If you are interested in healthy and balanced life, Ayurveda, and natural ways to age healthier you have probably heard about collagen, collagen protein, and collagen powder. Do you know exactly what it does and how it works? There have been many names for collagen, the most used one is ‘the fountain of youth’ claiming it is a natural way to a wrinkle-free and youthful skin and healthy gut.
What is Collagen and Why Does it Matter?
This article will provide you with an all-encompassing rundown of collagen, including why is it important, how to use it, and the benefits of collagen powder. It is important to know the basics and what to look out for as misuse won’t bring any benefits.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies Pureagen® provides a detailed explanation in their blog “What is Collagen powder? Collagen is formed through chains of amino acids that act as building blocks. The amino acids involved are called glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. As the collagen moves through the gastrointestinal tract, it also helps break down protein and carbohydrates.
What Does Collagen Do in the Body?
It is the most important structural protein in our skin, nails, and hair and its most important role is to connect tissues, joints and provide firmness and elasticity to our skin. It is also required for the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells. Additionally, collagen production is needed when new muscle cells are generated. Overall collagen is very important for repairing damage in our bodies.
There are said to be at least sixteen up to twenty-eight different collagen types. The leading are type I, type II, type III, and type V.
Collagen type I makes around 90% of the collagen found in mammals making it the most abundant. This type is made of densely packed fibres. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth. It is mostly known as collagen for the skin.
Collagen type II is made of more loosely packed fibres and is found in elastic cartilages which cushion our joints. It is very important for skeletal health.
Collagen type III is commonly found in the body’s reticular fibres, connective tissue and it supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries. It is also important for healthy hair and is mostly known as collagen for hair.
Collagen type V usually co-distributes with type I in bones, corneal stroma, and interstitial matrix of smooth muscles, skeletal muscles, livers, lungs, and placentas.
What Can I Do to Minimize the Decline of natural collagen?
Our collagen production declines over the years. It is believed that the decline starts after we reach 25 years of age and scientists say that we produce 1% of collagen less each year after that. Additionally for women, the production is 30% lower when they hit menopause than it was in their twenties. There are some ways to help maintain the natural production of collagen in your body. Because collagen is a protein, increasing your protein intake can do the trick. Between 60 to 80 grams of protein would be the most beneficial amount to consume daily.
Collagen cannot be produced without vitamin C. The body uses vitamin C and protein to produce tiny molecules called pro-collagen. These molecules stick together and create clumps or pro-collagen called fibrils. When the fibrils are fully formed they start to look like a net and this is what we call collagen.
Copper is required for the production of red blood cells, bone, and connective tissue and is additionally essential for collagen production. It is a mineral that can be obtained only through diet.
Zinc also helps protect the collagen, It protects it against any damage.
It is important to also be aware of behaviours that can damage collagen production. The first behaviour is eating too much-processed sugar and processed carbs which interfere with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Sugar prevents the collagen to have much effect on your body. Secondly getting too much sun. While getting some vitamin D is good for your bones the extensive ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Smoking also reduces collagen production. It also impairs wound healing and therefore leads to wrinkles and skin imperfections. While these behaviours do not prevent the production of collagen, the collagen that is produced is of poor quality and there is very little of it. This causes wrinkly skin, loosened muscles, and overall increases the negative effects of agility and lessens the function of our bodies.
The History of Collagen
Collagen has only recently become popular (around 2017) within the wellness and health community. It has however been used as a natural healing remedy for thousands of years. The first form of collagen was the bone broth that was used by cavemen for nutritional and healing properties. Bone broth is quite a broad term in this situation as they usually just broke up the bones and ate the nutrients inside such as bone marrow. Eventually, it became a practice of simmering the bones in water. Interestingly, the use of bone broth has started as prevention of wasting food.
Terms to Know
Amino acids: small molecules, that build a protein.
Gastrointestinal tract: digestive tract, consisting of all digestive organs, from mouth to anus.
Processed sugar is a form of sugar that has been extracted from natural sources such as sugar cane, sugar beets, or corn. It does not hold many nutrient properties and it digests quickly, causing more spikes in blood sugar.
Processed carbs: These are foods that have had most of their nutrients removed and are made with white highly processed grains such as white flour, white rice, and processed sugar.
Collagen peptides: are small messenger molecules that turn into amino acids, building a protein that acts as stimulators in collagen production.
What’s the best source of collagen?
Our bodies produce quite a large amount of collagen on their own. But the reason they produce so much is that collagen is needed for such important roles in our bodies. The fact that our natural collagen production starts to decline when we reach 25 years of age is worrying. Because of that, supplements or a careful diet are advised. The lost collagen has to be replaced somehow. There are natural foods that can encourage natural collagen production.
Algae prevent oxidation from taking away the elasticity of your skin. They also protect the collagen.
Hemp is high in protein and amino acids which are essential in building collagen. Berries are high in vitamin C that is necessary for collagen production.
Flax Seeds contain omega-3 that regulates the skin's oil production and improves hydration.
Nettle is high in calcium, silica, and sulphur which are great sources to boost collagen receptors.
You can also include chicken broth, gelatine, chicken skin, and pork skin into your diet if that is something that you like. There are however a lot of collagen supplements. There are collagen proteins, collagen peptides, collagen powders, hydrolysed collagen, and collagen pills. Additionally, there are a lot of different types. Some of them are bovine, porcine, chicken, and marine.
Do Collagen supplements work?
The collagen supplements consist of the same amino acids as natural collagen therefore are easily absorbed by our body. Most collagen peptides come in powder form. It is important to understand that collagen peptides in collagen supplements are not a replacement for lost collagen but are thought of as messengers to stimulate the body to produce more collagen once its natural production declines. Collagen powders deliver the collagen in the most potent amount, meaning that most of what you consume will actually reach your bloodstream.
Is powdered collagen safe?
Before buying collagen supplements you need to make sure you are buying them from a quality source and that the ingredients are all-natural. Some collagens have chemical additives, artificial flavours or colours, chemical preservatives, gluten, and even GMOs. If you are buying the bovine collagen also make sure that the packing states the animals were grass-fed and pasture-raised, and on marine collagen look for sustainably, wild-caught cod phrases. If you find collagen with added vitamin C it is going to be even more beneficial. Vitamin C is the most important ingredient when it comes to collagen production and will lift the effectiveness of your collagen supplement even more.
What are the Benefits of Collagen Powder?
The research on collagen supplements and their benefits is still new and not widely examined. However, the existing studies show promising results and little to no side effects. In 2012 a study was published in the journal Clinical Interventions regarding the ageing and the effects of collagen peptides on the dryness of the skin and wrinkles. The study did show some positive effects, but due to the fact only 1 gram of collagen was taken, no larger improvements were seen. Another study (2014) selected around 50 women between 35 and 55 years of age to take a hydrolysed collagen supplement. Around 30 other women took a placebo.
The women who took the collagen supplement did show improvement in the elasticity of their skin within 4 weeks and a reduction in wrinkles was noticed after 8 weeks. Collagen presents almost 80% of our skin, so the shortage of it will naturally lead to dry and droopy skin. Skin elasticity was also examined in regards to collagen supplements. A study in 2019 compared collagen supplements and placebo and results showed improvements in skin appearance such as minimization of wrinkles and lines and improved elasticity of the skin. A study published in 2019 showed that the use of collagen peptide supplements in combination with strength training increased muscle mass and strength more than strength training on its own.
With ageing, our joints degenerate and have less ability to heal themselves. A study in 2017 looked at collagen supplements and their effect on mice with post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). The effects of the supplements indicated positive benefits, such as protecting the body from developing and progressing with the disease. Similar a study from 2012 looked at patients with progressing osteoarthritis (OA). The regular use of collagen for seventy days significantly reduced the pain in their joints, and it even improved their physical activity. Similar to joints, our bones loose strength with age, they became more brittle and with a deficiency in collagen, the recovery from an injury is more difficult and long term. A study was done in 2014 with postmenopausal women with osteopenia. Regular use of collagen supplements in combination with a calcium supplement reduced bone depletion.
Collagen is also important in muscle recovers and regeneration. A study in 2019 showed that collagen supplements significantly improved muscle soreness and sped up the recovery after physical activity. With age, our muscles also weaken and lose mass. Collagen supplements taken regularly alongside regular exercise can reduce muscle loss in our ageing process. Collagen also promotes liver health. It contains three amino acids (proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline) which help break down fats. The stomach has a hard time processing food if there is not enough bile salt in it. Collagen prevents the lack of amino acids, enables easier digestion, and even reduces liver inflammation. Last but not least, collagen helps to keep our hearts healthy. Arterial walls consist of type I collagen up to almost 70%. Because they carry blood around our whole body and to our heart they must be very strong. Weak arteries can cause heart diseases. Collagen additionally boosts the production of the 'good' cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart conditions even more.
What are the Side Effects of Taking Collagen?
Can collagen be bad for you? Overall scientists believe that there are no negative side effects of taking collagen supplements but they do note that a personalised approach is still the best way to go. Doing some research and trying things that fit you personally will provide more benefits than blindly following something that a celebrity recommends. Additionally, even though there are no severe or well-known side effects of taking collagen supplements, it is important that you discuss it with your doctor. For example, the amino acid hydroxyproline can be converted into oxalate and travels through the kidney into the urine. That can trigger the formation of kidney stones. Some individuals are even allergic to collagen and the allergic reactions can cause itching, tingling in the mouth, swelling of the tongue, wheezing, abdominal pain, and nausea and/or vomiting. Therefore it is advised to do your research, be aware of any pre-existing issues that you have and figure out what is best for you. Collagen is not one fits all so adapt it to your needs and gain its benefits without any harm to yourself.
What is the Best Collagen Powder?
Marine collagen is most often called the beauty-boosting collagen and it is derived from the skin and cells of fish. It is bioavailable, which means when it comes in contact with a liquid it breaks down into tiny pieces and is easily digested. Marine collagen is absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier. It moves through the body as amino acids. These amino acids then stimulate the body to produce more collagen. It helps maintain healthy hair, nails and skin, strengthens the connective tissues, and helps the gut. Marine collagen is usually wild-caught and is the safest and healthiest as there is the least amount of contamination compared to others. This option is also pescatarians diet-friendly.
Bovine collagen is produced from the hides of cows and it is beneficial for your skin, hair, nails, and internal connective tissues. But when it comes to this type it is important to know where it comes from as there is more chance of cross-contamination so buying from a sustainable, organic supplier with no additives is advised.
Multi collagen powder that contains a mix of 5 different types of collagen. In our multi collagen powder there are Hydrolysed bovine collagen peptides (providing type 1 and type 3 collagen peptides. They promote healthy nails, hair, and skin. Hydrolysed fish collagen peptides (type 1 collagen) are rich in amino acids that improve the hydration of the skin. Hydrolysed avian eggshell membrane collagen (contains type 1, type 5, and type 10 collagen) is good for the skin and even has pain relief properties. Peptan® ll M Hydrolysed type II collagen (derived from chicken or cow cartilage) benefits joints and reduces inflammation.
Vegan Collagen Powder
When it comes to a vegan and vegetarian diet, collagen is necessary too, but most supplements are an animal by-product. There are vegan collagens but rather than containing actual collagen peptides, they consist of collagen-boosting supplements. Collagen boosting supplements include all the natural elements that are necessary for collagen production. Amino acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and antioxidant complex. This makes it suitable for vegans and vegetarians as there is no animal product involved.
The use of collagen powder Collagen powder is very easily incorporated into foods as most of the powdered collagens have no taste and no smell. The peptides also mix well into smoothies, soups, baked goods, sauces, hot drinks, so there is no risk of affecting the texture of the food. Daily use of collagen may show improvements in your skin in around 4 to 12 weeks of regular consumption. Reduction of wrinkles and increased hydration and elasticity are the most common first changes. In around 12 to 24 weeks your nails and hair might show increased growth, nails might be stronger, hair shinier, and less dry. A small study also noted an increase in muscle mass in men who took collagen supplements regularly for around 3 months and an enhanced bone density in postmenopausal women in around 12 months of regular use. A more long-term change might happen in around 24 weeks. Reduced joint pain, increased ability to move, and reduced recovery time after an injury. One of the improvements that you might notice is also gut health. As one of the main amino acids supports digestive health by being fuel for its cells in the intestine, the gut works actively, keeping your digestion regular.
How to use Collagen Powder?
Should I Use it Every Day? Scientists have shown that the amount of collagen taken on a regular basis can differently affect the body. It is beneficial to stay consistent and take it daily, but taking it every now and then will not be less effective it may just take more time for you to see improvements. Between 2.5 and 10 grams of collagen taken daily for eight to twelve weeks showed improvements in the skin. For joint pain such as osteoarthritis, a 10 grams dose (half a teaspoon) taken daily for three to five months showed some relief. A larger dose of 1 teaspoon can improve bone density and metabolism as well as improve muscle mass and body composition. In general taking between 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen daily should suffice. The easiest way how to use collagen powders and how to include them in your daily life is to mix them in your drinks. While making coffee just add a teaspoon of the powder once the coffee is not boiling hot anymore. You can also add it to your tea, hot chocolate, or any other warm drink. Most collagen powders are easily mixed so adding them to a cold drink works too, such as lemonade, ice tea or fruit juice, even smoothies. If you like cooking you can easily add collagen to your sauces such as pesto, tomato sauce. Our collagen powder has no taste and smell, therefore, is easy to add to sweet or sour recipes. If you like baking just add collagen to the flour before mixing.
Tips and Reminders
It is important to understand that collagen supplements are not a complete replacement for naturally produced collagen. They are only an aid to stimulate your body to produce more. The collagen supplements do not actively help muscle or tissue-building or losing fat. They do however produce a building component that produces collagen.