Dr. Dwayne Jackson

The Vital Science Blog

Starting Living Your Best

Gelatin and Vitamin C: A preworkout amino acid cocktail to promote joint repair while you train!

New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, spring has sprung, and it’s looking like you may be in the best shape of your life this coming summer! It’s great to be motivated—but be careful! 


With sudden increases in activity, every year many fitness-oriented folks fall victim to sprains, strains, and musculoskeletal injuries that railroad progress. The best way to protect yourself from athletic injuries is to avoid overtraining and incorporate warm-ups, stretching, and cool-downs into your regular training days. Beyond that, it’s key to use a joint protection supplement to support joint health and provide prophylactic defense against joint wear and tear. Many joint supplements are designed to promote collagen resynthesis/repair, as collagen is the major structural component of tendons (which provide the link between muscles and bones), ligaments (which provide stability to joints), and cartilage (which provides a smooth ‘bearing like” surface for joints to move through). Exercise in and of itself promotes collagen incorporation into joints, ligaments, and tendons, however the risks of musculoskeletal injury are still higher in those who exercise regularly. 


Recently a team of scientists from the USA and Australia reported that consuming gelatin (a food derivative of collagen) and vitamin C preworkout increases collagen synthesis better than exercise itself. In this registered clinical trial, 8 healthy athletic male participants consumed either 5 or 15 g of a gelatin enriched with vitamin C (48 mg) drink, 1-hour prior to intense intermittent skipping exercise (6-minutes). They found that supplementation with a gelatin-vitamin C preworkout drink increased blood serum levels of amino acids associated with collagen production (i.e., glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and hydroxylysine). Subjects who took 15 g of vitamin-C enriched gelatin 1 h before exercise showed a 2-fold improvement in collagen synthesis over placebo. As well, when engineered human ligaments were treated (in vitro) with extracted blood serum from the same subjects, there was a 50% increase in ligament collagen content and improved ligament function.  


ACTION POINT: The amino acids proline and glycine are abundant in gelatin and collagen supplements. For preworkout joint protection, take in 15 g of collagen or gelatin and 50 mg of vitamin-C, 1-hour prior to training. There are also many pre-formulated supplements that contain collagen and vitamin-C in single dosing, just ensure that doses contain at least 15 g of collagen.  


Reference: Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Nov 16. pii: ajcn138594. [Epub ahead of print]

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