Collagen supplements – what effect can we expect?
Let’s start with the basics of what collagen is. This supplement has been gaining popularity in the beauty industry in recent years. Collagen is the main protein (constituting even 25% to 35% of all body proteins) found in the matrix, prevailing in human connective tissue. Generally speaking, the connective tissue unites everything “into one mass”, and the collagen contained in the tissue strengthens it and maintains its shape. Therefore, collagen is a particularly important structural component of the skin and joints.
Why is collagen important for our skin?
Collagen constitutes up to 80% of the total weight of the skin, over time, the amount of collagen in the skin decreases, resulting in losing skin elasticity, moisture, skin becomes thinner, and thus the wrinkles form.
To understand the essence of making collagen supplements, let’s get to know the structure of collagen itself. The collagen protein consists of three peptide chains, and these are made up of many linked amino acids. Hydrolyzed collagen is usually produced during the production of supplements (the collagen molecule splits and produces shorter peptides / small proteins) – the most collagen supplements are made in this way. Why is it necessary to split collagen? Smaller peptides in collagen supplements are easier for our gut to absorb and are safe enough. In the skin, such peptides act as a building block for the production of collagen.
What does the research show?
Although there are still few studies investigating the efficiency of collagen supplements, studies have already shown the benefits of such supplements.
As the percentage of collagen of the subjects’ skin increased, the elasticity and density of the skin were improved, the amount of moisture was increased, the healing processes of the skin were accelerated, eternal changes in the skin were reduced and even anti-cellulite effects were observed.
One review study discussed 11 other pieces of research in which randomized subjects were taking collagen supplements. 8 of them used hydrolyzed collagen, 2 used collagen tripeptide, and 1 used collagen dipeptide (instead of the usual collagen with 3-chains, it has two). Subjects were compared with those who received a placebo. The benefits of both short-term and long-term use have been demonstrated in these studies. As the percentage of collagen of the subjects’ skin increased, the elasticity and density of the skin were improved, the amount of moisture was increased, the healing processes of the skin were accelerated, eternal changes in the skin were reduced and even anti-cellulite effects were observed.
Although the effectiveness of collagen supplements is still being studied, the current information shows collagen supplements improve skin condition, moisture, reduce perpetual skin changes, wrinkles. Moreover, collagen supplements did not cause any side effects in the studies, but of course, it is important to choose a quality product from a reliable supplier when choosing such supplements.
What collagen can we choose?
As for the origin of collagen, both animal and plant origin are possible.
Animal collagen supplements are considered to be the most effective. This type of collagen is extracted from pigs, bulls, or fish. Although we have not found any evidence to support this, in the food industry, bulls and fish collagen is considered to be higher quality than pigs, so pay attention to the origin when choosing supplements.
However, if you are against animal collagen, the good news is that there are several options for vegan collagen. Genetically modified yeast and bacteria have been used to extract vegan collagen, but such supplements are still extremely difficult to obtain. As a result, you will often find supplements called “collagen boosters” – these supplements will contain certain amino acids that will help your body produce more collagen. Usually, such supplements will have soy protein.
The author of the article is the founder of “5 steps“, Agnė
Biochemistry of collagens, laminins and elastin; Structure, Function and Biomarkers; 2016, pages 1-11.