Should You Be Taking Collagen?
What is collagen?
We’ve all heard of injectable collagen (ie: in the lips), but something you may be hearing a lot about lately is dietary collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. There are many different types of amino acids (proteins), but the type found in collagen are the most abundant in your body due to their role in forming connective tissues and skin.
Collagen production declines as you age, which is why many supplement manufacturers have started selling collagen powders and pills, which “animal parts”—usually bones or skin of cows (bovine), or scales of fish (marine). **Attentions vegans**
There are more than a dozen types of collagen, each composed of different “peptides” or amino acids, but three main types of dietary collagen are found in supplements. In most cases, if you’re buying a collagen peptides powder, you’re buying “hydrolyzed” type I collagen that has been extracted from animal hides or bones, or fish scales. Hydrolyzed means that the amino acid chains have been broken down into smaller units, a process that allows it to dissolve in both hot and cold liquids.
Type I Collagen
Comprises 90% of skin, hair, nails, organs, bone, ligaments.
Type II Collagen
Applies to cartilage.
Type III Collagen
Applies to fibrous protein in bone, cartilage, dentin, tendon, and other connective tissues.
Does it work?
Collagen supplementation has mixed reviews in the medical community about its effectiveness. Research has linked some collagen peptides to reduced skin wrinkles and healthier skin (Borumand, 2014). Participants were given 5,000mg of type I hydrolyzed collagen with hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and minerals on a daily basis for 60 days which led to a noticeable reduction in skin dryness, wrinkles, and nasolabial fold depth. In addition, a significant increase in collagen density and skin firmness was observed after 12 weeks.
In a Crowley, et al. study (2009) appearing in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, four out of five osteoarthritis sufferers who took a daily 40 mg oral dose of undenatured type II collagen (“UC-II”) experienced less pain, and their pain dropped by an average of 26%. (Unlike type I collagen, type II collagen is derived from chicken cartilage.)
Collagen Types I & III may:
- Minimize fine lines and wrinkles
- Improve elasticity
- Support the bone matrix (36% of bone is made up of collagen Type 1 and 3)
- 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
Collagen Type II:
- Makes up 50-60% of protein in cartilage
- Makes up 85-90% of collagen in articular cartilage
- May support back, jaw, and joints
- Includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid
What else should you know?
Hydrolyzed collagen is typically found as either marine or bovine. Marine collagen is extracted from cold water fish, which is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body, which means it has superior bioavailability and digestibility over bovine or porcine types (Sripriya, 2015). This is due to its smaller particle size compared to other types of collagen.
Vitamin C plays a critical role in collagen synthesis (Boyera, 1998). When taken orally, as well as applied topically, it activates the body's own mechanisms for producing collagen.
Hyaluronic Acid is shown to have a durable effect to retain moisture in the skin from within the body (Kajimoto, et al., 2001). In a double-blind, 4 week study, individuals who added hyaluronic acid (120mg) to their diet showed significant reductions in skin dryness, wrinkles, and improvements in skin moisture and fullness (Sato, 2002).
It is also said to be better absorbed on an empty stomach. Collagen types contain different proteins which serve separate purposes within the body. Types I & III can be taken together and are often packaged together. Type II collagen supplements should be taken separately from types I & III to ensure adequate absorption, so for example, if you want to be taking all three types take type I & III on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and type II later in the day before a meal.
Because they do come from “animal parts”, I recommend taking a supplement that had been checked and certified by a third party for contaminants.
My collagen experience.
I’ve only recently started using a marine collagen powder (type I & III), so I can’t attest to any benefits yet. I take it in the morning on an empty stomach. I add 1 serving - 2 scoops (12g/12,000mg) to hot water, because it just dissolves so much better. It claims to be tasteless. It’s not. It’s not bad, but it definitely has an indistinct flavor to it. If you’ve ever taken an unflavored BCAA, its about the same taste. I’ve been squeezing half a lemon into it, to add vitamin C for better absorption and to improve the taste. The research cited has results gathered after 6 to 12 weeks of usage, so I’ll do an update after there has been sufficient time to measure any benefits. I purchase LIV Premium Marine Collagen Peptides. It's Wild Caught 100% Pure Pacific Snapper Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen. Non-GMO, antibiotic-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, and third party (UL) tested and meets Good Manufacturing Practices. (Next blog - Supplements). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075TFCY48/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Borumand, M., & Sibilla, S. (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 9, 1747–1758. http://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S65939
Boyera, N., Galey, I., Bernard, BA., (1998). Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts. Int J Cosmet Sci. 20(3):151-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171747.x
Crowley, D. C., Lau, F. C., Sharma, P., Evans, M., Guthrie, N., Bagchi, M., … Raychaudhuri, S. P. (2009). Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 6(6), 312–321.
Kajimoto, O., Odanaka, W., Sakamoto, W., Yoshida, K., Takahashi, T. (2001) Clinical Effects of Hyaluronic acid diet for dry skin. J. New Rem & Clin, 90-102.
Sato, T., W. Sakamoto, W., Odanaka, W., Yoshida, K., Urushibara, O. (2002) Clinical effects of dietary hyaluronic acid on dry, rough skin. Aesthetic Dermatology. 12, 109–120.
Sripriya, R. and Kumar, R. (2015) A Novel Enzymatic Method for Preparation and Characterization of Collagen Film from Swim Bladder of Fish Rohu (Labeo rohita). Food and Nutrition Sciences, 6, 1468-1478. doi: 10.4236/fns.2015.615151.