As the weather starts to get better we see many of our athletes increase their training load as they look to build fitness before racing kicks off in the spring. With increased training load, we often see an uptick in questions surrounding our injury repair products such as Soft Tissue Complex, and our most popular protocol, the Athlete Repair Protocol. While these products are great for resolving an injury, it's obviously best to avoid injury in the first place; that's where Collagen and Pre-Collagen come into play.
Today, collagen supplements are everywhere. People are putting collagen in their coffee, baked goods, smoothies, or just about anywhere they can to reap the many claimed benefits. From joint health, to shinier hair and nails, to younger looking skin, there are endless claims about the importance of collagen supplementation. The issue? Most forms of collagen have very little science proving efficacy. At SwissRX, we think it's important that our customers know what they're putting in their body — that's why we wrote this guide to collagen supplementation for athletes.
Why Collagen Supplementation?
We think it's critical that athletes of all ability consider adding collagen to their diet. Collagen is the most abundant form of protein in the human body. However, when training volume increases, our bodies often can't endogenously produce enough collagen to keep up with demand. Training drastically increases collagen use as your body repairs the many micro-tears to soft tissue such as muscle, tendons and ligaments that arise after a hard workout. By taking a collagen supplement, you can help repair those micro-tears before you're sidelined by an injury and unable to train.
What makes SwissRX collagen different?
When it comes to collagen, not all supplements are created equal. The issue with most forms of collagen is, while they might be great for skin and nails, they tend to do little for healing tendons, ligaments, and joints because your body simply uses the supplement as a protein source. To counteract this issue, we sourced the most bioavailable forms of collagen to ensure they're used as the building blocks of soft tissue in the body. Fortigel® and TendoActive® are two of the most studied (and expensive) forms of collagen available on the market. With dozens of peer-reviewed studies proving their efficacy, you can know that your collagen supplement is working for you. Simply, they work better because they are the exact molecular size for optimal absorption. Finally, we included Mobilee®, a patented form of hyaluronic acid, which helps support the lubricating properties of synovial fluid in joints.
What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
While collagen accounts for the majority of protein in our bodies, it's quite hard to digest in its raw form. To counteract this issue, the collagen that's inside of supplements is always broken down into more digestible building blocks through hydrolysis. When it comes to the process of hydrolysis, there are two main options: chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis. Most brands use chemical hydrolysis because it's much cheaper and is usually "good enough." The issue with chemical hydrolysis is that the end product is imperfect, with the size of the amino acids (often called peptides) varying significantly. Enzymatic hydrolysis, while much more expensive, leads to a uniform breakdown of collagen to a specific molecular size known as a dalton. While the distinction seems small, the difference in bioavailability is large. Enzymatic hydrolyzed collagen can be absorbed faster and provides more of the collagen-rich amino acids (such as glycine and proline) which your body utilizes in soft tissues.
Fortigel® is scientifically proven to stimulate regeneration of joint cartilage
Fortigel®, one of the main ingredients in SwissRX Collagen, is a patented form of type II collagen: the form of collagen that gives cartilage tensile strength and elasticity. The effectiveness of Fortigel® has been scientifically proven in numerous studies and the ingestion of Fortigel® has been shown to significantly increase the regeneration of cartilage in joints. In a study done at Penn State, 147 athletes who suffered from joint pain were recruited. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, it was shown that 5g of Fortigel® (the exact dosage in SwissRX Collagen) navigated into cartilage caps to successfully reduce pain and also signal the body to produce its own type II collagen endogenously.
Tendoactive® has been shown to help your body recover, even during times of injury
Most collagens on the market include a type I collagen as it's the most abundant form of collagen in the human body. However when it comes to type I collagen supplementation, molecular size is of paramount importance. Tendoactive® was designed with this in mind as it's the exact molecular size to be absorbed into soft tissue to help enhance recovery, even when inflammation is present.
When inflammation is present (signified by the green bar in the graph below), your body's ability to synthesize type I collagen is greatly decreased compared to no injury (blue bar). However, when you supplement with Tendoactive®, even with inflammation present, your body's ability to recover is almost the same as the control. This strong anti-inflammatory property of Tendoactive® decreases healing time during times of injury and also greatly increases collagen absorption decreasing your chance of injury.
Mobilee® is the most bioavailable hyaluronic acid to support joint health
We noticed that often times, consumers were looking for collagen to help resolve joint pain. While our use of Type I and II collagens have been shown to help decrease joint pain, we took it one step further by including Mobilee®, the most bioavailable hyaluronic acid (HA) to support joint mobility. While there are a few other collagen supplements that include HA, most of them aren't especially effective. Synthetic HA aren't easily absorbed in the body and provide little benefit. Mobilee is identical to the form of HA that our bodies produce and is up to 10X more absorbable than synthetic forms available in other supplements. Rather than masking joint pain, Mobilee® has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase muscular strength, and reduce joint discomfort.
Why Pre-Collagen Supplementation
We created Pre-Collagen to bolster the effectiveness of Collagen during times of high stress. While we're sure that our collagen is the best collagen that you can buy, we wanted to create something to help prime your body for collagen to help boost its benefits on the most strenuous training days. By combining key amino acids (Proline and Lysine) with required cofactors (such as Vitamin C, Zinc and MSM) and a larger dose of Mobilee®, Pre-Collagen ensures you aren't deficient in any key vitamins and minerals which can impact how well collagen is absorbed in your body. Finally, the larger dose of Mobilee® helps support healthy joints by ensuring a normal inflammatory response.
When to take Pre-Collagen
For most times, we find that Pre-Collagen is not a required supplement. If you're supplementing with SwissRX Collagen, you should be getting 90% of what you need as part of your daily regimen. However, there are three times that we strongly recommend that our customers take Pre-Collagen:
- If you're suffering from joint pain, the additional boost of hyaluronic acid present in Pre-Collagen can help increase the lubricating properties of the synovial fluid present in your joints to decrease pain.
- During times of high physical stress (such as large training blocks) it's important to have an insurance policy against key deficiencies. Pre-Collagen taken with Collagen ensures that you aren't deficient in the most critical cofactors and precursors to collagen production. This way you can know your collagen regimen is the most effective it can be.
- When dealing with chronic injuries that don't seem to get better, Pre-Collagen can help enhance recovery. Often, chronic injuries have similar needs to times of high stress. For this reason, ensuring you don't have a key deficiency can help enhance recovery from injuries.
In short, by taking Pre-Collagen as part of your Collagen supplementation regimen, you can be sure that you're giving your body everything it requires to rebuild and stay injury free, even during the hardest training weeks.