger function directly on the target cell.

The di- and tripeptides that are formed during the digestion process carry the inherent bioactivity of collagen peptides. Those peptides are effectively absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream, meaning that they are highly bioavailable. Reaching the target tissue of their bioactivity, e.g., skin, bone or cartilage, they deliver a messaging signal to the local cells positively influencing its function. Therefore their mechanism of action appears to be more by influencing the activity of local cells as opposed to forming new collagen within the body, although hydrolysed collagen provides the building blocks to support collagen production.

Women’s joint health summary:

It may be prudent to begin supporting cartilage maintenance prior to onset of degradation or osteoarthritis. As menopause can be a trigger for osteoarthritis, it is a good time to consider using a Peptan IIm collagen to protect joint health. It is known that using type 2 collagen such as Peptan can improve joint mobility and reduce pain. These factors are essential for maintaining functional movement and therefore fitness and movement as well as supporting mental wellbeing.

Key Takeaways

  • Oestrogen plays an important role in protecting cartilage within the joint, therefore when oestrogen levels drop during menopause it can be a trigger for cartilage degradation and hence osteoarthritis.
  • Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. As a major component of connective tissue, it can be found in the skin, muscles and tendons etc.
  • Specialised cells called fibroblasts play a key role in collagen synthesis in the body. They work by incorporating amino acids such as proline, lysine and glycine into complex strands in order to create the basic collagen molecule. This basic molecule then undergoes further binding, cross-linking and folding depending on the final type of collagen being produced. Vitamin A, vitamin C and copper are important for collagen production.
  • The body’s ability to synthesise collagen declines with age.
  • Collagen type II is primarily used to support joint health as it makes up 70-95% of the cartilage in joints. It is a major component of the extracellular matrix of hyaline cartilage; a firm, gel-like substance which covers the bones. The primary function of cartilage is to provide cushioning and reduce friction between bones as they slide over or against each other. Collagen accounts for 60% of this, while other matrix elements such as aggrecan (a large proteoglycan containing chondroitin sulphate) and hyaluronic acid are also present

Related products

CytoProtect® Joints is formulated using Peptan® IIm powder, a hydrolysed matrix of type II collagen and glycoaminoglycans (chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid).


Women’s joint health references

  1. Watt FE. Musculoskeletal pain and menopause. Post Reprod Health. 2018;24(1):34-43. doi:10.1177/2053369118757537
  2. Chlebowski RT, Cirillo DJ, Eaton CB, et al. Estrogen Alone and Joint Symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Trial. Menopause. 2013;20(6):1313-1320. doi:10.1097/GME.0B013E31828392C4
  3. Duckles SP, Krause DN. Mechanisms of cerebrovascular protection: oestrogen, inflammation and mitochondria. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011;203(1):149-154. doi:10.1111/J.1748-1716.2010.02184.X
  4. Duckles SP, Krause DN. Mechanisms of cerebrovascular protection: oestrogen, inflammation and mitochondria. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011;203(1):149-154. doi:10.1111/J.1748-1716.2010.02184.X
  5. Xu X, Li X, Liang Y, et al. Estrogen Modulates Cartilage and Subchondral Bone Remodeling in an Ovariectomized Rat Model of Postmenopausal Osteoarthritis. Med Sci Monit. 2019;25:3146-3153. doi:10.12659/MSM.916254
  6. Rodriguez-Giustiniani P, Rodriguez-Sanchez N, Galloway SDR. Fluid and electrolyte balance considerations for female athletes. Eur J Sport Sci. 2022;22(5):697-708. doi:10.1080/17461391.2021.1939428
  7. Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, et al. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006;168(6):1861-1868. doi:10.2353/AJPATH.2006.051302
  8. (PDF) Collagen peptides improve knee osteoarthritis in elderly women: A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Accessed March 6, 2023.
  9. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P. Fibroblasts and Their Transformations: The Connective-Tissue Cell Family. Published online 2002. Accessed March 6, 2023.
  10. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008;24(5):1485-1496. doi:10.1185/030079908X291967
  11. Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Gollhofer A, König D. Improvement of activity-related knee joint discomfort following supplementation of specific collagen peptides. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017;42(6):588-595. doi:10.1139/APNM-2016-0390
  12. Oesser S, Seifert J. Stimulation of type II collagen biosynthesis and secretion in bovine chondrocytes cultured with degraded collagen. Cell Tissue Res. 2003;311(3):393-399. doi:10.1007/S00441-003-0702-8
  13. Rousselot (2011) Rousselot Unpublished Data, retrieved from: https://www.peptan.com/about-peptan/downloads/peptan-joint-health-in-vitro-study-whitepaper/.
  14. Varlas S, Maitland GL, Derry MJ. Protein-, (Poly)peptide-, and Amino Acid-Based Nanostructures Prepared via Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly. Polymers (Basel). 2021;13(16). doi:10.3390/POLYM13162603

If you have questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters, please do contact our team of Nutritional Therapists.

nutrition@cytoplan.co.uk
01684 310099

Last updated on 3rd January 2024 by cytoffice


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13 thoughts on “Women’s joint health: can collagen help?

  1. This was like a light bulb moment. I have had what was “diagnosed” as irritable bladder for goi going on 15 years (I’m 66) this was widened over the last couple of years. I don’t sleep well because I’m up anything between 3 and 7 times per night. My joints have become worse at the same time. My bio resonance practitioner says my body is not utilising the water I drink. I have previously been under a rheumatologist too.
    I no longer take allopathic medication because of horrendous side effects. Would this supplement help me. From what I’ve read it would seem so. I find your articles so very useful and informative.

    1. Hi Julie, thank you for your query. There are a number of both dietary and lifestyle factors that may be supportive for an overactive bladder, so it would be a good idea if we could pick this up with you to discuss further. Please drop an email over to nutrition@cytoplan.co.uk and one of our team will come back to you shortly.

    2. I found that prolonged exposure to microwave radiation during the night from Wi-Fi, mobiles, masts ect caused me sleep disruption, muscle cramps and increase thirst and bladder irritation. Vitamin supplements have helped a lot but reducing exposure to Electro Magnetic Fields and microwave radiation was vital.

    1. Hi Sara, collagen itself is a complex protein molecule with a quaternary structure, therefore it needs to go through several stages of digestion to be broken down into amino acids to be absorbed. Good quality collagen supplements are in hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptide form. These are already partially broken down and as they go through the digestive tract they are modified into di and tri peptides (molecules with 2 or 3 amino acids respectively) and the peptides are absorbed across the wall of the intestine into the bloodstream, and exert a messenger function directly on the target cell.

      Cytoplan offers both vegan and marine sources of collagen peptides, both of which have proven efficacy for their connective tissue support. Our Cytoprotect Joint Health is a bovine source of Type II collagen, which is the type predominantly found in our cartilage, so particularly supportive for the joints.

  2. I’m 87 and have a painful right knee,
    What would you suggest in trying to reduce the pain, I am on medication for BP Hiatus Hernia and vitamin D for my bones. I take your Fos A Dophilus every day

    1. Hi Rosemary, apologies for the delay in replying. Our Boswellia is a potent anti-inflammatory supplement which can reduce pain and stiffness, and results can often be seen within a few days so would be a good first option for you. Longer term I would recommend you considered a supplement to help repair and regenerate the cartilage in the joints, such as our Cytoprotect Joint Health, Glucosamine HCl and MSM. You can find our full range of joint health supplements here. Please do note that we always recommend supplements are taken away from any prescribed medication.

  3. I have recently started taking Joint Health supplement. My osteoathritis is not severe but my left hip has began aching. After reading your informative article at 73 years of age. menapause was a while ago for me. does the information still apply as one ages. I am fit and fairly flexible

  4. I’ve just started taking the Joint Health supplement and am following the advice to take 3 a day for 13 weeks and then reduce. I am excited to see if this really helps my constant age related arthritis aches and pains. Will report back! There are so many hundreds of supplements out there that it is confusing to know what to take and in what quantities and for how long. I’m 67.

    1. Hi Emma, Cytoprotect Joint Health can certainly be an extremely supportive supplement for stiff and painful joints due to osteoarthritis or wear and tear. Do please let us know how you get on: nutrition@cytoplan.co.uk

  5. I have only started using Collagen Joint at the end of March it is still early days but I have already noticed the difference. I used to feel very stiff upon waking up in the morning and no longer have the stiffness. Also I do exercise regularly and have noticed an improvement in my knees. I will continue to use this as I feel it is a very good product my only concern is that it is a bit expensive.

    1. Hi Miss Thomas, thank you for your kind feedback – and how fabulous to hear that you are achieving such great results so soon. As your symptoms improve, you might find that you can reduce the dosage of Cytoprotect Joint Health, which will help to reduce the cost.

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