Collagen plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity of multiple body tissues and organs, including bones, skin, cartilage, and ligaments. It generally acts as a natural glue in the human body and generally gives specific tissues and organs their strength and elasticity.
As noted, collagen is the most common protein in humans, accounting for about 25-35 percent of the total protein content in the body. As you get older, your collagen reserves usually start to decline leading to age-related skin wrinkling, thinning, and dryness. It further causes bone density, cartilage, ligaments, and other connective tissue to deteriorate, significantly impacting your overall health. For this reason, low collagen reserves can contribute to atherosclerosis in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease.
In young people, the case is a little different. Their bodies can easily produce more collagen to replenish the declining reserves. They just need a supply of specific amino acids and collagen builders such as vitamin C to boost the production of this vital structural protein. Generally, vitamin C helps stimulate or promote collagen production in the presence of proline, glycine, zinc, hydroxyproline, and copper.
Older people can equally take advantage of collagen supplements to improve their skin elasticity, appearance, hydration, and overall integrity. Indeed, a recent study confirmed that taking as low as 2.5 grams of an oral collagen supplement daily resulted in better skin elasticity, surface waviness, hydration, and dermal collagen density. Thus, people experiencing poor skin health can utilize collagen supplements to boost their outcomes.
The Best Sources of Collagen
Collagen Food Sources
Collagen comes from different sources. One of the most common and easiest ways to increase collagen in your body is through food sources. Bone broth is one of the best sources of collagen. It requires boiling animal bones, ligaments, cartilage, and other connective tissue to produce a rich broth containing collagen, amino acids, glucosamine, gelatin, and essential nutrients.
Other collagen food sources include meat, egg white, fish with skin, cashews, avocados, berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, soy, tomatoes, chicken, papaya, sesame seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, oysters, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, and beans.
Some of these food sources do not directly provide collagen rather they support its production in the body, for instance, spirulina. They contain the building blocks for collagen such as glycine and proline. These food sources might also supply vitamin C, which generally promotes collagen synthesis in the body.
Collagen supplements also help boost your collagen reserves. Manufacturers of these products usually hydrolyze or break them into peptides to facilitate their uptake in the body. You can buy collagen supplements as powders, tablets, or capsules, depending on your preference. You can also conveniently obtain them online on leading eCommerce websites.
The type of collagen supplement you purchase usually depends on your objective and whether you prefer collagen peptides or collagen builders.
How Collagen Peptides Differ From Collagen Builders
Generally, collagen peptides comprise animal-based connective tissue such as fish scales, cartilage, and bovine skin. Collagen is not easily digestible in its natural form because it consists of tough connective fibers or tissue. However, collagen supplement manufacturers break down this naturally-occurring protein into smaller and easy-to-digest units known as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen currently sold in shops and stores worldwide.
By contrast, collagen builders do not have any type of collagen in them. Instead, they only contain nutrients that help the body produce more collagen.
As noted, collagen builders appear best suited for vegans, given that no plant-based collagen exists at the moment. You might also consider this option if you have allergies to animal products such as shellfish, fish, or eggs. If you determine that this is the right product for you, you can easily find it online.
Different Types of Collagen Supplements
Some supplement brands also contain different types of collagen such as eggshell, bovine, and marine collagen. Specific brands such as Left Coast Performance also take their products a notch higher and fortify them with collagen-boosting ingredients such as vitamin C, biotin, glycine, and hyaluronic acid. Thus, you can choose different varieties of collagen supplements depending on your needs or dietary beliefs.
Collagen supplements generally come in flavored or unflavored forms. Unflavored collagen peptides usually do not add any taste or odor and appear colorless. By contrast, flavored collagen supplements have natural or artificial flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, caramel, peach mango, and berry lemon.
Your choice will depend on how you intend to use this supplement. For instance, an unflavored collagen supplement may be appropriate if you plan to add it to your coffee or tea. In such a case, it is not likely to compromise the natural flavor of your beverage.
Collagen finds great use in the medical and cosmetic fields. For instance, it is applied in bone grafting and helps repair fractured or diseased bones in any part of the body. Its unique properties also make it perfect for tissue regeneration.
Collagen is also used in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. It particularly acts as dermal fillers, assisting in eliminating wrinkles and alleviating skin aging.
For burn patients, collagen is suitable for wound dressing and helps the body deposit a new collagen layer on the affected area. At the same time, it promotes capillary growth on wounded skin.
Collagen is also found in skin creams and hair care products. It helps give your skin a better glow and generally strengthens your hair.
Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen Improves Joint and Bone Health
Collagen is a key ingredient for the development and maintenance of healthy joints. Generally, this protein is a critical component of ligaments, cartilage, bones, and other connective tissue responsible for keeping your joints in good health. Therefore, you should always have an adequate supply to guarantee musculoskeletal integrity.
Collagen supplements can also improve bone density in men and postmenopausal women because they contain calcium. As a result, they can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders that develop with declining calcium reserves and increasing age.
Collagen Boosts Skin Health and Gives You a Youthful Glow
Collagen also contributes to better skin health. In particular, this protein helps maintain a well-hydrated, elastic, thick, and glowing skin. It also keeps the skin strong and confers anti-aging properties. Therefore, taking adequate collagen aids in preventing fine lines and wrinkles on your skin.
However, collagen does not just confer anti-aging benefits. It can also help treat dermatological conditions such as decubitus/pressure ulcers, cellulite, and xerosis. It achieves this objective by improving skin hydration, wound healing, skin elasticity, and dermal collagen density.
Collagen Helps with Arthritis
Collagen is a vital element of healthy joints. As a person ages, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other degenerative joint disorders might occur with a significant impact on mobility and quality of life. However, taking collagen in the form of gelatin, undenatured, or hydrolyzed collagen supplements can benefit people with arthritis. They particularly provide a good dose of collagen, helping with pain relief, joint stiffness, and swelling.
Bone broth is also a rich source of collagen. However, collagen peptides might be a better choice because they supply the body with specific amino acids that help improve joint integrity. Taking 10 mg of these collagen supplements is generally enough to confer the benefits noted above, leading to better quality life for people with arthritis.
Collagen Improves Nail Growth
The brittle nail syndrome is a significant concern among women. It generally makes your nails ragged, thin, weak, dry, and fragile. In addition, the nails become more susceptible to peeling and surface roughness. Taking collagen peptides boosts nail growth and strength. It also reduces the incidence of broken and split nails and considerably improves their overall appearance. On this note, taking collagen supplements can help keep your nails healthy.
Collagen Promotes Hair Growth
Collagen is a key ingredient for healthy hair. It provides the specific amino acids that support the formation of keratin, a protein responsible for hair growth and regeneration. In addition, collagen helps promote hair follicle growth or repair after they get damaged, significantly impacting your hair health.
Taking collagen supplements further keeps the scalp dermis intact and elastic, maintaining the health of your hair follicles. Consequently, this prevents hair loss and other problems that undermine hair growth and the overall hair health. Taking collagen supplements fortified with biotin and zinc also has an added advantage in improving hair growth and regeneration. Such supplements can help boost alopecia outcomes, given that this hair disorder is associated with biotin and zinc deficiencies.
Collagen Improves Heart and Blood Vessel Health
Collagen is a major component of blood vessels. It generally strengthens blood vessels and boosts their capacity to withstand blood pressure changes in the circulatory system. Collagen keeps blood vessels elastic and allows them to transport blood across the body with little resistance.
In addition, taking the right amount of collagen can help prevent the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques while minimizing the risk of developing arterial stenosis. It follows that having inadequate collagen in your body makes atherosclerotic plagues more susceptible to rupture, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
Side Effects of Taking Collagen Peptides
Collagen peptides or supplements appear safe when taken in the recommended quantity. However, they might cause untoward side effects in some people. For instance, collagen peptides might cause constipation and gastrointestinal bloating due to their high calcium content. Starting with a smaller dose of the supplement is initially advised to assess your tolerance to constipation. You can gradually increase the dose to the recommended intake for better outcomes.
Collagen supplements can sometimes cause heartburn, fatigue, allergies, and a bad taste in your mouth. Fatigue is often a consequence of too much calcium in the body, which means that reducing the dose taken can improve outcomes.
Collagen peptides are not likely to cause liver damage. In fact, glycine, a building block for collagen, helps relieve liver injury. Taking collagen supplements might, however, cause kidney stones in people at a high risk of this disease. Generally, consuming collagen in moderate amounts can significantly reduce this risk.
Taking Collagen While Pregnant
You can take collagen peptides while pregnant without any risks to you or your baby. These supplements can actually support growth and development throughout your pregnancy and in the postpartum period. They can supply glycine and other amino acids to the baby and help keep your tendons, joints, and skin healthy.
Tips for Taking Collagen Peptides
You should take collagen peptides consistently to see results. Taking collagen every day while keeping the intake within the recommended levels helps boost outcomes. Several studies advise that you should take 2.5-10 grams of a collagen supplement to achieve observable results. You should begin seeing favorable outcomes after at least 4 weeks but this might take longer depending on the dose and your age.
If you work out, you can safely take collagen and protein powder together to help your body recover faster. Mixing these two powders helps build your muscles and makes your bones stronger.
You can take collagen peptides or powders in smoothies, juices, soups, tea, milk, yogurt, or coffee depending on your preference. They appear highly soluble in liquid drinks and generally do not gelatinize at ambient temperatures.
Hot coffee will generally not destroy collagen protein at normal brewing temperatures. Most collagen supplements or peptides have also already undergone denaturation and hydrolysis, implying that hot liquids might not affect their structure and bioavailability.