The quest to retain our youth has long been leveraged by purveyors of health and beauty products. The latest in the line up of “anti-ageing” health supplements is collagen, derived from what were once ‘waste products’ of the meat and seafood industry.
What we now know, is that supplementing or increasing dietary intake of this specific group of proteins which make up collagen, can lend a critical role to the repair and renewal of every structural tissue in our body by supporting our own natural collagen synthesis. This is particularly beneficial when dietary or lifestyle factors limit our rate of synthesis.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a collection of small proteins known as amino acids and peptides, which forms a three-dimensional, mesh framework for our tissues and organs giving them structure, shape, strength and resilience. It is the most abundant type of protein in our body, making up 35% of our total body composition and makes up the foundation on which our bones, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, cartilage, skin, hair and nails are built on. Without collagen in our body, we would literally be a puddle on the floor!
Factors impacting natural collagen synthesis:
Collagen is naturally produced in our body throughout our life but slows down as we age. By 40 years of age, our natural production slows by as much as 25% and by age 60, production is slowed by 50%. Furthermore, factors such as stress, nutrient insufficiency particularly of vitamin C, iron and copper, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, can decline this rate further. With regards to skin health and appearance, reduced collagen synthesis can present as sagging, wrinkles, thinness and exacerbated dryness, whilst in other tissues, it may contribute towards lowered bone density, problems with joints and ligaments, or brittle hair and nails.
How does oral collagen work?
Collagen peptides derived through diet or supplementation provides the building blocks for our own collagen synthesis. However, their presence in our system further stimulates an increase in the number and activity of the cells involved in this mechanism, I.e. Fibroblasts (found in skin and soft tissues), osteoblasts (found in bone) and chondroblasts (found in cartilage). This ultimately results in an up-regulation of cellular and tissue renewal in the required areas. Other nutrients heavily involved in the process are vitamin C, iron and copper which influence formation of the triple-helix structure of collagen strands, giving rise to the strength and resilience to our tissues.
What should we look for in a collagen supplement?
There are 28 different types of collagen in our body, but Types 1 and 3 are the most common and constitute 85% of the total collagen content in our tissues. Bovine and marine collagen peptides provide readily abundant amounts of these two types and ideally, should be sourced from reputable companies who support ethical and sustainable practices.
There are no vegetarian or vegan sources of collagen available since this particular arrangement of peptides is absent in plants; however, some manufacturers are producing plant-based formulations containing the nutritional co-factors to support your natural collagen synthesis.
Hydrolysed collagen (collagen broken down into smaller molecules via an enzymatic process) may be beneficial for anyone with malabsorption issues.
Key benefits of collagen supplementation:
We have a tremendous capacity to produce collagen at an effective rate to support growth and normal turnover of tissues during our youth. However, age, nutrient insufficiency, stress and smoking, can interrupt and decrease the process.
Taking a collagen supplement can supply a boost of relevant peptides used in the regular, healthy production of collagen. From the perspective of skin health and appearance, an internal boost in available peptides could improve the appearance of lines and furrows, improve lipid and water hydration levels within the skin layers, and improve skin thickness and density.
In addition, oral collagen intake has also been shown to:
– help correct weak or damaged nail beds
– slow down hair loss and support hair thickening
– improve skin elasticity
– assist with lean muscle production
Dosages and side effects:
Doses of 2.5 – 5g daily of hydrolysed collagen may provide visible differences in skin, hair and nail health in 8-12 weeks. Optimally, it should be consumed together with Vitamin C at a dose of 150mg daily
Side effects are extremely rare since most supplements contain the pure raw material without additional fillers or additives. If there is a known sensitivity to fish, shellfish or the animal product used in the supplement, it should be avoided. Rare digestive symptoms may include a feeling of fullness or indigestion.
For more information speak to our health professionals at The Green Dispensary Pharmacies.
- Rittie L. Cellular mechanisms of skin repair in humans and other mammals. J Cell Commun Signal. 2016 Jun; 10(2): 103–120
- Shigemura Y et al. Changes in composition and content of food-derived peptide in human blood after daily ingestion of collagen hydrolysate for 4 weeks
- Energetic Nutrition 2016. Collagen Types 1,2 and 3 – Knowing the Important Differences
- Telang PS. Vitamin C in Dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 143–146
Disclaimer: This information is intended for general advice and does not serve to address any specific health issues. For more information on anything contained within this blog, please contact us the Green Dispensary on 08 8363 7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org