What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. And it can be found in the muscles, bones, tendons and most importantly from our point of view, the skin.
Collagen makes up an impressive 75% of the organ. Collagen is found in the dermis or “middle layer” of the skin along with elastic tissue, that gives it its fullness and plumpness.
So why is collagen essential? One word – Wrinkles. Collagen is what keeps your skin full and youthful-looking. Our bodies produce new collagen every day; however, after the age of 25, we lose more collagen than we produce (eek!). That’s when you start to see wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin.
The structure of collagen resembles a braid or rope: Individual amino acids link up to form long chains, which bundle together to form thicker strands. Those strands then twist and coil around each other to form triple helices. Finally, those helices connect end to end and stack on top of each other to form clusters called fibrils. In other words, collagen is a pretty complex and massive molecule.
Where does collagen come from?
Collagen can be found in bone, tendons, ligaments, organs, muscle, blood vessels, and hair, and is the main component of our connective tissues and is seen as the glue that holds our bodies together.
Did you know: We have been consuming collagen for centuries. When collagen is cooked, it forms Gelatin.
Gelatin is obtained through boiling the cartilage, skin, and the bones of animals. It’s often used as a thickener for fruit gelatin and puddings, cakes, yoghurt, marshmallows, ice cream, soup, bone broth, and even vitamins as a coating and for capsules. You’ve probably been eating collagen in unexpected ways all your life.
What breaks down collagen?
No.1 Not enough sleep
Like our body and minds, our skin also needs to rest. Scientists have concluded that when our bodies are overly fatigued, it will compromise the immune system, which in turn slows down collagen production. So if you want to stay young and beautiful, best not skip out on a good nights rest.
No. 2 Sugar and Alcohol
Anything that is taxing to your kidneys and liver makes it harder for them to filter and detox the body, and as a result, lowers your collagen levels. Unfortunately, that means sugar and alcohol. Inflammatory foods encourage free radical formation and the breakdown of collagen; thus, excess drinking is extremely toxic to your body.
No. 3 Skipping out on the SPF
A page straight from the manual of stuff you already know: The sun is public enemy number one when it comes to your skin. Too much sun exposure generates free radicals in the skin, causing collagen to break down collagen. The skin absorbs UVA and UVB lights. UVB rays are responsible for giving you a sunburn, but UVA rays go much deeper into the dermis of the skin and over time break down the collagen supply. UV rays directly cause collagen to break down.
Do Collagen Supplements work?
The short answer – It might. In a study conducted in 2002, scientists found that our gut’s digestive enzymes and acids break down hydrolysed collagen, which is the type found in most supplements and powders. However, the same study found type-II collagen may slip through your gut without losing its chemical structure. So yes, drinking collagen supplements may or may not work.
All we can say is this: it won’t hurt to drink collagen supplements. Because even if there is a chance that these supplements won’t survive your gut, there is also a chance that they might survive and your skin will surely thank you for it.
How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?
Results may vary. Each supplement is constructed differently, so it all depends on the strength of these supplements. But from what we can gather based on numerous articles, blogs and reviews – You will be able to see a significant and noticeable difference within 2 – 8 weeks. It is always a good idea to drink collagen supplements.
Aside from the benefits, it holds for your skin and the part it plays in keeping skin young and plumped up, it also holds a lot more benefits for your overall health. These include; healthier hair, improved joint strength, helps a leaky gut, boosting metabolism, reduced cellulite & stretch marks, and it strengthens teeth and nails.
Do I need collagen supplements for overall health?
The short answer – It yes. Under normal circumstances, amino acids found in collagen is produced by your body. However, when you are stressed, sick, unhealthy or overly fatigued, your body may not be able to produce enough amino acids on its own. The body then needs by means of collagen supplements.
The highest percentages of amino acids found within collagen, along with some of their key benefits, include:
Glutamine: Glutamine is created in our muscles and also obtained from food sources and is considered to be one of the most vital and abundant amino acids in our bodies. Research has shown that glutamine can prevent anxiety, a lack of concentration, tension, sleep disorders, poor digestive health, a weakened immune system and low energy.
Arginine: Arginine breaks down into nitric oxide in our bodies. This is a vital compound for heart and arterial health. Arginine also improves circulation, strengthens the immune system and can even improve male libido.
Proline: Proline makes up 15% of collagen. Proline and glycine ensure that your body is running at an optimal level. Proline improves joint health, protects the integrity of blood vessels and has numerous cardiovascular benefits.
Glycine: Around 33% of the protein found in collagen is glycine. Even though it’s the smallest amino acid, glycine has enormous effects. To ensure the proper functionality of our cells, glycine builds healthy DNA strands. It’s also one of the three amino acids that form creatine, responsible for promoting healthy muscle growth and boosting energy production during a workout.
Are there any side-effects?
Although collagen supplements are generally safe for adults, it may come with a few unwanted side effects. These side effects are mild but may include diarrhoea, a general feeling of heaviness in the stomach and rashes. Always consult your doctor before taking any new or unfamiliar supplements. But once again, the side-effects are uncommon and luckily super mild.
Do collagen in moisturisers work?
The short answer – It can. Investing in an excellent anti-ageing moisturiser is a sure way to improve collagen in your skin. Although studies that have been conducted in the past have made us question whether collagen in creams can even do anything for you.
The large braided molecules that make-up collagen is too big to penetrate your epidermis and would therefore also be too big to go down into the dermis. However, what we can say is this; Being in the industry ourselves we know that formulas, ingredients and technology are forever changing.
The chemistry behind the formulation process will always improve, and we do believe the scientists behind these have already found a way to make it possible for the collagen found in creams to penetrate deeper than the epidermis.
Collagen in foods, and their benefits
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Bovine Collagen: Bovine Collagen comes from cows. It is specifically found in their skin, bones and muscles. It’s a rich source of glycine and proline making it therefore useful for creatine production, building muscle and also aiding the body in making its own collagen.
Chicken Collagen: Chicken collagen is best for building cartilage. It is super beneficial for joint health, especially since this source also provides glucosamine sulphate as well as chondroitin sulphate, which have anti-ageing effects.
Fish Collagen: Collagen found in fish is easily absorbed and provide an abundance of amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Consuming fish collagen is particularly beneficial for joints, skin, vital organs, blood vessels, digestion and bones.
Egg Shell Membrane Collagen: Eggshell membrane provides glucosamine sulfate, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and various amino acids. These all have benefits for building connective tissue, wound healing, building muscle mass and reducing pain/stiffness.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body and it is, therefore, necessary for us to take good care of it. We can conclude that after the age of 25, we lose more collagen in our bodies than we are able to produce but we can also say that there is nothing we can do about it.
Taking good care of the collagen in our bodies is something most of us neglect to do and over the years, it will show. So use this article as a guideline for you to ensure a youthful-looking skin and overall improved health.