- Collagen peptide supplements are the latest buzzword in health and wellness. Everyone seems to be talking about them. But what is collagen and how does it affect skin health and other benefits?
- Read on to find how it works, the different types and how you can have this wonderful supplement working for you.
Collagen is the latest buzzword in health. It’s hard to escape health and wellness discussion without mention of collagen and collagen peptides. Especially how they’re taking collagen for better skin, joints, muscles, bones and so on.
In this article, we examine what is collagen, its best sources and types as well as where to get them right here in Kenya.
Collagen is the most abundant proteins in the body, comprising three quarters of your skin (1) and a third of the protein in your body. It provides structure to skin, joints, and bones.
As Dr. Deanne Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist at Modern Dermatology in Westport, Connecticut notes: “Collagen is a protein and is one of the main building blocks of our skin. It’s also found in our bones, tendons, and ligaments.”
Think of collagen as the “glue that holds us together”.
When our collagen levels go down, we get saggy, wrinkled, dry skin, our joints hurt, our muscle mass decreases, our hair and nails lose their luster and strength, among many other similar issues. Think about that “feeling of getting old“.
There are 28 different types of collagen, however, 5 are most commonly available as supplements:
- Type 1: – made of densely packed fibers, and makes about 90% of our collagen. It provides structure to skin, connective tissue, bones, teeth as well as tendons & cartilage.
- Type 2: – this is made of loosely packed fibers, and makes up the elastic cartilage that cushions our joints.
- Type 3: – makes up skin, as well as muscles, organs and blood vessels.
- Type 5: – helps form cell surfaces and hair. It also makes pregnant woman’s placenta.
- Type 10 – this is found in joints and bones and plays a key role in the health of these structures.
Where is collagen in supplements sourced from?
- Collagen types 1 and 3 are sourced from cow hides
- Type 2 is usually sourced from chicken
- Type I, V and X from eggshell membrane collagen
Collagen sourced from marine sources is usually collagen type 1, and is usually more bioavailable and absorbable.
Collagen is the protein that provides structure to our skin, joints, bones, muscles and more. It’s available as supplements called hydrolyzed collagen peptides, the most common being type 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10.
“Our skin cells continually make new collagen to help support the structure of the skin,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist in New York.
“After the age of 30, however, collagen production and cell turnover start to slow down, contributing to the natural aging process. Plus, environmental exposures like UV light and pollution can also cause damage to collagen, leading to early wrinkling.”
Besides this, lifestyle factors contribute to collagen depletion in our bodies: “Diet, water intake, and sleep affect your levels along with the biggest culprit being the sun,” says Louise Marchesin, global head of marketing at Skinade.
“It also must be mentioned that genetics play an important part in how your skin will age.”
Specifically, the following behaviors destroy collagen:
- Eating too much sugar and refined carbs – sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself
- Smoking – smoking reduces collagen production, impairs healing of wounds and can lead to wrinkles (17)
- Too much sunshine – UV radiation has been shown to reduce collagen production (18)
As we age, our bodies make less and less collagen. Habits like smoking, too much sun exposure, taking too much sugar and refined carbs reduce the amount of collagen in our bodies.
For this reason, we need to increase our intake of collagen to replenish what the body cannot make.
You can get collagen from 2 main sources:
This includes bone broth – this is the most popular source of collagen.
Others include chicken, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, etc.
The good thing about taking collagen supplements is that the collagen is concentrated and you get the type of collagen you need.
As you can tell from the discussion above, collagen mainly benefits the skin, joints, muscles, bones, hair and nails, among others.
Here are the top benefits of collagen supplements:
Especially important is the ability of collagen peptides to stimulate the ability of the body to make its own collagen (5).
Vitamin C is required for making collagen in the body. At the very least, take vitamin C separately (such as Liposomal vitamin C) or take collagen that has vitamin C (such as Ultra-Collagen Plus Vitamin C).
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of cartilage that helps cushion our joints.
As we age and our body’s production of collagen decreases, our joints can become weak and develop osteoarthritis (6).
Bones are mostly made of collagen which gives them structure and helps keep the strong (9).
As we age and our bodies lose their ability to make collagen, our bones may become weaker (10).
Studies have shown taking collagen supplements can help keep our bones strong and prevent osteoporosis (11).
Muscles are made of 1-10% collagen, which keeps it strong and functioning properly (12).
Studies show that collagens supplements help boost muscle mass in age-related muscle loss (13).
Collagen provides structure to the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Without enough collagen, the arteries can become weak and fragile (14).
Additionally, taking collagen supplements has the following benefits:
- Hair and nails – they increase strength of nails and stimulate hair to grow longer
- Weight loss – since muscle boosts muscle mass, it can help increase the level of metabolism. This can help in weight loss.
- Gut health – collagen supplements have been used to treat leaky gut syndrome. More studies are needed in this.
- Brain health – some people claim collagen peptides can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Taking collagen has been shown to improve health of the skin, muscles, joints, and bones, as well as hair and nails among other benefits.
Depending on your goals, taking 2.5 to 15 grams a day is sufficient (17).
Powdered collagen (such as Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder) suggests taking 1-2 scoops a day. Each scoop has 10g of collagen.
A pill or capsule supplement may recommend 1–2 pieces (such as Ultra-Collagen Plus Vitamin C).
The best collagen supplement is determined by your personal preference. A powder is easy to add to your favorite drink and provides a higher dosage, whereas a pill is easier to take.
The best way is to make sure you’re getting the right amount for your needs.
This depends on your goals. Numerous studies focused on the skin, muscle, joints, bones, hair and nails. Most of these studies run for a specified amount of time.
Bear in mind that each person is different, and the amount they need will vary.
If you’re looking for specific time frames, here’s what the most current and best research suggests for results:
- Skin benefits – 1-3 months
- Muscle mass and strength – 3 months
- Joint health – 4-6 months
- Tendon support – 3-6 months
- Hair and nails – unclear. Some studies have pointed to around 24 weeks
Taking collagen is generally safe. The side effects are usually mild and include:
- Heavy stomach
These symptoms go away after a short while as your body gets used to it.
As we’ve seen, collagen is a vital protein that maintains the integrity of several organs in our bodies, and basically holds us together.
As we age, our bodies make less and less collagen. Lack of collagen in our bodies leads to problems that cause lower quality of life.
However taking collagen (such as collagen supplements) replenishes what the body does not make, and triggers the body to make its own collagen.
Which collagen do you take?