Gelatin supplements and Vitamin C: Good for your joints?
A new study from Keith Baar's Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory at the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences and Greg Shaw of the Australian Institute of Sport suggests that consuming a gelatin supplement and vitamin C, plus a burst of intensive exercise, can help build ligaments, tendons and bones. The study is published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
It's difficult to assess the direct effect of a supplement on tissues without opening up someone's knee, of course. But Baar's laboratory has developed techniques to grow artificial ligaments in the laboratory, and for the research they used their lab-dish ligaments as a stand-in for the real thing.
Baar, Shaw, and their colleagues enrolled eight healthy young men in a trial of a gelatin supplement enhanced with vitamin C. The volunteers drank the supplement and had blood taken, and after one hour performed a five minute bout of a high-impact exercise such as skipping.
The researchers tested the blood for amino acids that could build up the collagen protein that composes tendons, ligaments, and bones. They also tested blood samples for their effect on Baar's lab-grown ligaments at UC Davis. The gelatin supplement increased blood levels of amino acids and markers linked to collagen synthesis, and improved the mechanics of the engineered lab-grown ligaments, they found.
"These data suggest that adding gelatin and vitamin C to an intermittent exercise program could play a beneficial role in the prevention of connective tissue and bone injuries, as well as tissue repair," the researchers wrote.