Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, especially type 1 collagen. It is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. The benefits of collagen are very compelling; this protein gives our skin strength and elasticity, while also improving the regeneration of dead skin cells. When it comes to our joints and tendons, it is is the kind of “glue” that helps the body hold itself together.
As we age, our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down. We can feel the signs of aging that come with this degenerative process, such as wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pain due to weakened or diminished cartilage. In addition other poor lifestyles – such as high sugar diets, smoking and high sun exposure – also deplete the body of collagen.
Collagen deficiency due to genetic defects has been found to be one of the most common causes of disease, inadequate intake of collagen-rich foods, and nutritional deficiencies that affect the synthesis of collagen in the body. But thankfully, collagen supplementation can help the body make up for the deficiency.
There is a lot of hype about hydrolyzed collagen peptides in the health and fitness field these days, and there is a reason why collagen peptides are slowly gaining popularity. Collagen peptides contain the exact same amino acids and nutrients as collagen, but undergo a process called hydrolysis, which breaks them down into shorter protein chains.
Not only does hydrolyzed collagen dissolve in hot or cold water, but it is also more easily broken down and digested by your stomach. It also has a higher bioavailability and is more readily absorbed into the bloodstream than regular collagen, giving you more bang for your buck in terms of nutrition. Best of all, it has the same collagen peptide benefits as collagen, which means it can help improve skin and hair, relieve joint pain, and optimize gut health.
Often referred to as a “complex protein”, it is not surprising that collagen contains up to 19 different amino acids. These amino acids include a mix of non-essential and essential types. Supplementing collagen is a particularly good way to get more amino acids, such as arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline.
Collagen consists of three chains that are wound together in a tight triple helix. Each chain is over 1400 amino acids long!
Proline and glycine are the main types of amino acids found in the collagen chain. Proline and glycine are two important amino acids that are not abundant in animal meat, from which most people who eat a “Western diet” get most of their protein. This means that people’s diets are deficient in these amino acids.
For the following reasons, the “non-essential” amino acids are actually very important – so don’t let the name fool you Under normal circumstances, they are produced by your body.
However, when you are sick, under a lot of physical or emotional stress, or otherwise unhealthy, your body may not be able to produce enough of these amino acids on its own. At that point, the body needs help from external sources (primarily your diet or supplements) to get enough.
The highest percentage of amino acids found in collagen, along with some of their key benefits, include.
Proline makes up almost 15% of collagen. Proline and glycine, in particular, play an important role in making sure your body runs smoothly. Proline helps protect the integrity of blood vessels, improves joint health, and has a variety of cardiovascular benefits.
About one-third of the protein found in collagen is glycine. Although it is the smallest amino acid in terms of size, glycine has a big impact. To ensure that our cells function properly, glycine helps build healthy DNA strands. It is also one of the three amino acids that form creatine, which promotes healthy muscle growth and improves energy production during workouts.
Glutamine is considered one of the most important and abundant amino acids in the body, and it is produced both in our muscles and from food. Studies have shown that glutamine is beneficial in preventing anxiety, stress, sleep disorders/insomnia, poor concentration, poor digestive health, weakened immune system and low energy. According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it has been shown to have a positive impact on growth hormone production and can improve aspects of mental health, such as helping to release GABA and promoting feelings of “inner peace and tranquility”. Glutamine’s high production of nitrogen also aids in wound healing and prevents muscle atrophy and joint pain.
Arginine (also commonly referred to as L-arginine) is broken down in the body into nitric oxide, an important compound that promotes arterial and heart health. Arginine has also been shown to improve blood circulation, help strengthen the immune system, and have a positive effect on male libido.
When it comes to the sources of collagen we get from our diet, the main foods that are very high in protein are beef, chicken, fish and eggshell membranes. Here are the differences about these collagen proteins and the benefits for us.
Bovine collagen comes from cattle, specifically from the skin, bones and muscles of cattle. It consists mainly of type 1 and type 3 collagen, which is a good choice considering that these are the most abundant types created and found in the human body. It provides an abundance of glycine and proline and is therefore useful for creatine production, muscle building and helping the body to make its own collagen.
The most abundant type of collagen in chicken collagen is type 2, which is best suited for building cartilage. This makes it beneficial for joint health, especially since this source also provides chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate – both of which have anti-aging properties. Most supplements that contain collagen typically use chicken collagen and provide type 2.
Collagen derived from fish has been found to be readily absorbed and provides primarily type 1 collagen, which includes the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Because type 1 collagen can be found throughout the body, eating more fish collagen is beneficial for joints, skin, vital organs, blood vessels, digestion and bones. Hydroxyproline is an important component of the collagen triple helix and lower levels are associated with joint degeneration and therefore with the symptoms/signs of aging. Hydroxyproline is required for collagen stability and is produced by modifying the normal proline after the collagen chain is established. This reaction also requires vitamin C (to assist in adding oxygen), which is why vitamin C deficiency can lead to abnormal collagen levels.
Eggshell membrane collagen
Egg collagen is found in the egg shell and egg white and contains mainly type 1 collagen. It also has type 3, type 4 and type 10, but by far the most type 1, just like in the human body (type 1 is about 100 times more abundant than type 4). It provides glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and various amino acids that are beneficial for building connective tissue, wound healing, building muscle mass and reducing pain/stiffness.
So, do we necessarily need collagen supplements to ensure that we are getting enough collagen in our diet? In other words, are collagen supplements effective? The answer to both of these questions is yes.
When it comes to choosing a collagen supplement, you’ll want to consider which form is best for you, such as a powder or capsule, and which type of collagen is best for your needs. Some supplements may contain only one or two types of collagen, while other collagen products may offer a blend of several different types.
Because of their shorter chain length, versatility and high bioavailability, collagen peptides are a good choice if you want to start supplementing your diet with collagen. Look for terms like “collagen peptides,” “collagen hydrolysate,” or “hydrolyzed collagen” on the ingredient label of your supplement to make sure you’re getting the real deal.
How to use
The top ways to consume more collagen include.
Making or drinking real bone broth.
Use a protein powder made from bone broth in recipes. You can drink the bone broth on its own or use it in a variety of sweet and savory recipes, depending on the type of product.
Take collagen supplements. Collagen supplements can often be found to hydrolyze collagen, which helps form new collagen – these may take the form of collagen powder or collagen pills. When you hydrolyze collagen, collagen peptides become bioavailable
Finally, eating a well-rounded diet helps to increase the absorption of the collagen peptides you consume.
Our ancestors ate a fair amount of collagen as a natural way of life because the early traditional diet included a whole animal diet. Simply put, they ate many of the animal parts such as skin, tendons and ligaments that we now typically avoid or discard.
Fortunately, it’s becoming easier and easier to “go back to basics”. One of my favorite ways to increase collagen consumption is to make homemade bone broth, like my chicken bone broth recipe, or find some made from beef. It’s a healthy, delicious and cost-effective way to use animal parts that can’t be consumed directly – no waste here!” . Bone broth can be great for you, too. When these inedible animal parts are simmered for hours or days, they release collagen in an easily absorbed broth.
Collagen supplements, such as collagen powder, are another easy way to increase your collagen intake. Make sure your powder comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows (no antibiotics or chemicals). Collagen supplements can be blended into smoothies, soups, or even mixed into baked goods to provide the health benefits of collagen without adding any flavor to your favorite meals.
Collagen and gelatin
Curious if collagen is different from gelatin and how it differs from other proteins already found inside the body? You may have heard collagen and gelatin mentioned in the same breath. This is because gelatin is derived from collagen – when collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin.
This is a good example. This process can be found in bone broth: the bones contain collagen, which slowly breaks down into gelatin as the bones are simmered in the broth over the course of one to two days of cooking.
Gelatin was actually one of the first foods used for medical purposes in ancient China; our ancestors recognized early on that food is medicine! Gelatin is the best choice for people with food poisoning. Gelatin is great for people who have food allergies or sensitivities. It can even help their bodies process hard-to-digest foods better over time and help repair parts of the digestive tract.
As a rich source of gelatin, collagen sources like bone broth can promote mucosal healing, which means improved nutrient absorption and a reduced risk of leaky gut (particles leaking out of the intestine to places they shouldn’t be). In other words, gelatin is full of the same good stuff as collagen, just in a different form.
Fortunately, any negative collagen side effects are rare. Most people who experience negative side effects from collagen either exceed the recommended dose or have a pre-existing allergy.
Check the source of the collagen on the supplement bottle. If you are allergic to fish and the product uses fish collagen, then it is obviously to be avoided. If the supplement only lists the type of collagen, it is important to know that type 2 collagen is usually chicken, while types 1 and 3 may be bovine, fish or egg whites. If you are allergic to any of these proteins, then steer clear.
Not really a side effect of collagen powder, but some users register complaints about what may be a bad aftertaste of the powder or pills. This bad taste will go away in a few minutes, but can usually be avoided altogether by taking the powder in a smoothie.
There are many factors that support the formation and use of collagen in the body – such as vitamin C, manganese, copper, proline and foods high in anthocyanins (such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries).
In order for collagen to be activated in the body, you always want to include a source of amino acids and vitamin C when taking collagen supplements (such as collagen pills) if possible, or make sure your supplement already includes these activated nutrients to ensure absorption and usefulness.
Make sure you choose a hydrolyzed collagen product, such as collagen peptides, to optimize the bioavailability and digestibility of your supplement.
While many creams and powders claim to revitalize the skin by adding collagen, the molecules in these topical products are often too large for your skin to truly absorb. With bone broths and supplements, you will improve your body from the inside out. In other words, you can save your money when you apply collagen directly to your skin.
Finally, be aware that certain foods – especially those high in amino acids – promote collagen growth more than others. Animal products, such as eggs, poultry, fish and milk, can help boost collagen formation. But vegetarians, fear not! You can use collagen in your recipes, too. You can also use collagen in recipes for your family or children, such as homemade healthy jellies or all-natural fruit snacks.