Innovation in joint health: A focus on collagen

Already one of the leading categories in the dietary supplement sector, joint health is experiencing rapid growth and the number of mobility products entering the market continues to increase, writes Jaume Reguant, Healthcare Director, Bioiberica SAU

Joint health is a growing market and the reasons are twofold. First, life expectancy around the world is increasing. Age can significantly impact muscle, bone and joint health, with 45% of individuals older than 65 saying they experience joint pain. Interest amongst the 60+ population is therefore growing, as older consumers look for ways to stay active and enjoy maximum mobility for as long as possible.

However, interest is also moving beyond the senior population. For instance, several studies demonstrate that sporty people, the 40+ population and women experiencing menopause commonly suffer from joint discomfort or mobility issues.

Spotlight on collagen

In terms of creating products that fit into this market, data shows that, for more than a decade, glucosamine and chondroitin have been widely used as active ingredients for joint health. However, other innovative ingredients, such as collagen, are now rapidly gaining market share.

Collagen is the main component of connective tissues that make up tendons, ligaments, skin and cartilage. Although it has many important functions in the body, collagen is best known for its structural role — providing a framework for tissues throughout the body. Of the 28 different types of collagen that have been identified, type II collagen is the main structural protein in cartilage.

Both native (undenatured) type II collagen and hydrolysed (denatured) collagen are available for commercial use in joint health products.

Native type II versus hydrolysed collagen

Although both types of collagen are the same molecule, native type II collagen remains in its biologically active form. Hydrolysed collagen, however, has been broken down into smaller peptide molecules. Hydrolysed collagen is typically absorbed by the body so that it can reach the cartilage to be effective, whereas native collagen is not.

Instead, native type II collagen maintains its three-dimensional triple helix structure and is recognised by the immune system as an endogenous substance. These differences effect how each type of collagen can be used to support joint health.

The mechanism by which both collagens act differs, with native type II collagen working through an immune mediated process, known as oral tolerance. Alternatively, hydrolysed collagen peptides act as building blocks at the site of cartilage.

In addition, the daily dose and intake required for each collagen to be effective in the body varies significantly. The native collagen form, for example, is only needed at 40 mg/day, whereas the recommendation for hydrolysed collagen is 5–10 g/day. The low dosage required for the former to be effective mirrors consumer demand for easy-to-consume, convenient products. As a result, popularity of the ingredient is expected to grow further in coming years.

Native type II collagen in action

To meet growing demand for more effective, low-dose solutions in the joint health market, Bioiberica has developed b-2Cool — a widely researched, natural-origin ingredient that supplies native type II collagen to support joint health. Extracted from chicken sterna, the manufacture of b-2Cool is strictly controlled to maintain its characteristic triple helix structure and the specific biologically active epitopes of the native protein.

The latest market data shows that joint health is one of the most opportune sectors in dietary supplements. As such, Bioiberica is able to help manufacturers explore new horizons in the joint health market and inspire the next generation of innovative products.

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