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News: June 2024

Collagen peptides found to reduce post-exercise muscle damage

close up of runners in the marathon

Whilst muscle break down and repair is a natural bodily process, and can help re-build muscles stronger, muscular damage can delay further training and hinder repair.  This can be especially problematic for athletes engaging in competitive sports. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are constantly undergoing adaptation in response to body movements, but joint discomfort can be a common issue after intense exercise.

However, a recent randomised, controlled trial[1] found that supplementing with 15 grams daily of collagen-specific proteins for 12 weeks, together with resistance training, reduced overall muscle damage. The trial carried out on 75 healthy male participants aged 18-40 years who had not exercised for more than three hours per week previously, were included in the trial. Specific blood markers were monitored, including creatine kinase which is raised when there is extensive muscle breakdown, and all showed improved levels in the first 48 hours post exercise.  This better recovery would enable people to resume training programmes after intense exercise, without inducing adverse muscle damage.

Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the body, which starts to decline from the age of 30, hence some of the reasons for the tell-tale stiffness in joints as we age.  Increasing collagen intake, even in those people who are not as active, could improve quality of life.

The importance of sleep duration in relation to risk of depression in menopausal women

Woman hugging pillow whilst sleeping in bed

Getting sufficient and restorative sleep is an essential part of our overall wellness.  Research conducted over many years has concluded that a range of health problems are associated with poor sleep.

A large recent study[2] carried out on 3,150 menopausal women with varying depression scores at outset, found depression scores were 17% higher in those women with short sleep durations. Indeed, sleeping less than 7.5 hours was associated with an increased risk of depression. However, sleeping more than 7.5 hours per night increased the risk of depression considerably.  Research has also concluded that the ‘sweet spot’ for number of hours sleeping is 7 to 8 hours and being asleep between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am to be the most beneficial.

More research will be needed to evaluate the exact mechanism involved in the body, linking shorter sleep to depression.  We do know, however, that when asleep, just like the liver, the brain detoxifies too.  This may not happen as effectively when sufficient hours of sleep are not obtained.

Diverse health benefits found from the herb, Maca

Maca plant root and powder

Maca (Lepidium meyenii), also known as Peruvian ginseng, is a biennial herbaceous plant native to the Andes Mountains, which has a rich history of traditional use for its health benefits.

Maca’s chemical composition varies due to ecotypes, growth conditions, and post-harvest processing, contributing to its intricate phytochemical profile.  As with most herbs, we still don’t fully understand them, such is their complexity.

However, a new review[3] has provided an in-depth revision and analysis of Maca’s diverse bioactive metabolites, focusing on the pharmacological properties, found in pre-clinical and clinical studies. The benefits attributed to Maca compounds, include neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory properties, immunoregulation, and antioxidant effects. Maca has also shown potential for enhancing fertility, combating fatigue, and has antitumor potential.

Clinical studies, primarily focussing on sexual health, indicate improved sexual desire, erectile function, and overall wellbeing in men. Maca also shows promise in alleviating menopausal symptoms in women and enhancing physical performance. Further research is essential to uncover the mechanisms and potential uses of Maca’s unique qualities.  It’s currently available in food supplement form and may be could be used more widely for a number of health conditions.


[1] Kevin Bischof et al. Reduction in systemic muscle stress markers after exercise-induced muscle damage following concurrent training and supplementation with specific collagen peptides – a randomised controlled trial. Front. Nutr. 25 March 2024 Volume 11 – 2024

[2] Zhang F and Cheng L. Association between sleep duration and depression in menopausal women: a population-based study. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2024 Feb 19;15:1301775. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2024.1301775

[3] Ulloa Del Carpio N, Alvarado-Corella D, Quiñones-Laveriano DM et al.  Exploring the chemical and pharmacological variability of Lepidium meyenii: a comprehensive review of the effects of maca. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2024 Feb 19;15:1360422. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2024.136042

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