Here's Why You Should Be Drinking Collagen
(10 minute read)
The wellness community has their eyes on a new health and anti-ageing trend: drinking collagen. Collagen is a $4Bil industry and the protein substance that is referred to as the “glue” that holds our bodies together. We have an abundance of it. It makes up about 25 percent of our body mass and can be found in bones, ligaments, tendons, hair, nails, muscle, connective tissue, organs and blood vessels. An astonishing 70 to 80 percent of our skin also consists of collagen, which is what gives it its full and plump look. Unfortunately the body’s natural cell turnover and supply of collagen tends to decrease from 25 as we age. So, in come the supplements to make up for any potential deficiency.
But, does drinking collagen benefit our bodies in the ways claims suggest?
Food-derived collagen is much too large to be absorbed effectively by the intestine. Although bone broth soups and bone-in, skin-on meats are excellent sources of collagen protein, they provide very little usable collagen, most of which never reaches the bloodstream. Instead, it is better to find a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, like Vitalge’s Collagen Powder, which has been engineered for better absorption. Studies show that over 90 percent of hydrolyzed collagen is able to cross the intestinal barrier and reach the bloodstream. So, if you want results, we highly recommend our collagen supplements.
What is Collagen?
Drinking collagen is nothing new and humans have been consuming it for centuries. You’ve probably been drinking Collagen all your life too. It’s often used as a thickener for fruit gelatin and puddings (think: Jelly) and in cakes, yogurt, marshmallows, ice cream, soup, bone broth and even vitamins as a coating and for capsules. As with any protein, collagen is made of amino acids. There are 28 known types of collagen, but only seven types are important to human health (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and X). Most collagen supplements come from these seven types and most importantly includes collagen Type I, II and III which benefit structures inside the human body that deteriorate with age. Collagen types IV, V, VI and X are not directly linked to having primary anti-ageing or beneficial longevity benefits.
- Collagen Type I – May minimise fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, support the bone matrix (36% of bone is made up of collagen Type I and III), correct weak or damaged nail beds, thicken fine hair, slows hair loss, improve circulation, promote glycine production which builds leans muscle and helps burn fat during sleep. Origin: Marine, Porcine, Bovine
- Collagen Type II – Makes up 50-60% of protein in cartilage and 85-90% of collagen in articular cartilage. May reduce popping knees, may support back, jaw and joints and includes glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Origin: Bovine
- Collagen Type III – Is found in large quantities in your intestines, muscles, blood vessels and the uterus. It’s most often used with Type I collagen for gut healing and to improve skin elasticity and hydration. Origin: Porcine, Bovine
- Collagen Type IV – This less common type of collagen aids in the filtration of the kidneys and other organs. Type IV collagen exists naturally as building blocks in different layers of the skin. These layers of skin often surround our muscles, organs, and fat cells.
- Collagen Type V – Is a fiber-like collagen found in some layers of skin, hair, and most importantly the tissue of the placenta. Like some other types of collagen, Type V can be found in collagen fibrils – meaning long, very thin collagen fibers.
- Collagen Type VI – Hasn’t been as heavily researched as the first five types of collagen. But type VI collagen has been linked to hair loss therapy and might help fill in those bald spots.
- Collagen Type X – Is a network-forming collagen found in cartilage. Type X seems to help with the process of calcification (when calcium builds up in tissues and organs). It seems to be a reliable marker for some kinds of new bone growth. Type X levels are often linked with type II levels, though, so it is seldom singled out.
There are three key benefits of collagen supplements. First, collagen is a clean, paleo-friendly protein source that supplies 18 amino acids, including one that isn’t found in any other dietary protein: hydroxyproline. “Hydroxyproline is what makes collagen so important and so magical. Your body uses the amino acid to produce more new collagen on its own—so you get some serious payoff for your supplement habit. Second, collagen is beloved for its skin benefits for good reason. Studies have shown that ingestible collagen is able to integrate directly into the fabric of our skin. Ingestible collagen improves skin hydration, elasticity and plumpness and helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Third, collagen is literally what holds our bodies together, so taking care of that bond is obviously pretty beneficial. Ingestible collagen can increase the density of this collagen matrix throughout the inner body, helping to reinforce and strengthen our muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. That’s good news for elevating your workouts, as well as generally supporting your mobility as your body ages.
What are collagen peptides?
Collagen peptides are small chains of collagen protein that have been broken down (“hydrolyzed” – a gentle enzymatic process that breaks the protein into smaller, more uniform peptide fragments) from larger collagen protein chains. The difference between peptides and proteins is that peptides are much more easily absorbed. Peptides generally do the same thing as whole proteins. Specifically, the body uses proteins or the smaller peptide chains to make different types of protein structures in your body. This includes tissues (like skin, organs and protein found in bone), hormones (like testosterone, estrogen and insulin), enzymes (like proteases that digest protein and lipases that digest fat) and even proteins found in the composition of your blood.
Why do you need to supplement your Collagen?
In a word: “ageing”. Unfortunately there is an enzyme called collagenase that eats away and depletes your naturally produced collagen bonds leading to a loss in elasticity, wrinkles, fine lines and sagging. From age 25 we loose collagen at a rate of +/-0,5% per year. By the time we are 40 we have already lost 25% of our collagen and at age 60 we have depleted as much as 50%. While drinking collagen will not turn you into the next Benjamin Button, supplementing with collagen will help improve skin plumpness, skin and muscle tone, reduce wrinkles, grease joints and ligaments and help stimulate the body in the reproduction of its own collagen.
Beware though, not all collagen supplements are made equal. Collagen from China may suit your pocket, but are inferior in quality and are not absorbed as readily as products from more tightly regulated countries. Three easy ways to tell a bad collagen supplement from a good one is:
- Colour, smell and taste – a premium collagen should be almost white, practically odourless and be palatable with just water. Evaluating colour and taste is the easiest way to find the best brands—especially since the aisles at your health food stores are getting more and more crowded.
- Dosage – since collagen is already naturally produced in your body adding a collagen supplement to your diet shouldn’t make you feel weird or cause any gut problems. You shouldn’t have to take scoop after scoop of it either. Up to 10 grams a day is enough to see a difference in your skin. So, if a company is pushing a much bigger dose at you, it’s a red flag.
- Cost – look for products with a bigger price tag. These products are typically science-backed. So many companies say their collagen is science-based, but when you look at their research, you see they’re just applying the uses of collagen in general and not their specific product.
What does the research say?
While more research is needed, some early studies do point to possible benefits, such as improved skin elasticity and reduced joint pain. One small recent study linked oral collagen peptide supplements to improved nail growth and texture; and a meta-analysis early in 2019 on different types of supplements taken for osteoarthritis found that collagen had medium-term pain reduction effects. In a study from 2016, oral collagen peptide supplements increased skin hydration and increased collagen density in the dermis after four weeks. There may be some nutritional benefits, too. One serving of collagen powder provides some protein (up to 18 grams per two scoops) so, if you’re falling short it can be an easy way to sneak more in (although not as much as Whey powder which has +/-40 grams per 2 scoops).
While supplements are a great way to stand in for a shortfall in your diet, no supplement can be used as a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. To see real and lasting improvements in your health, longevity and vitality you need to consume enough veggies and fruit, healthy fats and limit foods that fuel inflammation, such as sweets and processed products and as always, it’s critical to limit your exposure to the sun, sleep enough and drink plenty of water.
To get our complete list of smart-health, anti-ageing and life extension food and drink suggestions, download our FREE longevity eBook, now with mouth-watering recipes HERE.