Why Buy Collagen Supplements?
The world today is obsessed with flawless skin, thanks to the gorgeous movie stars and high fashion models. Truth be told, the beauty industry is the fastest-growing sector in the world as people strive to achieve the perfect looking, youthful skin. You will find people heaping products upon products on their skin in order to look flawless. But is flawless looking skin the same as healthy skin?
Well, for starters, healthy skin is not always flawless. Every once in a while, the skin may experience some issues due to changes in the body or the environment. When this happens, it doesn’t mean that your skin is not healthy; it only means that it is trying to cope with the present changes. So go easy on yourself.
But how do you know if your skin is really healthy and not just a “good skin” phase? Well, here are a few things you can use to determine whether your skin needs the attention of a professional or you are good to go.
• Even-toned skin is the first indicator of healthy skin. While discoloration occurs with age due to sun damage, consistent color shows youthfulness and health. If you see any blotches, spots or discolorations, you will need to start taking better care of your skin.
• Healthy skin feels and looks smooth. While essentially the skin is not glass smooth and there are indeed some peaks formed by hair follicles, the general appearance should be smooth. Uneven texture caused by acne, bumps, black/white heads, scars and wrinkles could be sign of unhealthy skin.
• Healthy skin is supple and well hydrated. You have probably heard, time and again, that drinking about 8 gasses of water helps keep the body organs healthy, skin being one of them. If your skin is visibly dry and flaky or scaly, then you may need to take up urgent corrective measures. You can start by drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Additionally, try exfoliating at least once a week to get rid of dead skin cells.
• Do you regularly feel sensations on your face/skin? Sensations such as tightness, dryness, discomfort, itchiness, burning or stinging are not common when the skin is healthy. In most cases, such sensations can be caused by cleaning products that are too harsh on the skin. In other cases, it could be an indication of an allergic reaction to a dietary substance or another skin care product. When you notice these sensations, check the skin care products you are using. Make sure the ingredient list doesn’t contain something you are allergic to, or substances that are on the watch list for skin irritants.
Now, while healthy skin is not always free of flaws, there are countless ways that you can still achieve perfection. We have always heard of dietary recommendations for healthy skin, hair, nails, bones and general body function. We have also heard of supplements that act as elixirs of unending youth. One such supplement is collagen.
Collagen; the fountain of youth?
First things first, what is this magic collagen that everyone is praising? Well, it is the most abundant protein, making up to a third of the protein composition in the human body! Royal Jelly is a precursor to collagen formation in the body. The Phyllanthus-Emblica is also a precursor to collagen synthesis in the body.
Collagen forms a vital part in the composition of the skin, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Collagen is also found in several other body parts including the corneas, blood vessels, and teeth. It acts like the adhesive that holds these body parts together to form a functional unit.
Types of Collagen
Yes, there are several types of collagen found throughout the body, 4 of which are considered main.
• Type I collagen forms up to 90% of the collagen composition in the body. It is made of compacted fibers, densely packed, to give structure to bones, skin, teeth, tendons, connective tissue and fibrous cartilage.
• Type II collagen is composed of loosely packed fibers that perfectly cushions joints and is abundant in elastic cartilage
• Type III collagen supports body structures such as arteries, organs and muscles
• Type IV collagen is found in the skin’s layers, and its purpose is to help with filtration
The body’s ability to produce adequate high-quality collagen decreases with age. When the skin loses its firmness, it is an early warning that your body has less collagen than it requires. This is the most common sign. You will also realize that cartilage becomes weak when the collagen levels in the body reduce.
Before You Take Collagen Supplements
Here’s the thing; if you wish to naturally increase the amount of collagen in your body, there are a few things you can do. For starters, you can adjust your diet and lifestyle. Here are a few dietary items that help in the production of high-quality collagen.
• Vitamin C helps collagen absorption, and is abundant in strawberries, citrus fruits and bell peppers
• Proline which is abundant in wheat germ, egg whites, cabbage, dairy, mushrooms and asparagus
• Glycine which is abundant in chicken and pork skin, gelatin and animal proteins
• Copper which can be found in sesame seeds, cashews, organ meats, cocoa powder and lentils
• Iron which is abundant in green leafy vegetables
• Omega 3 oils that are found in oily fish
Generally, a high protein diet helps in the production of collagen in the body. The aforementioned dietary items are vital in the production of this essential protein. The trick is to tweak your diet to include high-quality proteins.
It is important to note that there are some dietary items that may deteriorate collagen production in the body. If you want to keep up your collagen levels, here are some items you should avoid.
• Refined sugars and carbs as they hinder the self-healing properties of collagen
• Excessive exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation
Some lifestyle choices such as smoking also affect the levels of collagen in the body.
We already looked at the different types of collagen that the body needs to be based on the amino acids of which they are made. Now, this is where it gets tricky; you may not always know which type of collagen is contained in the supplements.
Most collagen supplements contain hydrolyzed type I collagen. The supplements available in the market today are made of collagen that is extracted from bones, fish scales, pig skin and hides. Hydrolyzation is a term that simply means that the collagen (or amino acids in it) has been broken down, making it easier for the body to absorb it. Hydrolyzed collagen is easy to dissolve, which increases options for use. The supplements are available in both pills and powder. The powder supplement can be used in hot and cold beverages. It is quite common to see users put in one or two scoops of collagen powder in their smoothies, soups, coffee and other beverages.
How to Use Collagen Supplements
It is advisable to work with a physician especially when starting out. This is because they can guide you appropriately based on the results you want to see. Depending on your current circumstances, the physician may recommend a higher dosage to get you started. When you start seeing some of your desired results say within three weeks, maintain the dosage. If there are no changes at all after three weeks, the physician can prescribe a higher dosage that is within the recommended allowances.
The medical practitioner will also recommend the best time to take your supplements depending on why you need it. For example, if you need collagen to help with your work out performance, be sure to take your supplements within an hour of workout, just as you would any other protein. If your aim is to cool down hunger pangs while maintaining healthy body weight, you can take your supplements with breakfast or lunch depending on when you are most likely tempted to eat junk. The best thing is that you can add the collagen powder to your breakfast or lunch smoothie and you are good to go. The collagen gives a satiating feeling, which helps keep off unhealthy snacking temptations. You can also have collagen bars as a snack if you feel hungry in between meals.
Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
You are probably already aware of all the benefits associated with this wonder pills and powder. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why people take collagen supplements.
Collagen Supplements for Skin and Hair
Did you know that collagen forms up to 80% of your skin? Well, now you know. The skin has several layers. The middle layer of the skin, the dermis, is made up of elastic tissue and collagen. These are responsible for skin elasticity, hydration, and smoothness. The dermis also makes sure that the skin doesn’t have wrinkles.
Some studies claim that further research needs to be conducted in order to conclusively know exactly how the supplements help with hair and skin growth and health. Other studies, however, claim that the hype may not be entirely true.
According to the positive studies, hydrolyzed collagen has been reported to improve the health of the skin as well as fight aging effects. It is said to improve elasticity, smoothness, and hydration of the skin thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Collagen helps the body’s self-healing process, which includes the skin repairs needed for healthy skin. This self-healing also triggers the body to produce more collagen.
Some studies suggest that hydrolyzed type I collagen is easily destroyed in the gut by the digestive system and ends up being useless to the body. The same studies also show that type 2 can survive the digestions process without losing its chemical structure.
A lot of research is yet to be done on the exact course of action of the collagen peptides in the body and their exact action in making the skin healthier. For now, a lot of people have unofficially reported getting their desired results within just a few weeks of taking the supplements.
Collagen Supplements for Joints
The second most common reason why people take collagen supplements is to help with joint pain. The first reason is to keep the skin looking youthful and smooth. Collagen supports general bone and joint health and is vital in the formation of new bones. Collagen, through tendons and ligaments, improve joint flexibility and reduce joint pain. According to a study conducted on Penn State University’s 147 athletes, collagen is pretty effective in reducing joint pain.
Researchers theorize that the supplements accumulate in the cartilage and consequently stimulate tissues to make its own collagen. Increased collagen in the body reduces inflammation and gives the bones and joints better support thereby reducing pain caused by pressure and strained ligaments.
The recommended start dosage for collagen meant to help with joint pain is 8 to 12 grams daily. While this is a general dosage that works for different groups of people, it is advisable to talk to your medical practitioner for a personalized prescription.
Collagen Supplements for Muscle Mass
The muscle tissue has up to 10% collagen! That is how essential this protein is in keeping the muscles strong, healthy and functioning as they should. Studies suggest that collagen is especially helpful to people with sarcopenia as it helps build muscle mass. In most cases, loss of muscle mass is caused by old age or severe illness.
A study done on 27 sarcopenic men who took 15g of collagen daily for 12 weeks resulted is significantly more muscle mass compared to the control group who were not on the supplement. Both groups were engaged in muscle training exercises. Researchers conclude that there is a need for further studies to explore the potential of collagen for building muscle mass.
Collagen Supplements for Bone Density
You probably already know by now that collagen gives bones structure and strength. There are countless cases of diseases caused because of a lack of collagen such as osteoporosis in old age. Such conditions are characterized by bone fractures which are a result of dwindling bone density. The majority of these cases are prevalent in old age since the levels of this protein lower with age.
A study was conducted on two groups of women. One group took calcium supplements with 5g of collagen and the second group took calcium supplements only every day for 12 months. At the end of the study period, the group of women that took collagen in addition to calcium supplements had lower levels of blood proteins that are associated with bone breakdown compared to their counterparts.
A similar study was conducted on 66 women taking 5 g of collagen daily, and another taking placebo pills daily for 12 months. The group that took collagen had up to 7% increase in bone mineral density compared to the control group. Bone mineral density is the measure of minerals that are associated with strong healthy bones. Low bone density is associated with weakening bones and the development of conditions such as osteoporosis.
Collagen Supplements for Heart Health
Arteries and blood vessels get their structure from collagen. Therefore, if there isn’t enough of this protein in the vessels and arteries, they become weak and fragile, which significantly increases the risk for heart-related issues. One such serious issue is atherosclerosis, which is a condition characterized by narrow, weak arteries. This condition can easily lead to heart attack and sometimes stroke.
A study was done on 31 healthy adults for six months. They took 16g of collagen every day. By the end of the study period, all adults had up to a 6% increase in good HDL cholesterol levels. This good HDL cholesterol reduces the risk of heart conditions. Additionally, this group was reported to have more flexible arteries (reduced artery stiffness) compared to when they were not taking the supplement.
Collagen for Good Digestion
Most research studies do not focus on collagen supplements as a whole when testing for digestion benefits, they focus on specific amino acids contained in the collagen. Here is a list of some of the amino acids contained in collagen, and their proven roles in better digestion.
• Glycine, one of the essential amino acids found in collagen, has been proven to reduce inflammation and thereby aid digestion. It also stimulates stomach acids that are essential in digestion and absorption of nutrients.
• Glutamine also reduces inflammation and helps in healing leaking guts. It helps in healthy lining of the stomach as well as opening junctions in connective tissue. This amino acid is pretty helpful in curbing desire for alcohol and sugar, which are detrimental to body cells.
• Proline helps in wound healing, increased metabolism, collagen synthesis as well as reduced inflammation in the gut.
Collagen is hydrophilic. This means that it attracts water and acid molecules. Therefore, when ingested, and as it moves along the gastrointestinal tract, the collagen molecules are surrounded by water and digestive acids. These elements help in breaking down carbohydrates and proteins in the gut. The water helps the food to move smoothly along the tract.
Collagen Supplements and General Body Health
The immense benefits of collagen do not stop at the skin, gut, heart, muscles, and bones. No. This protein is associated with general body health owing to its role in the functionality of several organs and body parts. Here are additional benefits that are associated with having the right levels of collagen in the body.
• Hair and nails grow longer and healthier when there is enough collagen in the body. Collagen prevents brittleness and stimulates the growth of strong nails and longer nails and hair.
• Collagen has reportedly enhanced brain health. While there are no official studies done to prove this, a good number of people who take collagen supplements claim to experience better moods and reduced anxiety.
• Collagen promotes faster metabolism and consequently, weight loss. There are no official studies that prove this benefit. However, those who take collagen supplements claim that it has helped them in their weight loss journey.
There are countless more benefits of collagen supplements that have been reported over time. Most of these reported benefits do not have extensive research done to prove their existence. However, experts are calling for further studies to explore the benefits of collagen supplements.
Common Collagen Supplements Myths busted
Being the new super supplement in the health and wellness industry, collagen is not without assumptions and myths attached to its effectiveness. Truth be told, there have been numerous studies conducted to prove the effectiveness of its benefits. Though countless more studies are needed, those that have been done prove that it is quite effective for a variety of issues.
While some people are pretty informed on what this protein can and cannot do, others are totally misinformed, almost expecting the supplement to perform miracles. We’ll look at some of the most common myths that are associated with collagen supplements.
1. All hydrolyzed collagen supplements are equal
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements are not equal. For starters, there are 4 different types of collagen extracted from animal products and used to make collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen. These 4 types are bovine, porcine, chicken and marine collagen. Marine (fish) collagen consists of mainly type I collagen while the other 3 mainly consists of type II collagen which is best for joints.
Here is the thing; type I and type II collagen come from varying sources, have differing physical qualities and their benefits in the body are equally different. For instance, marine collagen has smaller, molecules which are easily absorbed in the body compared to the others.
If you want to improve your joint health, go for type II collagen. If you are looking to restore youthfulness to your skin, choose type I collagen (or supplements that have at least 80% type I collagen).
2. Collagen supplements should be taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning
Is there an appropriate way and time to take your supplements? Well, you have probably heard recommendations for taking supplements on an empty stomach. This recommendation alludes to the possibility of the fragile state of the collagen molecule and the likelihood that it will be destroyed by stomach acids.
The fact is that collagen molecules are quite big and require stomach acids to break it down to smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. You can take your supplements at any time of day, with or without food.
There are no conclusive studies that have been conducted on the effectiveness of the supplement based on the time of ingestion. But we know that the body repairs and heals itself at night while we are resting, or early morning. If you can, use the supplements early morning when the repair process is ongoing. However, if you are not in a position to, take your supplements at any time of day. Your results will still be as good. After all, the collagen is in the body so it helps with body functions.
3. Calcium supplements and collagen supplements are mutually exclusive as they can cause hypercalcemic toxicity
This logic is derived from a fear of calcium overdose, especially when taking collage supplements that have high calcium content. In most cases, you’ll find that calcium supplements are taken alongside vitamin D supplements. In all honesty, this logic is not entirely far-fetched as there is a chance of raising the body’s calcium to deleterious levels.
The fact is that when you desire bone health, it is important to take marine collagen (from non-farmed fish) alongside Vitamin D and calcium supplements for synergy in bone repair. Supplements meant to manage osteoarthritis and osteoporosis usually combine calcium and collagen. This is to say that it is safe to take collagen alongside calcium pills depending on your desired results.
4. Dietary proteins are enough, no need for collagen supplements
The market today is saturated with amino acid supplements. Collagen, as you probably already know, is a molecule made of amino acids. While amino acids are packed with health benefits, overdosing on them does not necessarily lead to the production of peptides or collagen. Some think that taking amino acid supplements restores lost collagen. However, amino acid supplement is very different from hydrolyzed collagen.
Collagen molecules are made up of up to 20 amino acids assembled in a complex structure. Up to 18 amino acids are needed in the right ratios and quantities in order to make a complete collagen helix chain.
Oral ingestion of collagen peptide supplements is the most effective way to achieve your desired results. This is because this protein’s molecule is easily broken down into smaller, easily absorbed molecules. These molecules are then transferred to the skin’s dermis layer. While amino acid supplements have endless health benefits, hydrolyzed collagen is far more effective, with faster and stronger results.
Collagen Rich Foods
Animal connective tissues are the best sources of collagen. Additionally, foods that contain gelatin are equally good sources of collagen. Gelatin is the protein derived from cooked collagen. Some of the best sources of this super protein include fish, chicken, and pigskin as well as beef.
It is important to note that there are no conclusive studies that show whether there is a direct relationship between eating collagen-rich foods and the levels of collagen in the body. Studies need to be conducted to show if collagen-rich foods have the same effect as supplements when ingested.
But here is the thing; digestion breaks down proteins into individual peptides and amino acids which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Collagen supplements, on the other hand, are hydrolyzed to break it down to absorbable molecules. These molecules are more efficiently absorbed compared to food collagen.
Cautionary Measures When Buying Collagen Supplements
Here is the thing; eating a healthy diet is always better than taking dietary supplements later on in life. Nutritionists always say that eating healthy food is more beneficial compared to taking nutrients in isolated form. With that being said, protein isolates can be pretty helpful especially when needed in higher quantities such as in sports injuries, diseases and skin conditions. Collagen significantly decreases healing time.
Before you go all out to get the biggest container of collagen peptides, there are a few things you should have in mind.
• Skip the flavored supplements. This is because they can contain additions such as sugars that upset the gastrointestinal tract. These extra sugars can also add unwanted calories. If you must have your sweet supplements, go for the plain ones and add a healthy sweetener yourself.
• Skip the long list of ingredients. As much as possible, take supplements that just has an ingredient on it; collagen isolate, or hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolase or collagen peptides.
• Look for certification. Since collagen supplements are not considered drugs, they are not subjected to rigorous testing and retesting. As such, you may need to look out for accredited third-party certifications to ascertain quality. Some of the credible third party certifications include USP, NSF, and UL. A product with any of these certifications means that it has been tested for safety.
Side Effects Associated With Collagen Supplements
Collagen is not known to have many or severe side effects. However, it is important to note that it passes on the allergens found in their source. For example, if collagen is extracted from shellfish or eggs, it is likely to arouse allergenic reactions in those whose bodies are sensitive to these substances. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid collagen supplements extracted from substances that you know you are allergic to.
There have been a few reports that indicate that collagen supplements have a lingering nasty aftertaste. In such cases, it is advisable to use it in a drink such as fruit juices where you can add sweeteners.
There are reports that collagen supplements give a feeling of fullness or heaviness in the stomach. Others complain of hurt burn and diarrhea. Rashes have also been reported by people who take collagen supplements.
Despite these complains, these supplements are generally safe for adults; they do not pose any major health risks. However, if you are not sure whether you should take the supplements or not, visit your medical practitioner for assessment and recommendations. Additionally, be sure to make your purchase only from reputable sellers and look out for the marks of safety. Keep in mind that there might be endless brands selling fake supplements. Caution is key when it comes to health supplements.