Let’s face it, if you don’t have a sound structural system, your quality of life will not be pleasant. Too often, we (either as an industry or as an individual) focus on just one of the many areas involving a strong structural system i.e., bone health, muscle health, and connective tissue health. This focus is often fueled by one of two thoughts: A person has a problem with a specific area i.e., osteoporosis, or they are concerned with developing an issue i.e., damage to a muscle due to exercise. All of these systems are interwoven and need each other to be strong. An example would be someone with poor connective tissue may have issues with their muscle health due. Or, someone with poor muscle health may have issues with their bone density and health. For these reasons, all three areas should be considered when formulating products for the structural system.
Diving deeper into each health area, we will see some several nutraceuticals or dietary ingredients cross-over into several areas. The following is a summary of each system and some of the scientifically proven ingredients to support those areas.
While to focus for decades has been on calcium, we now know that calcium is only the tip of the iceberg regarding bone health. Other than weight baring activities, a diet high in foods with high mineral content such as greens, supplements can play a critical role in whether or not someone has sound bone structure. Let’s take a look at some of the key players.
Lack of vitamin K has been linked to osteoporosis by many studies.[i] Vitamin K provides two areas of support for bone health: Stimulates calcium reabsorption from the kidneys, and helps hold calcium in bones so it can build osteoblasts. Research has shown the interplay between our next ingredient, vitamin D, and vitamin K in osteoinduction.[ii]
Low serum magnesium levels are associated with the increased risk of fractures.[iii] New research shows that there is also an essential interplay between magnesium and vitamin D in that magnesium is required for the activation of vitamin D.[iv]
Vitamin D is crucial to bone health because it helps the body absorb calcium.[v] Vitamin D is required for several other important bone health mechanisms, such as phosphorus absorption regulation and its impact on parathyroid hormone levels.
Of these four nutrients, the newest participant would be collagen peptides. Recent research shows great promise in adding collagen peptides in improving bone mineral density and bone markers.[vi]
The topic of muscle health is rising rapidly with our aging population. For decades, the focus on muscle health revolved around sports, and now a shift is moving towards sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). Regardless of the desire for muscle health, there are several sound ingredients on which to focus:
The focus is usually on protein but what were are talking about are the amino acids that come from protein. Protein from whatever source you wish to begin with can provide the critical building blocks for muscle health and formation. This area is a tossup in it depends on what your origination source and formulation will be i.e., plant-based, animal (whey), collagen, etc. They all have sound science providing the building blocks needed for muscle health.
Magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium
These minerals are essential for the contraction and relaxation of muscle fibre. Considering that most people are magnesium deficient, it should be considered a necessary addition to muscle health formulations.
Turmeric (and other powerful inflammation fighters)
The key to repairing and protecting muscle health, especially due to physical activity, is to help support the body’s natural response to inflammation. Granted, inflammation is created in the body due to physical exertion to heal and repair, but chronic or extended periods of inflammation can be detrimental. Turmeric is listed as the header, but numerous other ingredients can be substituted here to accomplish muscle health.
The list of muscle health supplements could be endless. Others to be considered are vitamin C, selenium, omega-3s, vitamin D and HMB.
Connective Tissue Health
Collagen is the primary protein of all connective tissue in the body. Since the body does not easily digest collagen, consider incorporating one of the excellent collagen peptide products available on the market. One in particular (TENDOFORTE®) claims research in the areas of “stimulate the biosynthesis of new extracellular matrix molecules for health tendons and ligament” and “reducing the risk of injuries and rupture of ligaments and tendons.”[vii] BioCell Collagen, another collagen product, shows studies in improving joint comfort[viii] and connective tissue protection and functional recovery from exercise in healthy adults[ix].
Studies suggest that glucosamine helps to encourage cartilage matrix formation, reduces the breakdown of cartilage[x].
Chondroitin sulfate is a significant component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of many connective tissues, including cartilage, bone, skin, ligaments, and tendons[xi]. Research is still a bit questionable due to its poor absorption, yet it has shown to benefit joint health.
These nutrients play a key role in linking collagen fibres together, and this process helps to make the structure stronger. Additionally, they help to prevent collagen from breaking down.
Keep in mind that the suggestions above are just the beginning of what options are available. When formulating a solid finished product, it is imperative to consider the individual mechanisms of action and the interconnection of these ingredients to achieve the goal desired. If formulating for total body structural support, it would require a multifaceted/multi-ingredient approach. Also, consideration needs to be taken regarding the delivery method i.e., powders, tablets, capsules, etc. to guarantee consumer compliance. Without regular consumption of the proper ingredients, the desired outcome or effect will be difficult to achieve.
[i] Fusaro M, Mereu MC, Aghi A, Iervasi G, Gallieni M. Vitamin K and bone. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2017;14(2):200-206. doi:10.11138/ccmbm/2017.14.1.200
[ii] Gigante A, Brugè F, Cecconi S, Manzotti S, Littarru GP, Tiano L. Vitamin MK-7 enhances vitamin D3-induced osteogenesis in hMSCs: modulation of key effectors in mineralization and vascularization. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2015 Jun;9(6):691-701. doi: 10.1002/term.1627. Epub 2012 Oct 29. PMID: 23109511.
[iii] Kunutsor, S.K., Whitehouse, M.R., Blom, A.W. et al. Low serum magnesium levels are associated with increased risk of fractures: a long-term prospective cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol 32, 593–603 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0242-2
[iv] Uwitonze A, Razzaque M, Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2018, Vol. 118, 181-189. doi:https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2018.037
[v] NIH website, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ Vitamin D, Updated March 24, 2020, Accessed September 25, 2020
[vi] König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):97. Published 2018 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu10010097
[vii] Gelita website, https://www.gelita.com/sites/default/files/documents/2018-04/17034%20TENDOFORTE%20Folder%20A4%20%286p%29%20RZ02%20web.pdf , TENDOFORTE® For Connective strength, Accessed September 24, 2020
[viii] Schauss A, Stenehjem, J, Park J, Endres J, Clewell A, Effect of the Novel Low Molecular Weight Hydrolyzed Chicken Sternal Cartilage Extract, BioCell Collagen, on Improving Osteoarthritis-Related Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012 60 (16), 4096-4101. DOI: 10.1021/jf205295u
[ix] Lopez, H.L., Habowski, S., Sandrock, J. et al. Effects of BioCell Collagen® on connective tissue protection and functional recovery from exercise in healthy adults: a pilot study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, P48 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-S1-P48
[x] Henrotin Y, Mobasheri A, Marty M. Is there any scientific evidence for the use of glucosamine in the management of human osteoarthritis?. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012;14(1):201. Published 2012 Jan 30. doi:10.1186/ar3657
[xi] Henrotin Y, Mathy M, Sanchez C, Lambert C. Chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis: from in vitro studies to clinical recommendations. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2010;2(6):335-348. doi:10.1177/1759720X10383076