If you’re like me and are always keeping an eye on what’s going on in the health and fitness world, you may have heard of the new craze: collagen peptides supplements. It seemed like all of a sudden every supplement company is promoting this new product. Collagen supplements have a bunch of benefits including skin and bone health.
I’m going to be honest, when I first heard the word collagen, I had no idea what it was and that it was the most abundant protein in my body. It is really interesting how important collagen is to our bodies. After researching about collagen, you can see why this supplement is so popular.
So what is collagen?
Collagen is derived from the Greek word “glue” since it is basically what holds your body together. It can be found in most places in your body … skin, joints, ligaments, hair, nails, tendons, cartilage, muscles, and even bones.
Now, collagen is an amino acid and the main structural protein in our body. To go a step further, collagen is primarily made of the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. An amino acid is the building block to make protein.
The collagen family actually represents about 28 different proteins in our body. Who even knew we had that many different types of protein … I didn’t and it accounts for around 30% of your total protein. As we age, our bodies start to naturally produce less collagen.
The most obvious sign of this breakdown is wrinkles and dry skin. It could also be contributing to your joint pain. On top of aging, collagen can break down because of smoking or exposure to UV light.
Where does collagen come from?
To put it simply, collagen naturally comes from animal products. If you see a vegan collagen supplement, this came from genetically modified yeast and bacteria. Otherwise, if you’re going all-natural, vegans and vegetarians should include foods rich in the amino acid glycine and proline. These are both important for our bodies to produce collagen.
Foods rich in these include soybeans, other legumes, spirulina, and agar. To get collagen from its natural sources you would need to eat beef, fish, egg yolk, pork and chicken skin, bone broth, and foods with gelatin.
Collagen can be a source of protein but a protein powder supplement will give you more grams per scoop. With that being said, the collagen supplement I use has 14 grams per scoop so that’s not bad.
Gelatin, interestingly enough, comes from collagen after it’s been cooked. Before you get your hopes up, the sugar in jell-O far outweighs any benefit you’d get from the collagen so jell-O shots shouldn’t be your collagen source. Some of these foods are in the typical diet but you can probably see why supplements are more appealing than the natural counterparts since they can be mixed into anything — hot or cold!
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements … what?
When you see the word ‘hydrolyzed’, this simply means that the collagen has been broken down so that your body can actually absorb it through your digestive system. Therefore, if the supplement isn’t hydrolyzed, it’s useless. The amino acid chains are broken down into smaller pieces when it’s hydrolyzed.
This is why you can mix collagen supplements into any liquids. Collagen peptides are just another way of saying the collagen has been through the process of hydrolysis.
A 2002 study found that your gut’s digestive enzymes and acids will naturally break down hydrolyzed collagen so it is debatable about how effective a collagen supplement is at getting to the bloodstream and providing any real benefit.
However, before you completely knock collagen supplements, there are quite a few studies where collagen supplements helped with skin elasticity and dryness, joint pain, bone, and even weight loss.
Depending on the quality of the supplement, some are going to be more effective than others so make sure you do your research and buy from a reputable company.
What exactly is in the Collagen Supplement?
If you are interested in trying a collagen supplement, I recommend talking to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor before introducing any supplement to your diet. Collagen supplements vary a ton since there are so many different types of collagen.
Roughly 80-90% of all collagen in our bodies belong to Type I, Type II, and Type III so I’m just going to focus on these types. To help break it down, here is how each type affects your body:
- Type I – the most common type of collagen in our body. About 80% of our skin is Type I. This type assist in building strong bones, teeth, skin formation for elasticity and hydration, and thick hair
- Type II – aids in the structural support in cartilage as it makes up the majority of the protein molecules in your cartilage. This type will aid the most in joint health.
- Type III – also aids with skin elasticity as well as your muscles, intestines, and blood vessels. Research has shown this type decreases at a faster rate than type I.
Most collagen supplements available contain hydrolyzed type I collagen.
This makes sense since type I seems to contain the most bang for your buck since it’s really prevalent in our bodies. Type I can be stretched which is why when we age and begin producing less collagen, we get wrinkles since the skin isn’t stretching as well.
For those of us who don’t get enough protein in our daily diet, collagen is a good source of protein. Before oral collagen supplements became so popular and widely available, you could find collagen in many anti-aging creams.
Although collagen is found in topical creams, dermatologists have found that collagen in creams helps with moisturizing temporarily but not in the production of collagen since that process is too deep in the skin. It really unlikely the cream would soak down that deep to add any benefit. The collagen molecule is too large to be absorbed by the skin.
What are some of the benefits?
Now to get into some of the benefits that people have experienced when taking a collagen supplement. Personally, I have been taking a collagen supplement for about a month and I haven’t noticed any radical differences. My skin has seemed less dry than normal, especially for the winter months.
I have an unflavored one and a chocolate-flavored one depending on what kind of smoothie I’m having that day. Other than my skin being less dry, I haven’t experienced any of the below effects but that doesn’t mean you won’t.
I’m in my upper twenties and I’ve noticed some early signs of aging and it
kinda freaked me out. Which is what the supplement companies are hoping would happen. My favorite supplement company let out a collagen peptide supplement a few months ago and I jumped on the bandwagon. I do like that the collagen really doesn’t have any flavor but it does change the texture of your drink; meaning that I can tell there something extra in there. I personally like to put it in my daily smoothie but others enjoy it in their daily cup of coffee.
But enough about me, lets dive into these benefits:
Boost Muscle Mass
After learning more about collagen, it isn’t surprising to me that the participants that experienced the most benefit were people with sarcopenia, Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass due to age.
Muscle mass does decrease for everyone as we age and the decrease in collagen is a factor. Between 1-10% of muscle tissue is made of collagen. This could help with muscle growth in everyone especially since you can get around 14 grams of protein in a serving of collagen peptides.
Specifically, collagen helps with the synthesis of the muscle protein creatine. Creatine is another popular supplement in the weight lifting world. Here is an article about it if you want to learn more. There are so many supplements out there, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? But back to collagen. It isn’t a complete protein.
To be a complete protein, it needs 9 essential amino acids; collagen has seven of the nine so the potential to help aid muscle growth is definitely there. Combined with strength training, a collagen supplement could help you gain muscle which is challenging to do, so any little bit helps!
Helps relieve Joint Pain
This one makes sense to me as well since collagen aids in the structural support of cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue between joints. Some studies have shown that collagen peptides can help lower inflammation.
The links between joint pain and collagen are actually the most completed research as research goes back to the early 90s. Some participants have claimed that collagen supplements helped reduce their symptoms of arthritis.
According to a 2009 study in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, four out of five osteoarthritis sufferers who took a daily 40 mg dose of undenatured type-II collagen saw their pain drop by an average of 26%. They experience less joint pain at rest and when walking. Type II collagen supports the integrity of your cartilage so make sure this type is definitely included in the supplement you purchase if this is the purpose of adding a collagen supplement to your diet.
Anti-aging effects for your Skin
The effects collagen has on your skin are probably the biggest selling point for collagen peptides supplements. Collagen is a major component of your skin since the majority of it is created by collagen. Taking a supplement may benefit the elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen which causes dry skin and wrinkles. Collagen supplements can basically slow down the aging process.
Surprisingly enough starting as young as our 20s, we can lose about one percent of our collagen a year. That can quickly add up! I’m not trying to freak you out, this number freaked me out a little but just think about all the people that haven’t taken collagen supplements.
Aging gracefully is something that is overlooked nowadays due to society’s standards but there’s beauty in aging as well. It also happens slowly; you don’t wake up one day with deep wrinkles, it’s like anything with our body, it takes time.
Some studies have shown that collagen supplements can reduce wrinkles because your body actually starts producing more collagen. The supplements give your body a boost and reverse the effects of aging. Probably since then, you are bringing the amount of collagen in your body back up to previous numbers before the decline.
You do have to keep taking the supplement so it’s not like a boost and you’re good to go. For example, think about it like your phone battery. You can keep charging it but once you unplug it, the battery percentage is going to decline. Luckily for collagen amounts, it doesn’t go down as fast your a phone battery.
Hopefully, this post can give you a little more information about collagen supplements before you add it to your routine.
This way you can go into it with some knowledge about what collagen is and what it is doing for your body. The good news is that there aren’t any serious side effects other than some digestive discomfort so it could be worth giving it a try if you are suffering from any of the above issues.
Also, check the ingredients if you have food allergies since some people have experienced an allergic reaction. Again talking to your doctor is the best course of action since they could help you with any of these potential side effects.
The downside, as I mentioned before, is since the decrease of collagen is linked to aging, to experience the effects of collagen, you will have to keep taking the supplement so this could be a lifetime commitment. I currently just put it in my daily smoothie so it isn’t too bad to take daily. What do you think of a collagen peptides supplement? Have you tried any and seen any benefits? Which benefits? Comment below and let me know!
Until Next Time,