What is collagen and types of collagen?
Collagen is also known as the body’s scaffolding – framework or the skeleton that holds your tissues together. If you think of our bodies like the structure of a house, collagen would be the foundation, the walls, the pillars and roof scaffold that form the framework of the house.
It is the most abundant protein in your body and constitutes approximately 75% of your skin’s dry weight!!! Literally, it holds everything together like glue – no wonder, the word ‘collagen’ comes from a Greek word meaning glue – which forms a matrix or strands or mesh…that sticks everything together and helps in repair & healing of skin, bones, tendons and joints.
There are many different types of collagen – the last I heard… there were over 27 types! – They are labeled Type I, II, III etc in Roman numbers. Type I is the most abundant constituting over 90% of all collagen in our bodies. It forms the bone & teeth (of course with minerals to make it solid), skin (scar tissue), tendons and ligaments.
Type II is the one that forms the joint cartilage and the articular surfaces.
Type III is the collagen found in the internal organs such as the liver, bone marrow, lymphatic system, etc.
Type IV – respiratory tract (lungs), intestines, digestive system, Type V, VI, etc.
In reference to this first part of our video, we’ll talk about Type I collagen provides structural support to our skin… and like I said, it forms 75% of your dry skin weight! On your skin it keeps the volume and hydration of the skin and this is what prevents the appearance fine lines and wrinkles on our faces, neck and hands where they first begin to appear. Remember this is the type of collagen associated with scar tissue and wound healing. So, if you have an obvious scar… look at it carefully and remember that this is type I collagen.
Natural Collagen Loss and need for Supplementation
Unfortunately, our body’s collagen production declines with age –We lose approximately 1% of collagen production per year from our early 20s. So, we are looking at from around 24-25 we start losing collagen.
And for the ladies, this loss can be as much as 30% in the first 5 years of menopause – that’s a lot of collagen lost. Think of it this way, this is approx. 6% loss every year during the first 5 years of menopause! So it is very important to think about that, when we talk about supplementation.
By the time we get to 50 years of age, we will have lost at least half of our collagen production… that’s when the fine lines and visible signs of aging begin to appear… that is because we lose collagen and collagen is responsible for skin elasticity and we start showing signs of aging.
Should we not be getting collagen from our diet? The answer is YES. We should be eating, the collagen-rich foods, the likes of sou, broth, Chicken, Fish, Citrus fruits for vegetarians, Berries, Eggs, Avocadoes, they are all very rich in collagen.
However, due to certain factors, and unfortunately, they seem to hinder collagen absorption…these include smoking and alcohol consumption, hormonal changes, we just mentioned menopause, processed foods, excess sun, and stress.. they all reduced the absorption and a faster rate of collagen decline.
Very, very important and just to highlight it here is the role that Vitamin C plays in collagen metabolism… In its basic function, Vitamin C helps in the formation or the synthesis of collagen. In fact, the deficiency in Vitamin C, is a disease known as scurvy, leads to bleeding of gums, sometimes teeth actually fall off, and skin healing is very poor – all because without Vitamin C, collagen is not being formed and tissue support is virtually absent!
So, let’s quickly touch on collagen supplementation – which is an area of controversy. I’ll dig a little deeper into the science, so that I can give you a good understanding of where we are coming from.
Collagen is mainly sourced from cow, bovine collagen, pigs (porcine collagen), fish, and chickens as we mentioned earlier. It comes in numerous formulations… that we’ll discuss shortly.
First, when collagen is put under heat it becomes denatured. This is the breaking of the natural weak linkages or bonds that form Gelatin. So, it forms gelatin after being heated. Gelatin is actually made by cooking collagen, if you didn’t know. We use Gelatin every day. It is used as a thickener, texturizer in yogurt, margarine, beauty products, it is virtually everywhere.
Now, this gelatin can further be broken down using enzymes – enzymes are chemicals that help to break the collagen further. This is a process known as enzymatic, coming from enzymes, enzymatic hydrolysis.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know all this scientific jargon, but the reason this keyword is important is that it produces what is known as Collagen Hydrolysates – which are basically smaller molecules of different lengths… and they are known as collagen dipeptides (if they are two) or collagen tripeptides (if they are three).
Now, these collagen peptides are what forms the final products that is commercially available as a supplement in your drinks, in your capsules, tablets, using it as a powder or whatever form of supplementation you are taking as collagen peptides they have been broken down to that molecular level.
Now, some people argue that collagen is a protein and can only be absorbed as an amino acid… which is true. However, there is good evidence that the collagen peptides can be found in the bloodstream after taking collagen peptides. So in essence this is something known as bioavailability… so they are bioavailable. In addition, these peptides – small molecules of collagen we are talking about– have been found to trigger and increase collagen production in the tissues – in other words, they are bio-active! So they are both bioavailable and bioactive.
Collagen peptides - What is the medical evidence?
For me, I’m always looking for medical and scientific evidence that is credible and studies that are well designed… meaning that they are placebo-controlled, randomized, and double-blind – which is possibly the most scientific way of reducing bias.
One of the landmark review studies, it’s called a meta-analysis – meaning that you put many different studies together, which forms the largest and most credible body of evidence, was published just a few years ago, in 2019 and it looked at 11 different studies (all of them randomized control trials) with a total of 805 patients. That’s a good representative number. It’s not just 5 or 10 patients that have just been reported somewhere in a newspaper.
These studies showed a benefit in wound healing and reduction in signs of aging. That’s quite a claim. In addition, they demonstrated that there was an increase in skin elasticity, skin hydration, and skin collagen density also increased – which is basically your firmness of your the skin.
There were also some other benefits described in each of the isolated studies – ranging from reduction in eye wrinkle volume, an increase in skin moisture to even improvement in the skin texture.
Best of all, it was found that taking collagen peptides was generally safe. In one of my other episodes I’ll actually take you through the side effects of taking Collagen Peptide.
In another double-blind, randomized & placebo-controlled trial, which was done in 2014; this was very interesting because it involved 69 ladies. And these ladies were not just young ladies or a mix of ladies. It was ladies aged between 35-55 years, collagen peptide supplementation demonstrated a significantly higher improvement in skin elasticity level. Very important because this is the age when the wrinkles start forming on the face, on the neck and on the hands.
There is therefore more and more evidence coming up showing that the use of collagen peptide supplementation may play a role in improving your skin elasticity, skin hydration, and collagen density – basically the firmness of your skin.
To recap, on this episode’s lessons…four things as takeaway.
One, Collagen is an important protein in our body that forms the framework of our tissues – think of scaffolding in a house.
Second point, as we age, collagen production gets depleted. We lose 50% collagen production by the age 50 and keeps declining downwards
3. Collagen peptides are absorbable collagen molecules that help trigger and increase the formation of collagen in our bodies.
And lastly, the use of collagen peptides has been shown to increase skin hydration, elasticity, and skin collagen density or firmness of our skin – in very well-designed clinical trials.
Those are the four points I’d like you to take away today.
So, there you have it, hope you found this beneficial and I’m sure we’ve answered our initial question … which was ‘Are Collagen Peptides Beneficial for your Skin, Hair and Nails?”