Collagen is a substance that comes from proteins and which is present in most of the connective tissues of our organism. It has a structural function, both at a cutaneous level (a protective barrier) as well as in the joints. When it comes to supplements, we can find hydrolyzed or undenatured (UC-II) collagen. Its supplementation is mainly related to a decrease of joint pain, although it has been observed how some of its peptides improve the neuronal connections through the neurotrophins (BDNF).
- 1. What is Collagen?
- 2. Where can we find Collagen?
- 3. What is Collagen for?
- 4. Properties and Benefits of Collagen
- 5. Types of Collagen: Functions, characteristics, and properties
- 6. Sources of Collagen
- 7. How can we combine Collagen?
- 8. Gelatin, a great source of collagen
- 9. Benefits of gelatin
- 10. What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
- 11. Effective Dose of Collagen
- 12. Why do we lose collagen with age?
- 13. Who can benefit from taking collagen?
- 14. Related Entries:
What is Collagen?
There is currently a large part of the population who is becoming aware of the importance of taking care of their health. We are exposed to many factors that deteriorate our health, sometimes without even noticing.
Beauty is one of the most distinctive factors that should not be ignored because it creates a lot of interest. It is one of the elements that undergoes more noticeable changes in human beings with the passing of time. There are many factors that cause the deterioration of our external appearance, which is reflected in the aspect of the skin, our face, which is in essence the image that we show to the world.
Being forever young is a fantasy, it does not matter how hard a scientist or even an alchemist tries to achieve a “magic formula”. However, this does not mean that we do not have the ability to reduce the damage that the inexorable passing of time has on people. Sciences advances, and there are more products available that are designed to fulfil the wishes of people, which in this case would be to maintain, improve, care and, why not, rejuvenate the aspect of our skin.
Collagen, as a supplement, is a product of the evolution of technology that takes all these premises into account to give an opportunity to all those people who are deeply involved in taking care of their health and as well as their physical appearance.
Speaking more specifically about its nature, collagen is known as the most abundant protein structure in the organism of animals. This molecule does not exist in the plant kingdom. It is a macromolecule that results in the formation of collagen fibers, that are released by the cell network that constitutes the connective tissue.
Collagen is a special type of protein that works like a “glue” that provides support for the rest of the structures of the body, for the cohesion of tissues like the bones, skin, muscles, tendons, cartilages, etc.
Collagen forms a layer to bind the tissues in order to give support for said fibril systems, which provides two essential benefits at the same time: both as a structural pillar as well as enabling the dynamic function through the elasticity and flexibility of said tissues.
Collagen is classified into different Types depending on its molecular structure, concentration, and its location within the connective system. Type I is the most abundant one.
The natural production of collagen decreases with age, which is reflected in the onset of wrinkles, sagging of the skin, loss of elasticity and softness, as well as joint problems. There are other factors that can speed up the process, such as bad eating habits (excess of sugar and processed foods), tobacco, or too much exposure to the sun, which contribute to the decrease of the collagen levels. Research has proven that most pathologies related to the production and synthesis of collagen are caused by genetics, lack of sources (foods) rich in collagen, as well as other nutritional deficiencies, along with digestive problems.
Collagen helps to strengthen several structures of the body and also protects them, like in the case of the skin, since collagen avoids the absorption and propagation of pathogenic substances, environmental toxins, microorganisms, and cancer cells. Colloquially speaking, collagen is the cement that holds everything together.
Where can we find Collagen?
Collagen is the main insoluble fibrous protein in the Extracellular Matrix and in the connective tissue. When we refer to connective tissue we are talking about any tissue that supports and interconnects other tissues. These are the bones, cartilages, and loose connective tissues. The latter can be found in those areas that will not undergo a high resistance or mechanical stress.
Collagen is a part of the total set of connective fibers from our body, which means that we will find:
- Collagen fibers
- Reticular fibers
- Elastic fibers
Collagen fibers are the most abundant ones in the connective system. At a microscopic level, we can distinguish a sub-unit, which are the collagen fibrils.
The Extracellular Matrix
The extracellular matrix or ECM is the non cellular component that is present inside the tissues and organs that not only provides the basic structural support for the cell components but it also produces a signaling. This signaling is crucial for physiological processes with a biochemical and biomechanical nature and it is required for the morphology, differentiation, and homeostasis of the tissues.
The importance of the ECM is vividly illustrated in the wide range of syndromes that can originate from genetic abnormalities in the proteins, with different degrees of importance.
Although the extracellular matrix is essentially made of water, proteins, and polysaccharides, among other things, each tissue has a unique ECM with a different composition and topology that is generated during the development of the tissues through a dynamic and reciprocal, biochemical, and biophysical process between several cell components, such as the epithelia, fibroblasts, adipocytes, and other endothelial elements, as well as the cell envelope and the protein micro-environment.
The extracellular matrix of the connective tissue is often more abundant than the cells that surround it, and it determines the physical properties of the tissue. The connective tissues form the structure of the body of vertebrates, but the quantities found in different organs change a lot – from cartilage and bone, in which they are the main component, to brain and spinal cord, in which they are only minor constituents.
The ECM is a highly dynamic structure that is constantly being remodelled and regenerated, either enzymatically or not enzymatically, and its molecular components are subject to a myriad of post-translational modifications. Through these physical and biochemical features, the ECM will generate the biochemical and mechanical properties of each organ, such as the tensile strength, compression, or elasticity; it also intervenes in the protection and maintenance of the extracellular homeostasis and water retention.
In addition, the ECM leads the essential morphological organization and physiological function through the binding of growth factors (GF) and the interaction with the receptors of the cell surface to trigger the transduction of signals and to regulate the transcription of genes. The biochemical, biomechanical, protective, and organizational properties of the ECM in a given tissue can substantially change from one to another (for example, lungs vs. skin vs. bone) and even within a tissue (eg. renal cortex vs. renal medulla), as well as from one physiological state to another (normal vs. cancer).
Structure of Collagen
The molecular structure of collagen is commonly associated with that of a macromolecule or complex protein, since we can distinguish up to 19 different types of amino acids, including both the essential and non-essential ones, like arginine, glutamine, glycine, and proline.
The geometric shape that describes the molecular arrangement matches that of a triple helix formed by amino acids chains, and each one is made of around 1400 amino acids, mainly Proline and Glycine. In that structure, the three polypeptide chains are held together by hydrogen bonds in a helical conformation. A collagen molecule will consist on three polypeptide chains, called alpha chains, that will coil to form the helix that describes a dextrorotatory movement in the molecular space.
Around a quarter of the total protein tissue from our body is to collagen, which is the main protein structure that supports the rest of the elements, and which strengthens the connection and union of systems like the tendons, the layers that support the skin, and internal organs, among others. The bones and teeth are made by adding mineral crystals to collagen. Collagen gives structure to our bodies, protecting and supporting the softer tissues and connecting them to the skeleton. But, despite its critical function in the body, collagen is a relatively simple protein:
The structure is a repeated sequence of amino acids that maintains a common element: every third amino acid is a glycine amino acid, the rest of the components are proline and hydroxyproline.
Hydroxyproline, which is a critical element for the stability of the entire collagen structure, is generated by modifying the proline molecules, right after the collagen chain is created. This reaction requires vitamin C, which contributes to the supply of oxygen. However, our organism is not capable of synthesizing it, and there can be certain complications if the external supply is not enough.
A vitamin C deficiency (ascorbic acid) slows down the production of hydroxyproline, which in turn slows down the formation of the collagen chain, or it can even stop the whole process completely, which can cause scurvy. This pathology, which occurs due to a lack of vitamin C, can result in the loss of oral parts and in the easy appearance of bruises with the slightest bump, because, as we know, collagen is the main agent for tissue healing, regeneration, and repair. This is the reason why many collagen supplements also have vitamin C.
The Western diet mainly uses meat, but the parts that we consume do not have a high percentage of the amino acids Proline and Glycine, which means that we do not have a proper supply of these elements. The richest parts are the organs.
Although both amino acids are non-essential, and the body can produce them on its own, there are certain situations that can compromise their synthesis, like in cases of illness, a high volume of physical exercise, emotional stress, or other clinical conditions. In these situations they become “conditionally” essential, and since the body is not able to produce the amount that is needed, the external supply through the diet or other products that are rich in amino acids will become more relevant.
The biosynthetic pathway that is responsible for the production of collagen is a little complex. As we have previously mentioned, there is not one only type of collagen, but a long list, and each one is coded by a specific gene. These genes are found in a wide range of chromosomes. In this way, we can observe the two phases that take place in the synthesis of collagen:
- First Phase: where the RNA messenger (mRNA) of each type is transcribed by the expression of its gene (RNA processing)
- Second Phase: it involves the DNA, which is subjected to a series of processes to produce a final code for each specific type of collagen
Once the final mRNA pro-alpha chain is produced, it will bind to the place where there is a local protein synthesis going on. This step of synthesis is known as translation. This place of the pro-alpha mRNA is on the ribosome membrane, where we can find the so-called Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum or rER, which synthesizes the collagen as well as other proteins that are meant to perform an extracellular function.
Fibroblast and the Formation of Collagen
A fibroblast is a cell that produces and maintains the integrity of the connective tissue. It is responsible for creating the extracellular matrix (ECM) and collagen. Both elements will be those that make up the tissue network, and the fibroblasts will be in charge of its maintenance. Fibroblast is the term that is used to name these cells when they are in their active state. When they have a lower degree of activity, they are known as fibrocytes. During their activity, fibroblasts secrete precursors of the ECM, and they provide the connective tissue with its strength, shape, and ability to bind to other types of tissue.
Procollagen, precursor structure of collagen
Collagen, like most proteins that are meant to be transported to the extracellular spaces where they carry out their function or activity, begins as a larger precursor molecule, known in this case as “Procollagen“.
The formation of collagen involves a series of processes that take place both at an intracellular level, where the cell organelles will intervene, and outside the cell, in the extracellular matrix.
Said formation contains extension proteins at each end that are called amino and carboxyl propeptides. These non-helical portions of the procollagen molecule make it very soluble and therefore easy to move within the cell as it undergoes more modifications. As the collagen molecule is gradually synthesized it will undergo a series of changes, called post-translational modifications, that occur in the Golgi apparatus.
The next step, known as Registration, is when the disulfide bonds are formed between three procollagen chains, arranging them in a suitable alignment. In this way, the chains will fit together, forming a thread (remember that the final collagen structure resembles that of a triple strand).
In the next stage, a critical modification takes place, which is the hydroxylation of the proline and lysine amino acids in the new synthesized protein structure, the procollagen. A series of enzymes (hydroxylases), will be in charge of performing this physiological reaction, which is necessary to obtain hydroxyproline and hydroxylisine.
To do this, these enzymes need vitamin C (its presence is critical, as we have previously seen) along with the mineral iron, which will act as reactive cofactors. In the absence of hydroxyproline, the collagen chain cannot be completed in its corresponding helical structure, and instead, we will get a a new molecular code that will be weaker and which can be easily destroyed. Once again, we can observe the importance of a proper administration of micronutrients, which is all in all essential and critical for our nutrition.
Some of the newly formed hydroxylysine amino acids are glycosylated by adding of sugars, such as galactose and glucose, which is carried out by the galactosyl and glycosyltransferases enzymes, which will need manganese. The glycosylation stage induces unique chemical and structural characteristics to the new collagen molecule and it can affect the size of the fibrils. This enzymatic activity that we have just described is reaches its highest peak in the early stages of life and they decrease as we get older.
As long as the there are intact peptides in the procollagen structure, said molecule will have a high degree of solubility, 1000 times higher than the next stage of the molecule, when the peptide extension will be removed. This fact makes it easier to transport the procollagen molecule inside the cell, where certain structures called microtubules will transport it to the surface, so that it will be released in the extracellular space.
As the procollagen is secreted, a type of enzymes that are called procollagen-proteinase will be responsible for removing the extension peptides at the ends of the molecule. Portions of these pieces are reintegrated into the cell and can regulate the amount of collagen that is produced by means of a feedback mechanism. The final molecule that has been processed is known as collagen and this is when the process of fiber formation begins.
Another post-translational modification occurs to the collagen molecule with a helical triple structure in the extracellular space, so that the fibrils and then the fibers are generated. This step is called cross-linking and it is encouraged by another specialized enzyme called lisiloxidase. This reaction places stable crosslinks within (intramolecular crosslinks) and between the molecules (intermolecular crosslinks), which is the most critical step since it will be when the collagen fibers will gain their strength, resistance, and tension.
The ultrastructure of collagen can be visualized by imagining each individual molecule as a piece of sewing thread. Many of these strands are wound around each other to form a chain (fibrils). These chains of fibrils then form strands, which in turn result in a string, until they form robust cables. This highly organized structure is responsible for the resistance of the tendons, ligaments, bones, and dermis.
When we suffer an injury and the collagen that is in our organism has to be repaired, the connective tissue will not obtain this framework explained above, but rather a weaker structure. That is why healed collagen will have around 70 or 80% of its original robustness.
The synthesis and remodelling of collagen is a process that our body will continue to perform in order to obtain the original structure. This remodelling phase will involve both the ongoing synthesis of collagen and its breakdown. Any imbalance that interferes in this process of creation will produce a greater breakdown than the formation of new collagen tissue.
The complex process of collagen breakdown is equally important in the metabolism of collagen. Normally, the collagen that is present in the connective tissue is restored at a slow and controlled pace. However, with diseases like arthritis or cancer, the degree of breakdown and loss of collagen increases.
In normal healthy tissues where the collagen is fully hydroxylated to form a triple helical structure, the molecule is resistant to the attack of most proteases. Under these normal healthy conditions, only the specialized enzymes called collagenases can attack the collagen molecule. This group of collagenases belongs to a family of enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs.
Many cells in our body can synthesize and release collagenase including the fibroblasts, macrophages, neutrophils, osteoclasts, and tumor cells. One of the reasons why some neoplastic cells can be so invasive is that they release powerful collagenases which can destroy the collagen molecules that surround them. They can even break the basal membranes from the blood vessels and spread throughout the body. Chronic pressure ulcers involve a massive invasion of neutrophils which release a very powerful type of collagenase called MMP-8 which is responsible for the breakdown of connective tissue.
What is Collagen for?
Collagen is a special type of protein that works as a “glue“, supporting the rest of the structure of the body, for the cohesion of the tissues and systems. It forms a network of these protein chains that make up the structures and forms of the body, while providing certain essential characteristics. For example, it provides bone strength, joint flexibility, and smoothness and firmness to the skin.
Since it is the most abundant protein in the body (skin, muscle tissue, blood capillaries, bone system, tendons, or digestive system), specially type 1 collagen which we will explain later on, it is of utmost importance since it is involved in many processes.
Collagen is the main component of the connective tissue which is found in the dermis, one of the layers that forms the skin (located between the epidermis and the hypodermis). The epidermis is in charge of regulating the loss of water in the cells and tissues.
Collagen can also be found in the hypodermis which is the deepest layer, it is made of fat and connective tissue that contains larger blood vessels and nerves. There is a whole network of fibers that establish the growth of the cells and blood vessels where collagen provides structural support. Its function consists on strengthening, and providing support, and sometimes, elastic properties, to the tissues. It is also located around organs, wrapping and protecting them, like in the case of the kidneys or the spleen.
The properties of strength, flexibility and elasticity, may be appreciated from a better perspective when we look at the fact that collagen is also the base for the tendons and ligaments:
- The tendons are elements that link the muscles and bones in order to move
- The ligaments are structures that are mainly located in the joints and that give sustainability and stability to the bones that form them, like maintaining the position of the knee joint
Another type of tissue where we can find collagen is the cartilage, which also belongs to the connective system, and which is specially found in the soft tissues like the nose, ears, certain parts of the knee, the larynx, or the trachea. Its function here is to provide flexibility, support, and movement.
Properties and Benefits of Collagen
The body produces its own collagen to support the skin, bones, hair, nails, muscles and all the organs. However, as time passes, this production begins to decrease, and the symptoms of aging start to appear. Currently, Hydrolyzed Collagen supplements can stimulate the production of beneficial levels of collagen.
While most people are aware of some of the benefits of collagen supplementation, they are still not aware of its potential and how it can improve many different aspects of their health. In fact, once they begin to take collagen, they also begin to experience remarkable changes, and they ask themselves why they have waited so long to include it in their life.
The benefits of collagen (collagen supplements) for our organism are varied as well as important, and in some cases we can claim, without any doubt, that they are almost essential.
Some of the most important and notable benefits are:
- Improving the aspect of the skin, hair, and nails
- Helping to reduce the cellulite and stretch marks
- Protecting, repairing, and regenerating the joints
- Strengthening the gums and teeth
- Helping with the digestive system and inflammatory diseases
- Increasing the metabolism
- Collaborating in detoxification processes
Benefits of Collagen for the skin
The skin is the biggest organ from our body and it is responsible for the perception of the temperature, pressure, and other important functions.
Collagen makes up most of the structure of the skin. Thanks to it, the skin can stay “together”, apart from having a younger aspect and obtaining firmness and elasticity.
Collagen is a key protein to nourish the skin and to give it firmness. Find out how taking collagen can benefit the health and aspect of your skin.
During our youth, the skin is constantly regenerating itself, which helps to maintain these features. Even if collagen is beneficial for the whole body, it is even more so for the skin.
This is due to the fact that, as we age, the epidermis (which is the external layer of the skin) starts to lose its thickness and elasticity, this process is known as elastosis (loss of collagen). With it, the person tends to show more signs of aging and the onset of more wrinkles.
As the skin experiences the chronological aging, the natural structure of the skin begins to deteriorate.
So if our skin starts to age it will be due to a series of factors, like the exposure to the sun, the climate (pollution), genetics, and our own habits (like the lifestyle, for example smoking).
The factor that probably causes more damage is photo-aging, partly because its symptoms are not immediate, and they rather accumulate and appear later in the future.
Photo-aging is a premature aging of the skin that is produced by the exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun, even though there are artificial sources as well. An excess of sun exposure accelerates the elastosis. The most remarkable symptoms of the aging of the skin that are enhanced by the factors that have been previously described are:
- Dry skin
- Onset of dark spots, or the ones that already existed grow in size
- Possible benign tumors
- Flaccidity, due to the loss of elasticity
- Thinner and transparent skin, due to the loss of thickness of the epidermis
- More fragile skin
- The skin is more prone to injuries
What is the difference between the Elastin and Collagen?
We must highlight an important fact, which is the work of elastin, which tends to be confused with that of collagen.
Let’s see what it is all about: Both collagen and elastin provide important benefits for the skin, in fact, they work together to provide firmness, form, and strength to our skin.
As we have been telling throughout the text, collagen is a polypeptide or protein chain that is mainly found in connective or fibrous tissues, making up around a 30% of the muscle tissue of the body.
These fibrous tissues are known as “cell glue” due to their cohesive properties. For example, the cartilage, fat, and tendons are connective tissues. At the same time, collagen can be found in the ligaments, blood vessels, bones, the cornea, and of course, the skin.
Elastin is also a protein that is found in the connective tissue, but, unlike collagen, it is in charge of providing elasticity to the tissues. It is responsible for bringing the tissues back to their “original shape” after being stretched or contracted. This means that elastin is in charge of providing qualities that are similar to a “rubber band”.
Elastin can be found in the walls of the arteries, the lungs, intestines, and once again, in the skin. Here we have some examples of the actions that we can perform thanks to elastin: the blood vessels are able to expand and go back to their previous shape after an increase of the blood flow; when the skin is stretched and we cease the effort, it goes back to its original state.
Therefore, we can deduce that the main difference between collagen and elastin will be:
- Collagen: provides strength and resistance to the traction
- Elastin: provides softness and elasticity to the skin
These proteins are also found at different depths inside the skin. Collagen is abundant in the lower layers of the skin, while elastin is more abundant in the medium layers of the skin. Both will influence the aspect of the skin, more specifically in such characteristic features like the wrinkles, flaccidity, or a lack of tension.
During our youth, both provide a smooth and soft skin, but as we grow old, the proteins deteriorate and they are no longer able to reestablish their properties properly, which obviously affects the skin: collagen will become more rigid (like a brick wall that has been marked), which will result in wrinkles.
Another negative effect is that wound healing slows down. At the same time, the production of elastin is considerably reduced, and our skin loses the ability to go back to its original shape after being stretched. The same thing happens with a rubber band that is stretched multiple times, until there will be a point when its shape is deformed. The most remarkable effects will be seen around the eyes, the jaw, and the neck.
Properties of collagen for the skin
It nourishes, protects, and hydrates the skin
Collagen is essential to keep the skin properly hydrated. It also offers protection against external agents
It increases the volume, reduces the wrinkles and expression lines
As we grow old, the production of collagen decreases and the skin starts to lose its firmness, which results in the onset of wrinkles, flaccidity of the skin, and other similar aging effects. One of the main benefits of collagen for the skin is that it gives its elasticity back.
Reduces the acne
Collagen reduces the acne. Collagen is an essential element for the proper regeneration of the skin, and it removes the spots and whiteheads. It also prevents the appearance of new whiteheads and prevent and reduces the scars.
Collagen can be a good solution to eliminate acne once and for all. This is due to its ability to improve the healing process of wounds.
When we cut our skin, it triggers a healing process that sets our immune system into motion.
The fibroblats will be in charge of increasing the production of collagen. Great amounts of this protein will create the extracellular matrix, so that there is a structure to link other elements together, and to contribute to the healing.
Other chemical substances from the immune system are based on said matrix, and they have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, apart from offering support for the building of tissues.
All of them share the same material, collagen.
During the first stage of healing, type 3 collagen is the abundant one, which is replaced by the type 1 after three weeks, which is more robust, also due to the time that it takes to regenerate the new layers of the skin.
In this way, collagen will be found in any kind of injury, and in acne as well. This pathology is regarded as a disease of the skin that is caused by the inflammation of the sebaceous glands, and a subsequent infection.
To counter this, the body sends a horde of immune agents to attack the bacteria, even though it produces a weakening of the surrounding tissues. Once again, collagen will be necessary to repair and regenerate this scenario, so that the structural matrix can go back to normal.
If we have more collagen available, these agents that intervene in the inflammation that is produce by the acne will be able to perform their function more efficiently, and the elimination of the affected tissues that are no longer usable will be improved as well.
This is a gradual process that will progressively reestablish the original aspect of the skin, and collagen supplementation will be a useful tool to improve this process.
Collagen will also offer protection when using certain cosmetic products and even medicines to combat the acne, since they sometimes will provide a low amount of toxic minerals, like mercury or arsenic. It will also protect from contaminated environments, which tend to cause the onset of acne, like the pollution.
The formation of the free radicals will be another element that will have to be countered to avoid any alteration of our health. Protecting the skin will be an excellent strategy to block these toxic elements. Then, collagen will be responsible for strengthening the structure of the skin, to reduce and prevent any invading agent from entering the organism.
Helps to heal wounds
Collagen improves the overall healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, removal of moles, scars from surgery, etc. It has been proven that collagen accelerates the healing process and it helps to reduce the scars that these injuries may cause, which provides a better cosmetic and esthetic result.
Reduces the flaccidity and cellulite
Collagen reduces the cellulite. If we take into account that collagen is an extremely important protein in order to maintain the tension and firmness of the skin, then, taking a collagen supplement may help to reduce or prevent the flaccidity and cellulite.
How to stimulate the production of collagen on the skin
- Nutrition: following a balanced diet is the key to stimulate the production of collagen. A supply of quality minerals, vitamins, and proteins is fundamental for the formation of collagen. In the same way, a supply of antioxidants is vital to avoid the destruction of collagen. There are a series of foods that favor the production of collagen, like lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and fish. Find out what foods encourage the production of collagen in the skin
- Collagen supplements: taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement daily is, without any doubt, the best way to obtain the collagen that our body needs.
- Gelatin: gelatin is basically cooked collagen, and it is the way in which we can obtain the amino acids that form this protein.
- Vials, masks, creams: a collagen cream can help to repair the skin. Even though collagen cannot cross the dermis layer due to the fact that it is a big molecule, it helps to restore the most superficial layers of the skin, which helps to improve the firmness, nutrition, and overall aspect of the skin.
- Mesotherapy through injections: It is a technique through which we will internally provide nutrients to the skin, which will activate the internal cells of the skin, favoring the migration of the fibroblasts to activate the synthesis of collagen. The best compounds for these injections are vitamin C and silicon.
- Radiofrequency: this technique uses electromagnetic radiations and it affects a deeper level of the skin, it produces heat and improves the activation of the cells to produce collagen. In the long term, it restores the deepest collagen by helping to replace the oldest cells and stimulating the production of new ones. The heat also helps to stimulate the blood flow of the area.
One of the best benefits that a collagen product can offer is achieving a youthful aspect, despite the adverse effects of natural aging among others.
Benefits of Collagen for the hair
Collagen and hair growth are closely linked since, apart from being the most abundant protein in our body, it will also be a component of the hair and the nails.
Even though cosmetic products brag about including collagen in their composition, the true benefits will be obtained through the oral supplementation of collagen.
Those who suffer from hair loss can benefit from supplying collagen to their diet. This fact is applicable both to men and women, and probably the latter are the most affected by this situation.
Why is collagen important to prevent hair loss?
The answer lies in the composition of said protein, as we have already seen, it is made of a series of amino acids, and some of them, which are not frequent in the diet also stimulate the growth of the hair.
Another factor that has to be taken into account as well is the natural aging process which weakens the hair as the collagen levels decrease.
One of the reasons why hair loss occurs is related to the damage to the stem cells from the hair follicles with aging, which happens gradually until it even reaches baldness.
The role of collagen when it comes to improving the growth of the hair is reflected on the fact that it reestablishes the levels and supports:
- The stem cells, which are responsible of the active and latent stages of hair growth, so that the can maintain their correct functioning
- Avoid the weakening and frailty of the hair, which produces its loss
Collagen to reduce the cellulite
The oral administration of collagen peptides can help to improve the aspect of the skin that is affected by the cellulite.
Maintaining the optimal levels of said protein will be an important way of maintaining the tension and firmness of the skin, and with it, avoid or prevent the cellulite, since a 75% of the skin (dermis) is made of collagen, which makes up a 90% of the volume of the skin.
This issue affects a great part of the female population, and it is characterized by the onset of dimples, flaccidity, and an aspect that resembles the “orange peel”.
Like the onset of wrinkles, a lack of elasticity, or a bad hydration, the cellulite is not a health problem, but it can have several triggers: genetics, hormones, sedentary habits, use of medicines, obesity, stress
In this case, making sure that we supply enough collagen can counter these factors, and even eliminate from our body it by carrying out an active nutritional and exercise plan.
How does collagen help to reduce the cellulite?
Due to the undeniable role of collagen in the maintenance of the firmness of the skin, the oral consumption of hydrolyzed collagen peptides can help to reduce the cellulite.
This fact has been proven in a study that was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food called “Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology”.
Said study showed how the collagen peptides help to restore the normal structure of the dermal and sub-dermal tissue, specially in the areas of the legs and glutes.
The research suggests that its bioavailability improves when it is consumed orally, which is better than topical creams.
This double-blind controlled study involved 105 women aged between 24-50 years old who were given a daily dose of 2.5g of collagen peptides or a placebo. After 3 months of treatment, the participants experienced a statistically significant reduction of the cellulite.
At the end of this 6 months study, the group that was given collagen reduced the cellulite approximately in a 9% on average (when compared to the placebo), in women with a normal body mass index (BMI).
This improvement was also observed in women with a BMI over 25, even the effect was less pronounced (4%).
In terms of the undulation of the skin, there was a significant improvement of an 8% on average by measuring the superficial profile of the skin after 6 months of treatment. This was even more remarkable in the study group with a normal BMI, with a reduction of the undulation of the skin of the thigh of a 11.1%.
According to the study, it could be said that the efficacy of the collagen peptides for the treatment of the cellulite is based on its positive impact in the synthesis of the dermal connective tissue.
The cellulite affects approximately to an 85% of the adult women and it is characterized by the onset of little dimples in the legs and glutes, which gives the skin an “orange peel” texture. Obviously, if we want to reduce the cellulite, we need to follow a healthy diet, drink 2-3 liters of water daily, and do physical and toning exercises, apart from taking collagen.
Collagen and joint health
The osteoarthritis is a health problem that is related to the joint system once more, it occurs with the passing of time, and it is also affected by the low production of collagen.
The arthrosis or osteoarthritis is a disease that produces a progressive wear of the cartilage, which is a chronic condition of the joint, it causes its inflammation, and it generally affects the knees, hops, low back, and neck, as well as the fingers, and the base of the thumb both in the hands and feet.
A healthy joint has a firm material, with elastic and flexible properties, which covers and protects the ends of the bones and the joints as well.
It is characterized by being avascular, which means that it does not have blood vessels. This is why it does not have the ability to regenerate itself like the bones, or other elements of the connective tissue. This is caused by the lack of nutrients that are transported through the capillaries.
Its main function is to reduce the friction and work as a “buffer” of the joint tissue. The cartilage can modify its structure and form because it is made of a 70% of water, which can be redistributed through the movement or when we compress it, like when we walk.
In this process, a part of the water from the cartilage enters the joint and covers it. When the pressure ceases, the cartilage reabsorbs the water and the cartilage goes back to its normal state. We do not experience any type of pain during this process, since the cartilage lacks any nerves.
The osteoarthritis reduces the elasticity of the cartilage, which will become more rigid and, therefore, more susceptible to damage.
The most serious case happens when the deterioration and wear reaches a point when it loses its buffering task, which causes a lot of pain.
This is intensified due to the fact that the tendons and ligaments will suffer an excessive tension, along with the danger of the friction between the bones.
It also produces a loss of the range of joint movement. Some of the factors that also worsen this situation along with osteoarthritis and aging are those activities with a high impact on the joints that tend to be practiced by sportspeople, or obesity.
Cartilage is made of 4 substances: collagen, proteoglycans, water, and chondrocytes.
Benefits of collagen for the teeth and the gums
Collagen is present in the gums and in the dental pulp. The dental pulp is the triangular portion of gum that is found between the teeth, more specifically, this part is formed by Type I and Type III collagen.
The inflammation of the gums or gingivitis is a very common problem that affects most of the population. Many people underestimate having bleeding gums, but if it is not treated this simple inflammation can cause a serious disease called periodontitis that can damage the soft tissues and the bones that support the teeth.
What happens is that the bacteria start to accumulate around the teeth, they produce acids that start to erode the bone parts of the teeth. The bacteria and the natural response of the organism to stop the infection start to destroy the bone and the connective tissue (gums) which support the teeth.
When a periodontitis is not properly treated, not only does the bone become weaker, but also the connective tissue that supports the gums. There is a part of the jaw that supports the teeth that is called alveolar bone, which keeps the bone in its place. When the alveolar bone gets smaller, the teeth move from its place until they fall.
Nobody wants to lose their teeth, but once the problem goes so far there are no other options left. If we want to prevent this situation, we need to have a correct dental hygiene, and consume a collagen supplement that will help us to keep the gums healthy, apart from improving the bone density of the jaw, the dental pulp, the alveolar bone, which will possibly avoid the loss of teeth.
Collagen and the Digestive System
Consuming more collagen produces a positive response on the digestive system since it is essential for the formation of the connective tissue that helps to regenerate the protective cover of the intestinal tract.
Nowadays, most of the diseases are related to the digestive system, which tend to be pathologies that produce the inflammation or irritation of the intestinal tract, or which produce changes in the intestinal microbiome, like the leaky gut syndrome, for example.
This disorder produces toxins that can cross the digestive tract and reach the blood flow, which can trigger a serious inflammation.
Those patients with inflammatory diseases of this kind have a lower serum concentration of collagen and, therefore, a lower capacity to regenerate the affected tissue.
In this way, including collagen can reduce the problems that result from said diseases, like Crohn’s or ulcerous colitis. Moreover, it allows to absorb water inside the intestines which helps with the intestinal transit.
Benefits of collagen for the Metabolism
An extra supply of collagen can notably increase the metabolic rhythm, which helps with processes of muscle synthesis. Glycine, which is part of the protein structure of collagen, can delay the aging process thanks to its ability to encourage the growth of the muscles and their recovery.
It is known as the “anti-aging amino acid” due to the fact that it helps with the maintenance of lean tissue of the elderly, it also stimulates the secretion of the growth hormone, prevents the loss of cartilage, contributes to the healing of wounds and tissues, and it even improves the state of the energy and the sport performance.
Glycine is also involved in the production of creatine, the cell energy for immediate use. It also has an antioxidant function, which helps to minimize the damage that the liver experiences when it absorbs strange substances, toxins, or alcohol, accelerating their metabolization and excretion.
Benefits of Collagen for the detoxification of the organism
The liver is one of the biggest organs of the body, and it is in charge of many functions, like the digestion, the storage of nutrients, cleaning the blood, and being part of the immune system.
The maintenance of the health of the liver is a crucial aspect to keep a healthy organism.
The collagen supplements include the necessary amino acids to have a healthy liver.
Glycine is the main amino acid that is found in collagen, which makes up almost a 20% of its amino acids. Glycine is an essential amino acids in order to synthesize the glutathione, which is the most important endogenous antioxidant agent of the organism that helps to detox and provide protection to the cells and the tissues of the body.
Collagen is also rich in the l-arginine amino acid, which reduces the ammonia of the body, which helps the liver with its task of eliminating the ammonia.
Collagen and the health of the heart
Collagen is a supplement that favors the health of the heart. According to an article of the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology“, collagen is vital to preserve the health and the maintenance of the cardiac tissue, and it can be an important marker of the overall health of the heart.
A loss of collagen in the cardiac tissue can lead to changes in the heart that cause a weakening of the cardiac muscles, which means that it will be more susceptible to a heart attack or a stroke.
Moreover, collagen is essential to preserve the flexibility of the veins and arteries. The hardening of the arteries has been regarded as an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases for a long time. Keeping the arteries smooth and flexible can reduce the risk of disease and, to do so, it is vital to make sure that we properly supply collagen to the organism.
Types of Collagen: Functions, characteristics, and properties
There are more than 20 types of collagen that have been studied and which are found in our organism.
Each type is coded by a specific gene, and it is named by using roman numbers. Despite its great number, there are only 5 types which are truly important, like type II, which is related to the health of the cartilages.
The most abundant type of collagen is type I which, along types II and III, which form around 90% of all the collagen.
All types of collagen share a common feature, which is their molecular structure which, as we have already seen, is a triple helix.
This molecular structure is what provides the tissues with strength and resistance. However, each type of collagen has a slightly different composition of amino acids, which means that they wll provide specific functions.
The main function of the first 20 types of collagen
- Type I: It is formed by rosenthal fibers that are part of the body, and which are found in the skin, hair, nails, organs, bones, ligaments. Type I collagen contributes to the formation of the bones and it can be found in the gastrointestinal tract as well. It is very important for wound healing, providing elasticity to the skin apart from support the tissue to prevent it from breaking.
- Type II: It is mainly found in the connective tissue, and it helps to build and regenerate the cartilage (it forms more than a 50% of the cartilage). When the levels of this type drop, the cartilage breaks down, which is one of the symptoms of arthritis. Type II collagen is produced by the chondrocytes, a cell component of the cartilage.
- Type III: It makes up the reticular fibers and it is a fundamental component of the extracellular matrix that makes our organs and skin. It is applied to the fibrous protein of the bones, cartilage, dentin, tendons, and other connective tissues. In general, it goes with the type I and it helps to give elasticity and firmness to the skin. It also forms the blood vessels and the tissues inside the heart. For these reasons, a type III collagen deficiency is related with a higher risk of breaking the blood vessels, and even premature death.
- Type IV: Its importance lies on the fact that is in charge of the synthesis of the basal lamina which is found in the endothelial cells that form the tissue that surrounds the organs, the muscles, and the fat. The basal lamina is necessary for diverse nervous and vascular functions, like aligning the digestive organs and the respiratory surfaces, for example.
- Type V: It is necessary both for the synthesis and regulation of the diameter of the fibrils (Fibrillogenesis).
- Type VI: It is an important component of the extracellular matrix that forms a micro-fibril net that is closely related to the cell and the neighboring basal membrane. The type VI collagen is also found in the interstitial space of many tissues, including the muscle, the tendons, the skin, the cartilage, and the inter-vertebral disk.
- Type VII: It is one of the main components of the anchoring fibrils for the dermal-epidermal adhesion on the dermal side, in the inter-phase of the dense lamina and the papillary dermis.
- Type VIII: It is a product of the endothelial cells, keratinocytes, mast cells, and micro-vascular endothelial cells. The importance of this collagen regards the vasculation, since it provides elastic properties to the blood vessels and the capillaries.
- Type IX: Its heterotrimeric molecules are found in the surface of the collagen fibrils of the type II collagen in the cartilage, which create macro-molecular bridges between the fibrils and other components of the cartilage matrix. Type IX collagen is important for the cohesive and compressible properties of the cartilage.
- Type X: It plays a role in growth, development, and remodeling of the joint cartilage and it facilitates the endochondral ossification (growth of the bones) through the regulation of the mineralization of the matrix. The type X collagen is related to the healing of fractures of the synovial joints and the adaptive remodeling of the mandibular condyle.
- Type XI: It is mainly found in the extracellular matrix of the cartilage, it is important for the integrity and development of the skeleton.
- Type XII: It works along with types I and III in order to give plasticity to the fibers of the tendons and ligaments, which are essentially elastic properties to deal with the tensions that they undergo.
- Type XIII: It is a subgroup of the type II, and it can act as a adhesion molecule, apart from offering a general functionality in the cell membrane.
- Type XIV: This type of collagen regulates the early stages of the fibrillogenesis in the connective tissues with a high mechanical demand.
- Type XV: It is widely distributed in all the tissues, but its mostly found in the basal membrane, which means that it can adhere the basal membranes to the underlying stroma of the connective tissue.
- Type XVI: It is found in the smooth muscle tissues, including the cell component of the arteries, providing them with elasticity.
- Type XVII: It stands out due to its ability to strengthen and stabilize the skin (it maintains the cohesion of the different layers of the skin).
- Type XVIII: It is an important functional component of the micro-environment of the hepatic matrix, and it is crucial for the survival of the hepatocytes during injuries and stress.
- Type XIX: It is a component of the extracellular matrix that is involved in the formation of the basal membrane, apart from being involved in the initial stages of the differentiation of the cells from the skeletal muscle.
- Type XX: It provides the necessary resistance to deal with efforts and tensions in different connective tissues, like the tendons, apart from being present in the cornea or cartilage as well.
Types of Collagen and related Diseases
The problems and diseases that are related to the different types of collagen involve different factors, like genetic causes or nutritional deficiencies, which end up producing an alteration in the formation of the different collagen structures (types).
Some of the most common diseases are due to a collagen deficit are:
- Osteogenesis imperfecta: it is caused by a mutation of type I collagen which produces the fragility of the bone system and problems in the connective tissue; the level of severity goes from a low level, to a medium level, which can be lethal.
- Chondrodysplasia: it is caused by a mutation of the type II collagen which produces a deficiency of the cartilaginous tissue and the rest of the structures.
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: it is caused by the mutation of even 10 types of collagen, but the most serious one corresponds to the type III, which turns the joints lax that degenerates into a joint hypermobility, which produces instability, frequent dislocations, and acute pain.
- Alport Syndrome: it is mainly caused by the mutation of type IV collagen, and its symptoms cause the inflammation if the kidneys, eye problems, and even loss of hearing.
- Osteoporosis: it does not have a genetic condition, related to age, as a consequence of the reduced levels of collagen in the skin and the bones (it reduces the regeneration of type I collagen).
- Knobloch syndrome: caused by a mutation of type XVIII collagen, and some of the known symptoms are the protusion of the brain tissue and the degeneration of the retina.
Sources of Collagen
The natural sources of collagen are exclusively of animal origin, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, and the main ones are fish, cow, pork, chicken, and eggs.
Marine collagen comes from fish, which is one of the sources that has the highest bioavailability, and almost certainly will lead the list of the different types of collagen. This feature mainly belongs to the marine collagen peptides, which are smaller particles that are easier to absorb. The bioavailability refers to the ability to determine the efficacy of the nutrients we consume. Marine collagen tends to double the bioavailability of bovine and porcine collagen. The marine source is obtained from the scales, skin, thorns, and fins. It is necessary to distinguish between the marine collagen derived from fish (advisable) and the one obtained from crustaceans.
This collagen is a complex structural protein that helps to maintain the strength and flexibility of the skin, ligaments, joints, bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, gums, eyes, nails, and hair. It can fight the aging process, heal and regenerate the bones, improve the wound healing process, increase the protein supply, and provide antibacterial properties.
The composition of the marine collagen peptides has a high percentage of glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline. These peptides are quickly absorbed by the cells of the intestine and released into the bloodstream to be transported throughout the body. This allows them to stimulate the cells of the skin, the joints, and bones, which will lead to the synthesis of collagen through the activation and growth of the cells.
Type I collagen is the most abundant type and it is regarded as the best source of collagen for medicinal purposes. The benefits of this type of collagen are reflected in the extraordinary strengthening of the connective tissues and bone structures, apart from giving firmness and tension to the skin, obtaining a softer skin, optimizing the hydration, having more flexibility, and preventing the formation of wrinkles which results in a youthful appearance, free from the signs of aging.
Marine collagen stimulates the production of collagen by the organism, as well as the proper regeneration and synthesis of the structures, intervening in the mineralization matrix of bone cells, helping with the healing and regeneration of the bone.
Another important component that is present in marine collagen is collagenin, which is a peptide with an antimicrobial function. In this sense, it could be useful in order to inhibit the growth of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, also known as staphylococcus.
It is advisable to purchase marine collagen supplements with a formula that also contains ingredients to improve its absorption and enhance its effects, like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.
This type comes from cows, and it is also known as cow cartilage. It is a natural protein present in the cartilages, bones, skin, and muscle tissue. It is mainly made up by Type I and III collagen, which are the main components of the skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, gums, teeth, eyes, and blood vessels. Together, type I and III collagen make up more than a 90 percent of the collagen in our bodies.
While we can consume collagen from different food sources, it can be difficult to consume the parts of the animals that contain the collagen. One way to obtain bovine collagen from food sources is to make a bone stock, which will provide great benefits. Another choice that may be more effective and convenient will be using collagen supplementation.
Collagen is a source of glycine and proline, which means that it will be involved in the synthesis of creatine, the regeneration of the muscles and it will also stimulate the production of collagen. Glycine is necessary for the maintenance of the DNA and RNA strands, which carry our genetic code, which is an essential element for the correct formation of the cells. The amino acid proline, which is also found in a high percentage, plays a critical role in the ability of the organism to synthesize its own collagen.
Bovine collagen can be used for several health conditions, like:
- Patients with arthritis: a degenerative disease of the cartilage which causes pain due to the friction between the bones, apart from reducing the ability to buffer the joints; in this case, said pathology can be fought by regenerating the cartilage.
- Digestive system health: mainly due to the supply of glycine, which is intervenes in the digestion by increasing the gastric acids to digest the food properly, and to prevent heartburn as well as the gastroesophageal reflux. It can also help to treat the leaky gut syndrome and the inflammatory bowel disease, which tend to involve a low stomach acid.
- Improves the night rest: since the most abundant amino acid in collagen is glycine, which is an immuno-nutrient that supports a healthy inflammatory response, so that it provides a deeper and more restful sleep, since it can stimulate certain neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep.
- Skin protection: since it contributes to the formation of elastin, which along other components, are responsible for maintaining the youthful tone, texture, and appearance of the skin. It can also help to reduce the wrinkles and swelling and to fight other signs of aging.
- Muscle recovery: it offers structural functionality to support the tendons and ligaments, so that the athletes can recover from the physical efforts of their workouts
Type II collagen is the most abundant type in this source, which is the best one for the regeneration of the cartilage. The part of the chicken with the highest percentage of this substance is the sternum.
It is therefore a tool to counter the symptoms of joint disorders. Also, chicken cartilage has chondroitin and glucosamine, two substances that also provide benefits for the maintenance of the bones. With this, it would be possible to clock an autoimmune disease like the rheumatoid arthritis from its early stages, or to relieve and mitigate the symptoms in other cases.
The most common way to find this source of collagen is as Undenatured Type II Collagen.
Another source of collagen is both the eggshell and the egg yolk, where we can find Type I collagen. Types 3, 4 and 10 can also be found in this source of collagen but, without any doubt, the most important one is type 1. This source also provides other important elements: glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid, as well as certain amino acids that are involved in the building of tissues or wound healing. We will obtain other factors that encourage the production of collagen like the vitamins B and E.
How can we combine Collagen?
As we have seen, Collagen can be obtained straight from the natural source, or rather increase the presence of precursor nutrients. Nevertheless, in terms of efficacy, taking Collagen Supplements is a specially useful choice. We can take collagen isolate, capsules, or powder, or even add other supplements to enhance its benefits. In other cases, there are supplements that include a wide range of ingredients in their composition, and all of them have the same goal, which is to increase the amount of collagen in our organism.
Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid is a component naturally present in the body. It belongs to the group of the glycosaminoglycan (polysaccharide molecular structures that make up the connective tissue) and it is spread throughout all the connective, neural, and epithelial tissue. It is one of the most relevant members of the extracellular matrix, and it provides structural support to the cells, joints and skin. Each day, a percentage of this hyaluronic acid is resynthesized.
Some of its benefits consists on preserving the health of the joint tissue and fighting diseases like osteoarthritis. It is partly responsible for giving strength to the cartilage as well as the ability to deal with mechanical compression efforts.
Its role in relation to the skin is linked to its optimal hydration, which at the same time gives it elasticity. Its presence may reduce the symptoms of aging that are reflected in the aspect of the skin.
The combination of Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid supplements is one of the best ways to stop the symptoms of aging (anti-aging effect) and to preserve a youthful skin (flexibility and firmness) and to relieve the joint pain, by reducing the inflammation around the joint and favoring the regeneration of the cartilage tissue. Also, hyaluronic acid allows the correct synthesis of collagen.
Collagen and Glucosamine
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the joint cartilage and the connective tissues, where it supports the proper functioning of the joints. The process of natural aging and trauma can deteriorate the joint tissues, which restricts the ability of the body to recharge the glucosamine deposits. For this reason, some people can benefit from an external supply through its supplementation. This group of people includes all those with pathologies that are related to joint pain, either stimulated by the deterioration of the tissues with the passing of time, caused by osteoarthritis, or the recovery from a surgery. Consuming Glucosamine and Collagen can reduce the breakdown of collagen to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis (Study I and Study II).
Collagen and Magnesium
Taking collagen and magnesium is an excellent way of providing the body with 2 substances that are actively involved in the proper functioning of the connective tissue. They are essential for a good functioning of the muscles and tendons, and even other harder tissues like the cartilage and the bones. Thanks to the supply of Collagen and Magnesium, our body has a better capacity to regenerate these tissues.
Taking magnesium as a supplement in capsules, tablets, or powder stimulates the synthesis of proteins. Since collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, the combined consumption of these substances will increase the synthesis of collagen.
The role of collagen and magnesium supplements is to accelerate the regeneration of the tissues like the skin, bones, tendons, and muscles. Moreover, apart from the properties of collagen to preserve a healthy connective tissue, we have to add those of magnesium. Magnesium is a very important mineral for human life. It intervenes in the regulation of the heart rate, reduces the fatigue and tiredness, and prevents the onset of muscle cramps.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in several reactions as a catalyst inside the organism. He is in charge of maintaining a series of aspects of our health, such as:
- Providing a correct function of the muscles and the nervous system
- Supporting the cardiovascular function and the maintenance of the heart rate
- Supporting the immune system
- Favoring the rest and relaxation
- Controlling the glycemia
- Strengthening the bone system
- Promoting the production of energy
- Contributing to the formation of the bones
Taking collagen with magnesium is involved in the maintenance of the bone and muscle system, since it avoids any deficiency and contributes to the proper performance of the physiological processes.
What is collagen with magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral for our organism that is involved in multiple important processes.
A magnesium deficiency can cause spams and muscle cramps, worse digestions, and even cognitive disorders, like anxiety, and difficulties to fall asleep. An inadequate level is also related to migraines.
When it comes to purchasing a magnesium supplement, it is important to known what are the salts depending on their bioavailability.
Taking collagen with magnesium will guarantee the proper functioning of the connective tissue of our body, since both substances are involved in the process of such an important function. Magnesium is involved in the production of collagen.
What is the amount of collagen + magnesium that we should consume daily?
Collagen is a protein that has to be consumed daily in our diet since, as we age, the production of collagen in our organism falls sharply.
A collagen and magnesium supplement can be found in powder or capsules format. These are the most common ways of taking collagen with magnesium.
The recommended daily amount for collagen with magnesium, depending on the dose format, would be:
- 10g for powders
- 6 tablets for capsules
If we do not take collagen with magnesium, we will experience the symptoms of a collagen deficiency. One of the ways to stimulate and enhance the production of collagen will be a proper supply of magnesium.
How long does it take to produce its effects?
Depending on how we take the collagen, the effect can take a longer or a shorter period of time. Most of the collagen supplements can be found in powder or capsules. It is advisable to take the powder, since it is a product that will normally ave a higher concentration of collagen with regard to the capsules.
Another important feature is that the powder is absorbed more easily in the area of the intestinal tract.
We have to make sure that the collagen supplements have a high percentage of this substance, so that its effects will be faster.
Moreover, the collagen powder can be added to juices and shakes, which facilitates the consumption of this supplement.
What are the benefits of collagen with magnesium?
Collagen with magnesium have a lot of benefits for human health. If we take into account that magnesium is involved in the production of collagen naturally, taking both substances is a great choice.
Magnesium plays an important role for the health of our bones. It works together with vitamin D in order to perform the absorption of calcium correctly.
The importance of calcium for the formation of the bones is such, that it is capable of stimulating the calcitonin, which is a hormone that is released by the thyroid gland and which is responsible for regulating the levels of calcium, avoiding an excess and its possible accumulation in the wrong place.
Magnesium also affects the activity of the osteoblasts and osteoclasts that provides mineral bone density and, therefore, stronger bones which are less prone to suffer fractures. Moreover, women can specially benefit since it reduces the cases of osteoporosis by reducing the deficiency of this mineral.
Why should we combine collagen with magnesium?
Taking magnesium and collagen is a way to provide the organism with a proper protein structure to support the youthful aspect of the skin, and it is also a catalyst to properly trace the patterns of the resynthesis of tissues; along with the task of the maintenance of the bone system, preventing any deficiency and contributing to the proper execution of the physiological processes.
Gelatin, a great source of collagen
Gelatin is directly related to collagen. We know that collagen is the biggest structure that we can find in the connective tissue, the skin, and bone system, which means that it has more collagen than any other type of protein.
We also know the risks that a lack of the production of collagen entails, something that inevitably happens as we grow old and which can result, among other things, in osteoporosis.
Collagen is found in those parts of the animal that we rarely consume, at least not without cooking.
Unlike our ancestors, we tend to discard said parts of the animal, like the skin, organs, cartilaginous tissue… which are not frequent in our diet.
However, we actually tend to cook them, like the skin or the tendons. Cooking this parts will actually result in gelatin.
Gelatin is the cooked form of collagen, which is the way we can obtain the amino acids and the rest of nutrients that are found in these animal part, like the tendons, which we would probably refuse otherwise.
When we talk about nutritional products, the gelatin comes in powder, which is practically colorless and flavorless, which is obtained from the dehydration and isolation the animal parts, as we have previously mentioned, the skin, bones, and other tissues.
Its use is mainly justified due to their properties since they allow to give consistency to any dish, since it has a similar effect to glue.
It is precisely these gelatinous characteristics that improve the regeneration of the cartilage and the strengthening of the connective tissue, that also provide elasticity.
Benefits of gelatin
Gelatin is one of the most amazing superfoods with benefits for our health, since it can prevent the onset of wrinkles as well as improving our mental health, or supporting the digestions.
- Gastrointestinal health: like collagen, the gelatin prevents certain intestinal problems, improving the lining of the digestive tract and restoring the health of the flora. It is related to the prevention of the leaky gut syndrome. By reinforcing these tissues, we are improving the way our organism maintains a barrier against toxins and bacteria that could reach the bloodstream. It also improves the disposition of the gastric juices in order to significantly favor the digestions.
- Joint Protection: it contributes to reducing the disorders that produce the deterioration of the joints and which produce pain and inflammation, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. As we grow old, we tend to develop joint rigidity, which causes pain and limits the mobility, which are symptoms that only get worse with time, since collagen keeps on breaking down and deteriorating. Both the gelatin and the collagen help to stop the chronic inflammatory responses, which reduces the pain and stops the progressive disease that leads to alterations in the functioning of the joints. It contributes to the strengthening of the bones and to maintaining a proper mineral density.
- It improves the quality of sleep: this is partly due to the properties of glycine which is found in high concentrations in the gelatin. In this way, the gelatin can reduce those problems that are caused by a lack of sleep or difficulties to fall asleep.
- It improves the state of mind and provides cognitive support: glycine is regarded as an inhibiting neurotransmitter, which means that it tends to behave as a completely natural antidepressant or anxiolytic, which does not produce the damage and side effects of medicines. The consumption of gelatin can favor the release of certain hormones that produce a positive response in aspects like a decrease of stress, mental clarity, and relaxation. Some of these hormones are the norepinephrine or GABA.
- Health of the skin: the consumption of gelatin can improve certain aspects of the skin, like the wrinkles, the effect of the sun, stretch marks, as well as other symptoms that are related to aging. Thanks to its properties, the gelatin provides the cell regeneration of the skin, by stimulating the formation of new collagen, which achieves a more youthful appearance. It helps to counter the harmful effect of the free radicals and their oxidative damage to the cells.
- Cardiovascular health: it regulates the amount of methionine, which can be a risk for health problems if there is an excess, due to the fact that it increases the amounts of homocysteine in the blood. These are related to the inflammation markers as well as to arteriosclerosis and bone problems.
If we keep on processing gelatin, we will get another important product called Hydrolyzed Collagen.
What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Hydrolyzed Collagen is a form of collagen that has been subjected to a hydrolysis process, which means that its molecular structure has been changed to obtain smaller units. Most of the bonds that link the different amino acids have been broken to obtain the peptides. This will ultimately be the way in which the absorption of the protein takes place in the intestines. This means that a hydrolyzed protein is practically digested, which facilitates the absorption and produces a quick transit through the stomach.
Even so, it still has a high percentage of the following amino acids: glycine, lysine and proline, which are found in smaller proportions in other protein sources. These are related to the stimulation of the growth of the connective tissues to counter the tendency to reduce the natural production of the structures with the passing of time.
Benefits of Hydrolyzed Collagen
The hydrolyzed collagen, due to its particular structure, will be absorbed really fast, its amino acids will be available in less than 30 minutes. The amino acid profile (aminogram) of the hydrolyzed collagen favors the production of benefits for the tissues.
One of the most important points is related to its function of protecting and repairing the joints. In fact, it contributes to replacing the synovial fluid that flows in the spaces between the joints, which contributes to the protection of the cartilage function, which behaves like a buffer that reduces the damage of the joint impact as well as the friction between the ends of different bones.
Hydrolyzed collagen provides amino acids that are involved in the growth of the muscles. In terms of the maintenance of muscle mass, it helps to maintain a positive nitrogen balance thanks to its supply of amino acids and their easy absorption. Like in the case of gelatin, elements like glycine have the following benefits: increasing the energy, helping to improve the digestion, providing structural support for the tissues, contributing to eliminate the toxins, or regulating certain cell functions.
Since more than a third of our body is made of collagen structures, it will be very useful to counter the effects of the passing of time and to improve the health of several parts of our body: skin, hair, nails, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments…
What are the differences between Hydrolyzed Collagen and Gelatin?
Although both substances share practically the same composition in terms of their amino acids, as well as most of their benefits, there are certain differences:
- Gelatin dissolves only in hot water
- Gelatin forms a viscous gel when mixed with water
- Gelatin is easier to digest
Some of the benefits that they share are:
- Skin Health
- Growth and maintenance of the muscle mass
- Strengthening the connective tissues: tendons, ligaments, cartilage…
- Relieves the joint pain
- Health of the bone system
Effective Dose of Collagen
The effective dose of collagen powder is approximately 10g a day to provide the benefits for the skin and the protection of the joints. It can be taken with or without a meal.
If we are talking about the dose of an undenatured collagen, we would be talking about 40mg per day to treat joint pain and disorders like osteoarthritis.
Why do we lose collagen with age?
One of the symptoms of aging is the loss of collagen.
Particularly, the factors that drop the production of collagen with age result in a less youthful appearance, and the possible deterioration of the bone system, which involves the joints, and specially the cartilage.
Some of the symptoms of the aging of the skin are the onset of wrinkles, loss of firmness and elasticity, flaccidity, or more time to heal wounds. Collagen can help to reduce or slow down the development of these signs.
Collagen is susceptible to the deterioration: it slowly breaks down with time. The cells of the skin that are called fibroblasts are capable of producing collagen. They even replace the broken collagen fibers for new ones when it is necessary.
Unfortunately, as we grow old, our ability to replace the damaged collagen decreases and a series of irregularities occur.
This process eventually leads to wrinkles. Therefore, if we want to prevent and eliminate the wrinkles we need to reduce the breakdown of collagen and increase its production. But, why does it happen? Let’s see it now:
Factors that lead to a loss of Collagen
- Free radicals: they are substances that cause damage to the cells, which accelerates the symptoms of aging. We are constantly exposed to them, either due to toxic environments or environmental pollution, as well as the exposure to ultraviolet rays that come from the sun, even though it can also be caused by artificial lightning. For instance, smoking also worsens this process due to the fact that the chemicals it contains affect a group of enzymes that are involved in the synthesis of collagen. All these factors produce a progressive deterioration of our skin which is why our body needs to produce more collagen than the one it can actually supply.
- Decrease of the natural production of both collagen and elastin. They are unequivocal signs that our organism does not have the same faculties that it had when we were young. At this advanced stage, the production of collagen is lower than its breakdown and, therefore, we will experience a progressive decrease of its concentration. Women are also affected by the decrease of estrogens as well.
- Disease: the drop in the production of collagen can be caused by a pathology or disorder that involve the proper absorption of fundamental nutrients for the proper formation of the protein structure.
- Nutritional deficiencies: a diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals will even block the proper amount of collagen. Vitamin C is one of the most important in this process.
Symptoms of a lack of Collagen
Some of the most important ones are:
- Hair loss
- Fragility of the nails
- The aspect of the skin worsens: wrinkles, loss of firmness and elasticity, flaccidity, more time to heal wounds, bruises
- Muscles: stiffness, cramps, worse muscle recovery after physical efforts
- Joint point: caused by the degeneration of the cartilages
- Teeth: pain, and loss of strength to keep them anchored to the gums
- Blood vessels: loss of elasticity, worse blood flow, pain in the chest, dry eyes, headaches, difficulty to breathe…
How to stimulate the production of collagen?
There are a few strategies to improve the natural production of collagen. Some of them are mainly to increase the consumption of foods that directly provide collagen, or those that provide the necessary micronutrients to strengthen our system to perform the synthesis of collagen.
In the first case, any meat of animal origin can provide collagen. However, the highest concentrations tend to be found in parts that are not generally consumed by most of the population: the skin, tongue, tripe, “pig trotters”… We can always cook a bone stock or use the parts of a fish to make a soup.
These are some of the vitamins and minerals that are found in food sources that stimulate the natural production of collagen:
- Vitamin A: carrots, peaches…
- Vitamin C: mainly citrus fruits, even though it can also be found in dark green leaf vegetables, like spinach or kale…
- Lycopene: tomatos, peppers… red vegetables in general
- Antocyadins: cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, berries…
- Trace elements: like copper and sulfur can be mainly found in nuts or legumes
Lysine and proline are involved in the synthesis of collagen, and they can be found in complete protein sources, like meat, dairy products, or eggs.
Who can benefit from taking collagen?
Collagen supplements are advised when we are older than 25-30 years, at this point it is estimated that the production of collagen begins to drop a 1-1.5% every year. This means the from the age of 60 onward, more than half of the collagen deposits will be empty (the production is lower than the synthesis).
Another reason to take care of a healthy skin, is the exposure to the sun and toxic environments, which increase the production of the free radicals. In this sense, it becomes very important to preserve the properties of the skin, such as its firmness, elasticity, and softness, and to avoid their breakdown caused by these agents, which accelerates the premature aging of this organ.
Athletes and sportspeople have plenty of reasons to include collagen in their diet. They suffer a high wear of the joints as a consequence of the continuous impacts and movements, which also produce fibril breaks. Thus, if we want to protect the joints as well as reducing the recovery phase between the workouts sessions, the use of collagen will be a positive factor.
The elderly public, specially those with bone-related diseases like osteoarthritis, arthritis, can favor the maintenance of the bone mineral density, which results in the strengthening of the bones and a lower risk of fractures. In all cases, reducing the pain and inflammation are the main objectives.
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