All About Collagen
Collagen has been one of the latest health and beauty trends and many people are incorporating collagen into their daily supplement regime. There are now so many different types and brands of collagen – how do you know if a collagen supplement is right for you? And how do you know which collagen supplement to choose? We’ll explore all that and more below.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body, making up approximately 30% of the body’s protein. Collagen is the main protein found in all connective tissues – it can be found in our skin, bones, joints, tendons, blood vessels, eyes, and other organs. We naturally produce collagen in special cells called fibroblasts; however, as we age, collagen production decreases. As a result, this can contribute to joint pains, arthritis, wrinkles, bone loss, and other signs and symptoms associated with aging.
Collagen can be attained through our diets; however, this has become less likely over time. When humans used to eat meat, they would consume all parts of animals. Since they would consume the skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and marrow, they would get much larger amounts of collagen. Since we no longer consume animal products in this way, we are getting much less collagen from our diets. This is one of the main reasons why collagen supplements were created and have become so popular. Collagen supplements typically come in powder form and are clear and tasteless when mixed with water. Many collagen supplements are bovine sourced, but there are also marine sources of collagen. The most effective way to obtain collagen from our diet is bone broth soups. This involves boiling the bones of chicken, beef, or turkey to extract the collagen.
There are different forms of collagen that you will find in these supplements:
Hydrolyzed Collagen – This is also know as ‘Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides’. This is a form of collagen that has been more fully broken down into shorter chains of amino acids. Breaking down the collagen in this way makes this supplement easier to dissolve and absorb. Most collagen supplements are hydrolyzed collagen.
Gelatin – Gelatin is collagen that has been cooked such that it’s broken down into smaller chains of amino acids. Gelatin is partially hydrolyzed collagen. Gelatin will ‘gel’, so it is often added to recipes that requires this ‘gelling’ action.
Collagen supplements have a wide range of uses, such as:
Joint Pain – Collagen supplementation has a high affinity for cartilage, which makes it a great option for joint pain and arthritis prevention. A study by Lugo et al. showed that collagen supplementation reduced measures of pain and stiffness and improved physical function in patients with osteoarthritis (1).
Skin Health – Studies have shown that collagen peptides can improve skin elasticity, flexibility, hydration, and firmness. As such, collagen can help to reduce wrinkles, increase skin density, reduce acne scarring, and decrease cellulite.
Bone Health – Collagen is the major component of bone mass. A recent study by Konig et al. showed that specific bioactive collagen peptides significantly increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women (2).
Intestinal Health – Collagen contains amino acids, such as glutamine, that can help to heal the intestinal lining and repair ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Collagen also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in the gut.
Detoxification – Collagen supplements contain amino acids, including glycine, which are essential for optimal liver detoxification.
Hair Growth – Collagen supplies us with proline, an amino acid that increases keratin production. Collagen also helps to reduce oxidative stress and promotes a healthier scalp to prevent hair loss.
When you’re choosing a collagen supplement, it should be clear and tasteless when dissolved in water. Make sure it does not contain any fillers or additives. Your collagen supplement should also be from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. You should also choose a collagen supplement that contains ‘collagen hydrolysate’ or ‘hydrolyzed collagen peptides’, as this will be better absorbed and utilized by the body.
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.B.Sc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor
16655 Yonge St., Newmarket, ON
905-898-1844 ext. 135
1) Lugo J, et al. Efficacy And Tolerability Of An Undenatured Type II Collagen Supplement In Modulating Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms: A Multi-Center Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrition Journal 2016; 15 (14).
2) Konig D, et al. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women – A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients 2018; 10 (97).