Ball State University and Nabisco formed an alliance in 1998 to study the effect of a dietary supplement on joint pain. The product used in this study was not the packets of Knox gelatin sold in your grocery. Ball State's research featured Nabisco's newly created joint supplement, NutraJoint, which contains Knox gelatin. Professor David Pearson received a $32,000 grant from Nabisco to conduct this study, according to the Ball State University website. Although he stated that the study results were positive, he has not shared the study methodology and outcomes publicly, nor has he published them in any peer-reviewed journal. Consult your physician about using Knox gelatin for knee pain.
In October 1999, Nabisco submitted a notification to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that highlighted the NutraJoint supplement ingredients and product label claims. This letter listed gelatin, copper and vitamin C as the ingredients in the Knox NutraJoint Gelatine Supplement. Label claims provided in the notification stated that "gelatin provides building blocks for collagen, the chief structural protein in cartilage and bone." Nabisco also claimed, "You may start to notice results in as little as two months.”
The Ball State University’s 1998 press release states that Pearson's study used 20 athletes with chronic knee problems that caused them pain. Each of the study participants took a daily dose of the NutraJoint supplement that contains Knox gelatin. The dosage and the length of the study are not public information. The pain measurement instruments and methodology used in this study are also unknown. The number of study subjects who reported a decrease in pain is unknown, along with information on the degree of relief experienced during the study. The university’s press release does not state whether Pearson’s research compared student athletes to a control group that did not receive the supplements.
Arthritis Today points out that the Ball State study lacks peer review. It also ignores two key facts. Gelatin cannot penetrate your joints. Once you digest the gelatin, your body uses the amino acids to make proteins. These amino acids are available in a variety of foods. Knox gelatin's amino acid content only includes two essential amino acids, while complete proteins have nine.
The Ball State press release about the Knox gelatin study quotes Pearson, who says that the gelatin in the NutraJoint supplement is more concentrated than the gelatin you would eat when you prepare the Knox gelatin packets sold in retail outlets. He also noted that eating gelatin by itself is not likely to provide any benefit for people who are seeking relief from joint pain. Nabisco’s FDA notification states that the label claims that it makes for the NutraJoint supplement with Knox gelatin contain a statutory disclaimer. This statement, displayed on the package label on the Knox website, reads: "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
- Ball State University; Gelatin Found To Reduce Joint Pain In Athletes; Tony Barker; October 1998
- Current Medical Research and Opinion: 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a Dietary Supplement in Athletes with Activity-related Joint Pain
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Nabisco Notification Letter, Section 403(r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; October 1999
- Arthritis Today: Arthritis Food Myths
- Knox.com: NutraJoint Joint & Immune Formula Drink Mix