Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and is the building blocks for skin, bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, and many other connective tissue structures. Currently 28 different types of collagen have been identified, there are different types of collagen within the human body which serve different purposes depending on their structure.
The 3 main types of collagen within the body are:
Type 1 collagen: integumentary
system: hair, skin, and nails.
Type 2 collagen: connective tissues: joints, ligaments, and cartilage.
Type 3 collagen: muscle fibers and organs: liver, lungs, and kidney.
Hydrolyzed collagen differs from collagen produced and stored in the body as the proteins go through a process called ‘hydrolysis’ where they are broken down into their smaller building blocks called amino acids or collagen peptides. Different types of hydrolysis results in different amino acid arrangements, and this is how hydrolyzed collagen products can be used for different uses within the body.
Sources of Collagen
There are two main sources of collagen, marine collagen and bovine collagen. Marine sources of collagen have advantages over other animal sources such as bovine, as they have greater absorption, less contaminations such as toxins, and lower inflammatory effects.
How Does Hydrolyzed Collagen Work?
Hydrolyzed collagen works in three ways. Firstly, it provides the body with amino acids which are the building blocks of collage. Secondly hydrolyzed collagen stimulates the body’s synthesis of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid by increasing the activity of fibroblasts, a cell in connective tissue which produces collagen. Lastly, it inhibits enzymes called ‘metalloproteinases’ that breaks down the body’s own collagen.
Skin Health and Hydration
One of the most significant reasons for hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is to improve skin health as the amount of collagen within the skin can decrease due to ageing and exposure to the sun. Several studies have shown the positive effects that hydrolyzed collagen can have. 5g of marine collagen (type 1) taken for 6 week showed improvement in the skin’s moisture content in winter, as well as smoother skin with fewer wrinkles, and less roughness.
Another study revealed that 2.5g of Verisol, a specific type of bioactive collagen peptides (types 1 and 3), taken once daily for 8 weeks showed a significant reduction in eye wrinkle volume, and significantly higher amount of procollagen type I. After 24 weeks, Verisol increased nail growth by 12% and decreased the frequency of broken nails by 42%, while also improving the appearance of nails.
Food as Medicine
Collagen formation requires amino acids, particularly arginine and glutamine, vitamin C and the trace mineral zinc while vitamin A, vitamin C,and vitamin E, and zinc, all play important roles in the maintenance of healthy skin. In conjunction to supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen, eating a diet rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin C,and vitamin E, and zinc can provide the body with all of the building blocks and co-factors involved with healthy collagen and skin formation.
How to Prevent Pre-Mature Collagen Loss:
- Reduce added sugar and refined carbohydrate intake
- Avoid excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation as it can reduce collagen production
- Stop smoking as this can also reduce collagen product and promote wrinkles
- Add to morning coffee or coffee alternatives
- Add to smoothies
- Add to iced herbal teas
- Add to overnight oats or porridge
- Add to baked goods
- Add to soups
While it is debated whether hydrolyzed collagen be added to hot liquids, there are no clinical trials which directly compared the effectiveness of collagen peptides added to hot or cold liquids. One study demonstrated significant improvements in skin moisture, skin elasticity, and skin texture when collagen peptides were added to hot milk or coffee.
Things to Remember:
While collagen is deemed as safe with minimal adverse effects, it is not a complete protein and should not be used as a meal replacement, or as your only source of protein.
Lesley O’Connor, BHSc is a certified senior herbalist at Finlandia’s own herbal dispensary. Lesley has a special interest in women’s health, especially postpartum care, and believes that all women should have access to emotional, physical and social support during the postnatal period.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. Please seek medical advice and treatment in case of illness. If you are pregnant or suffer from any illness, please seek advice from your healthcare provider regarding these or any supplements and herbs you may want to take.