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Benefits of drinking collagen

Everything You Need to Know About Collagen

Richard Fletcher
Health blogger and Teaologists founder

“Zest is the secret of all beauty.
There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.”

- Christian Dior


The best nutrition comes from nature, no matter what marketing departments attempt to tell us. One key area of nutrition is protein; specifically how we can consume and use proteins effectively to improve our overall health.


One particular form of protein is collagen. Collagen is a natural, easily digestible and highly bioactive form of protein produced from bovine, porcine, chicken or marine cells. It is a highly effective form of protein and specially used to improve the strength of bones and health and appearance of hair, teeth, nails and skin.

There’s a number of technical words associated with collagen, the definitions of which are:

  • Peptides - Peptides are chains of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins in the skin. They are able to penetrate the top layer of our skin and send signals to our cells to let them know how to function.
  • Protein - Muscles contain a lot of protein. When protein is digested, it is broken down into amino acids. These amino acids can then be used to build new protein. Proteins form an important part in foods like milk, eggs, meat, fish, beans, and nuts and pulses.
  • Amino Acid - Amino acids bond together to make long chains. Those long chains of amino acids are also called proteins.
  • Hydrolysis - Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction or process where a chemical compound reacts with water. This is the type of reaction that is used to break down polymers into many smaller units.
  • Hydrolysed protein - This is a protein that has been hydrolysed or broken down into its component amino acids.

Here’s the technical bit; collagen peptides are comprised of three different polypeptide chains which are wrapped around one another to build triple-helical macromolecules - a one-of-a-kind amino acid sequence. 

This sequence is extremely important for the collagen to assemble the fibrils that would go on to form fibres and provide extreme structural integrity for your conjunctive tissues.

 

What this means to you, is that collagen peptides are an essential protein ingredient for the body to maintain joint, teeth and hair and skin wellness.


What are the different forms of collagen?

Perhaps you’ve come across collagen supplements or maybe a form of gelatin to help improve your skin health, condition your hair or give your nails a natural lustre. There are different types of collagen such as Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. These contain different proteins, all of which have a role to play in the functioning of the body and are explained as follows:


Type I collagen


As with all other collagens, type 1 collagen forms a triple helix which is made up of three strands. Each strand is about 300 nanometers long and contains 1050 amino acids. Hydrogen exists between the amino acids and the strands, holding them together and increasing the strength of the fibre massively.


Type I collagen is extremely strong and is the primary component of tendons. It also helps reinforce bones.


Type II collagen


This type of collagen is the most important protein present in cartilage. Cartilage is the strong connective tissue which exists in the ears, nose, and several joints in the body. They give cartilage strength and resilience.


Type II fibrils are usually smaller in size than their type I counterparts. Type II collagen is produced by the non-cellular matrix of cartilage.

Type III collagen


Whilst it’s not as strong as type I collagen, more than 90% of the body is made up of Type I and III collagen. These contain proteins like proline, hydroxyproline, alanine and glycine.  Collagen type III is commonly found in arterial walls, intestines and of course, the skin. It also forms triple helices which have alot of strength as well. This collagen type is notable for its ability to seal up damaged skin. The body produces this type of collagen faster than any other type of collagen. That’s why, when a wound has time to heal, the body replaces type III collagen with type I, which then goes on to form scar tissue.

The body’s collagen production is at its peak in the mid 20’s but soon after that, it starts to deplete. As a result, our skin becomes less firm, thinner, develop wrinkles, deep creases and sagginess.

To the modern consumer, it’s no secret that healthy collagen levels can give youthful skin. And the best way to maintain healthy collagen levels is to protect the collagen that already exists in the body. This can be done by avoiding sun exposure and consuming collagen in any of the aforementioned forms. Marketed as an anti-ageing product, collagen formulas have been getting a lot of attention in the beauty industry. Women in Japan have been drinking liquid collagen for quite a while to get firm, smooth, youthful skin. But European and Americans have recently become aware of the benefits of collagen.


Collagen supplements and beauty products come in forms like powder, liquid, tablets, capsules, soft chewables etc. The supplements are typically made of animal extract, derived from chicken, cow, pig or fish. Fish extract collagen is considered to be the best because apparently, the body can absorb it better, due to its minimal molecular weight.

Collagen helps to improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness.

Collagen supplements with type I and III may:

  • Improve skin elasticity
  • Reduce wrinkles and fine lines
  • Reduce hair loss and increase hair volume
  • Provide support to the bone matrix
  • Heal nail bed damage
  • Boost glycine production and help build the body better lean muscles
  • Help burn fat during sleep

Type II collagen supplements may:

  • Boost the protein content in cartilage
  • Boost the protein content in articular cartilage
  • Reduce popping knees
  • May strengthen joints, back and jaw

 

The amount of time it takes for someone to actually see the benefits of collagen supplements may vary. For most people, results start to show within a few weeks of consumption, whilst for some, it may take months.

Bear in mind that not all collagen supplements are created equal. If your collagen supplement is not properly absorbed by your body, it won’t yield any results.

What makes collagen different from other proteins?

Collagen is a naturally-occurring, skin-friendly protein that is used by hundreds of people to combat the signs of ageing. Certain cells in the body such as fibroblasts produce collagen proteins in the form of procollagen. When the procollagen is secreted by the cell, it creates active collagen, which binds together to form fibrils.

Collagen is a complex molecule, which the human body cannot really absorb in its natural state. It’s basically too large to be absorbed into the skin from lotions etc. and because of the same reason, even the stomach can’t really break it down easily. That’s why it is always being modified by cosmetics and health supplement brands to make it more absorbable, which leads to the various different forms of supplements and cosmetic products you may have seen on the market.

With that said, let’s move on to you. What do you think about collagen? Have you ever taken it? We’d love to hear it from you. 



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