Collagen and Health

Six years ago the captain of the British modern pentathlon team, James Greenwell, suffered a tendon injury to his ankle just at the peak of his career. Experts told James that it would take three months to repair the damage, so effectively ending his career. He felt there had to be an alternative so began research to find a faster acting treatment.

James ended up at the door of Professor Greg Whyte, Professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science at John Moore’s University, Liverpool. Professor Whyte had been researching the use of collagen hydrolysate so suggested James went on a treatment of fifteen tablets a day. The injury improved so markedly that after an amazing 22 days, James resumed training. His experience means that other Olympic athletes use collagen tablets to treat similar injuries.

Collagen makes up about 76% of the skin, muscles and connective tissues in the body so is the most common structural protein we have in our bodies. Problems arise with age: at the age of twenty-five the human body starts to lose collagen at an annual rate of 1.5%. By the age of forty-five 30% has been lost.

Such a loss of collagen shows itself in a loss of peak physical performance (it is more noticeable the more vigorous the activity) and the ageing of the skin. Clearly lessened support for joints results from a reduction of collagen in ligaments, tendons, muscles, cartilage and connective tissues and explains such conditions as muscular skeletal injuries and arthritis. A reduction can also affect the immune system. The body therefore benefits from good collagen health.

Several studies back these theories. Recently a study jointly undertaken by the University of Munich and Stamford University examined two thousand sufferers (both male and female) of osteoarthritis in the knee and hip joints. 75% of those studied who used a collagen supplement reported increased mobility and a reduction of pain.

A study of four hundred American, German and British patients experiencing arthritic knees was made by Cape Western University. Some patients received collagen and the rest a placebo. Of those treated with collagen, 93% showed positive results, some after just two weeks. There was a general reduction in pain and an improvement in mobility. Similarly a project at Harvard Medical School showed 90% of those treated in this way had an improvement in mobility.

Supplementing the body’s collagen has taken several forms including creams and injections but probably the most efficient method of delivering the protein is in capsule form.

James Greenwell teamed up with Professor Greg Whyte on his retirement from athletics and marketed a collagen health supplement capsule. Together they created a company, Party On, and a brand, Proto-col, and distributes the capsules from their head office in Bradford-Upon-Avon in Wiltshire along with a range of other health and beauty products.

Perhaps it’s not surprising the beauty industry and celebrities are taking a great interest in their collagen health.