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Gelatine is traditionally considered good for joints and skin, good for production of collagen etc.

Is there a vegan substitute that offers similar health benefits as gelatine? I am ideally looking for a single food or a combination of some, not a "healthy and balanced diet" answer.

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The health benefits of gelatine

In a review of available evidence for gelatines effects on joint health, the European Food Safety Authority writes that:

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that one study in physically active humans did not show an effect of collagen hydrolysate on joint discomfort, and that studies in animals and in vitro do not predict an effect of collagen hydrolysate on maintenance of joints in humans in vivo.

The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of collagen hydrolysate and maintenance of joints.

Additionally, a systematic review of getains use for treating osteoarthritis by researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Center concludes:

There is insufficient evidence to recommend the generalized use of CHs [gelatine] in daily practice for the treatment of patients with OA [osteoarthritis].

However, there are randomized controlled trials that conclude gelatine could have a positive effect. Each one concludes however that more research is needed.

  1. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain
  2. A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort
  3. Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study

Method of action

According to 2, it seems that if gelatine has an effect, it is because gelatine supplies the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis.

Ingestion of CH could therefore be supplying the amino acids for collagen synthesis and stimulating the chondrocytes to produce the collagen matrix, particularly where intake of these amino acids is limited in a low-meat diet.

The amino acids required for collagen synthesis are glycine, proline, and lysinesource. It seems likely that an alternative source of these amino acids would serve the same purpose as gelatine for the relief of joint pain.

Alternative sources

Glycine - source

  • soybeans
  • spinach
  • kale
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • pumpkin
  • banana
  • kiwi fruit
  • cucumber
  • beans

proline - source

  • cabbage
  • bamboo shoots
  • soy and soy products
  • watercress
  • asparagus
  • chives
  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • brown mushrooms

lysine - source

  • legumes
  • seitan
  • quinoa
  • amaranth
  • pistachios
  • pumpkin seeds
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Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM is a supplement that claims many of the same health benefits of gelatin. According to the National Institutes of Health, it repairs cartilage, eases the pain of connective tissues and arthritis, and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Glucosamine is commonly extracted from the hard outer shell of crabs, lobsters or shrimp shells (chitin), but there are vegetable sources available:

Product Search: vegan glucosamine chondroitin

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