A complete guide to understanding what is collagen and collagen supplements
Ahead, you will find a complete guide to understanding collagen starting from what is collagen to why is it important.
Every second person is talking about a collagen-based skincare product or other collagen supplements. But, what is collagen? Whether it is collagen pills, collagen water, or other collagen-based supplements, here’s to understanding what is collagen and what is its role in the body. Below, you will find a complete guide to understanding everything you must know about what is collagen, its role in the body, the benefits of collagen, and are collagen supplements worth the hype.
What is collagen?
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins that’s found in the human body. It delivers strength and structure to bones, blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, skin, as well as tendons. It also acts as an important element that makes up connective tissue and thereby assists in holding the body’s cells together while delivering strength and elasticity to the skin. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in mammals. The protein promotes the formation of connective tissues along with skin, bones, blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. That is why experts claim that collagen is very essential for a healthy aging process. While collagen is plentifully found in the human body, there are approximately 28 types of collagen.
So, why do collagen supplements exist?
With age and due to environmental effects including pollution and sun damage, collagen levels drop. This descent in collagen levels can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and saggy-looking skin. The lack of collagen can be fulfilled by synthetic collagen found in a number of topical skincare products and other kinds of collagen supplements. What is collagen can be understood in two forms, evidently collagen can be endogenous as well as exogenous-
Endogenous collagen is the collagen that the body naturally synthesizes. Natural collagen or endogenous collagen serves a number of crucial functions in the body. Lack of collagen can lead to severe health problems, including scurvy.
Exogenous collagen is synthetically manufactured. All collagen supplements are exogenous collagen. Synthetic collagen is widely used for cosmetic purposes which serve primarily by enhancing skin elasticity and wound healing.
Benefits of collagen - What does collagen do?
Collagen can be imagined as the framework for your mattress. That is because collagen works to provide structure to the tissues. When you are young, the body abundantly produces and replenished collagen. However, with age and lifestyle, the degradation continues but the process of replenishment slows down. The various lifestyle factors that affect natural collagen production include sun exposure, smoking, alcohol intake, sugar intake, or even lack of sleep. The gradual slowing of collagen production is actually pretty inevitable however with the right lifestyle and collagen supplements you can slow it down or replenish the lost collagen. If not kept in check, a lack of what is collagen can lead to various signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. So what does collagen do except keep your skin elastic and plump; let’s find out.
Collagen is a naturally occurring tough, insoluble, fibrous protein that plays a primary role in many forming the basic structures of,
- blood vessels
Apart from that, it serves as a connective tissue that connects cells to each other which means collagen is a primary component of the extracellular matrix which is a network of molecules that binds the body’s tissues together. If you have healthy collagen levels, it ensures,
- Healthy joints
- Well-protected internal organs including kidneys and others
- Plump and elastic-looking skin
- Healthful cardiovascular system
Benefits of collagen for skin
Collagen has been a buzzword in the world of skincare. In fact, every brand is promoting topical collagen supplements in the form of collagen-rich creams or collagen serums. While our body naturally produces collagen which ensures elastic and supple-looking skin. However, with age and other factors, the body’s tendency to produce collagen decreases. Collagen-based skincare plays a primary role to make up for this absence of naturally occurring collagen. Collagen promotes healthier-feeling and healthier-looking skin.
Vegan and non-vegan sources
Typically, the collagen found in skin care products and collagen supplements is derived from animal sources (mainly bovine and fish.) There are vegan sources of collagen as well which include fermented algae. Make sure you check the labels if you follow a vegan lifestyle.
What does collagen do for skin?
When applied topically, collagen works to soften as well as moisturize the skin while visibly minimizing any signs of aging right from fine lines and wrinkles. With proper collagen supply, the skin visibly looks plumper and smoother. Collagen-based skincare and collagen supplements are one of the most convenient sources of protein that deliver youthful-looking skin, however, the benefits and effects of every collagen-based product vary with their formulations and other ingredients.
How to incorporate collagen for better skin?
Now that we know what is collagen and its role in skincare, it is easy to understand that typically, it is safest to incorporate topical sources of collagen which includes night creams, day creams, and facial serums among many other products. Collagen can be incorporated into both nightly and morning skincare routines. However, if you are planning to add ingestible collagen supplements to your diet you must consult your medical health professional to ensure the right collagen dosage.
Collagen-based skincare products are generally very safe and work well with almost all other ingredients. Once you have found the right formula that suits your skin type and is particularly meant to deal with your skincare issues, all you need to do is establish a routine, because when it comes to skincare, consistency is key.
What does collagen do for bones?
Researchers have revealed collagen supplementation works wonders for postmenopausal women with low bone mineral density (BMD). The study was conducted on 102 women, who consumed 5 grams of collagen peptides every day for one whole year. The results exhibited a more prominent increase in bone mineral density (BMD) in their spines and femurs than the ones who consumed a placebo.
Another follow-up research was conducted on 31 of the same women and found that everyday consumption of 5 grams of collagen for a duration of four years demonstrated a significant increase in their bone mineral density or BMD. The study also revealed that long-term collagen supplementation can not only increase bone mineral density or BMD but also reduced the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
What is collagen? - Other benefits of collagen
Body composition: Collagen promotes body composition. A study conducted in 2019 revealed that men who took collagen supplements showed an increase in fat-free mass as compared to men who consumed a placebo. The study was meant to study the effects of collagen supplements with resistance training on the proportion of fat to non-fat in your body (body composition) in men. The study consisted of 57 men and was a twelve-week program. The results were assumed to be related to improvement in connective tissues. Another small study in 2019 claimed that collagen supplements in premenopausal women led to a higher gain in fat-free body mass and more decrease in fat mass.
Joint Pain: Since collagen is a fundamental building block of cartilage that serves to protect bones and joints, collagen supplements lead to better joint health and relieve joint pain. That is because with age the natural cartilage production reduces and collagen supplements help in cartilage replenishment. Studies have also shown relief in several other symptoms of osteoarthritis as well.
Heart Disease: Collagen supplements are also known to boost heart health. Although, there are no reliable conclusions from studies regarding what is collagen’s role in heart health. A 2017 study claims that when a set of people consistently consumed collagen-based food items for about six months, it resulted in a significant improvement in cholesterol levels and reduction of other risk factors.
Other Health Benefits: A wide variety of medical professionals recommend collagen supplements for the potential improvement of several other aspects of health like;
- Eye health
- Skin health
- Nail appearance
- Weight loss
However, there is very little literature available to prove these potential benefits.
What is collagen and collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements, also known as collagen peptides, are exogenous collagen that is broken down into a simpler form of collagen that’s easier to absorb. These supplements are usually ingestibles that work to sustain better health. Collagen supplements can be in the form of collagen powders, collagen liquids, and even collagen capsules. Liquid collagen or powders can all be both vegan and non-vegan.
What is collagen supplement?
Collagen supplements are collagen-rich supplements that are generally curated with the help of collagen from connective tissues or cartilage of mammals including cows, chickens, and fish. Typically peptides collagen is from animal sources but there are vegan sources like certain algae as well. These collagen supplements work to keep the tissue elastic, and healthy. In addition to that, it works to replenish cartilage that cushions joints. With the impact of age, our bodies slow down with the synthesis of collagen. That is precisely why collagen supplements prove to be a great source of replenishment.
The tricky part about collagen supplements is, they are not tested by the US Food and Drug Administration for safety or efficacy, so it’s pretty much up to the manufacturer to research and provide the best. This makes it extremely essential to consult your medical health provider before incorporating any collagen supplement. The goal of these manufacturers is to create collagen that is easier to break down and absorb for the human body. Collagen supplements are made by exposing natural collagen to heightened heat which breaks it down into smaller collagen pieces known as hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides, or collagen hydrolysate.
What is collagen supplement and its side effects?
Although collagen supplements can deliver probably every benefit natural collagen can provide and have a pretty safe profile, there are certain side effects when combined with other potentially harmful ingredients. For instance, certain collagen-rich dietary supplements have herbal extracts that may interact in an unfit manner. In fact, several herbs are extremely unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding people.
Also, collagen supplements are rich in biotin, which can interfere with laboratory tests for thyroid or heart-related conditions. Apart from this, collagen supplements are rich in several minerals and vitamins that can be harmful if consumed in high doses for a considerably longer period. To steer clear of the potential side effects it is wise to incorporate anything after you have read the label to understand potential risks along with a combination of other ingredients. Also, a consultation with your doctor or medical health provider can go a long way.
What is collagen and how Incorporate collagen naturally?
If your doctor does not advise you to incorporate collagen or you find it unsafe to add supplements as of now, you can always incorporate more collagen into your diet with a few simple changes and additions. Read on to understand, how to enhance collagen production through a healthy diet.
Natural collagen food sources
Collagen naturally occurs in animal protein, including meat and fish. Precisely why, you can always go for food options like bone broth, and tough cuts of meat, including brisket and pot roast. These animal-based food items are rich in connective tissue made up of collagen. When you incorporate protein into your diet, it naturally helps your body to create collagen. You can also go for plant-based protein-rich food items. Your body breaks down amino acids and uses them for collagen synthesis. Apart from that, you must also incorporate plenty of vitamin C, zinc, and copper for enhanced collagen production. Researchers have claimed phytoestrogens in soy as well as polyphenols in dark chocolate also promote collagen synthesis.
Although collagen is naturally produced by all mammals, it depletes with age. Here are a few edible collagen food sources to replenish the lost collagen naturally.
- Animal bones, skin, and ligaments, including chicken and pig.
- Seafood including fish skin and jellyfish.
- Food items are produced from animal bones including bone broth.
Apart from these direct sources of collagen, you can also consume protein-rich food to boost the natural production of protein in the body. That is because the body uses amino acids to create collagen and amino acids are building blocks of protein. These protein-rich food items that promote collagen synthesis include,
In addition to protein, the body also requires vitamin C for natural collagen synthesis and upkeep. That means eating vitamin C-rich foods can actually boost the natural collagen production of the body. Therefore, it is advised to eat food items rich in vitamin C including,
- Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
- Green veggies
- Fresh berries
What is collagen and How to prevent loss of collagen?
The loss of collagen is one of the unfortunate side effects of aging that’s inevitable. Yes, with the right diet and lifestyle age-related collagen loss can be slowed down. After all, with the right diet, one can help the body to create its own collagen efficiently. Apart from diet, it is advised to quit smoking, drinking, or avoid any other substance abuse for that matter. Also, try to avoid heavily processed sugars.
Naturally, a healthy lifestyle along with a nutrient-rich diet and refraining from smoking and heavy alcohol intake you can delay age-associated collagen loss and naturally slow down the appearance of signs of aging and even delay joint pains and several health-related issues. Apart from that, regulating diet can even reinforce collagen maintenance while delivering better skin health.
Overall, collagen is a highly important protein found in mammals, it helps in the formation of connective tissue, skin, tendon, bone, and cartilage. Along with that, it helps in structurally supporting tissues and promotes better functioning of essential bodily processes like tissue repair and even signaling between cells. Plus, it is incredibly important for the body’s upkeep. Although collagen is naturally produced by the body, the process of production slows down with age, collagen supplements are the quickest way to replenish the loss of collagen. Studies prove that healthy collagen supplements are particularly beneficial for certain improving bone mineral density (BMD) and relieving joint pain. Now that we know what is collagen, it is important to understand, with the right diet and lifestyle changes, it is possible to boost the natural collagen-making process of the body. In fact, unless recommended by a doctor, it is wise to incorporate protein-rich food to promote natural collagen synthesis. Apart from protein, it is advised to incorporate vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc in nutritious forms as a healthier and less expensive resort to collagen supplements.