Everything You Need to Know About Collagen

Adding collagen peptides as a daily supplement is very beneficial whether you’re male or female, 20, 40 or 60 years old, active or inactive. Remember that collagen supports joints, ligaments and tendons. It makes our skin shine and our hair grow stronger.

What is collagen and why is it important?

It’s one of the top building blocks in your body. Collagen proteins form a major part of every connective tissue – that’s your bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments, hair and skin. We manufacture it ourselves from protein-rich food, but as we get older the body produces less. Hence, the demand for a supplement that the body can easily absorb.

As we get older starting in our twenties our body produces less collagen at a declining rate of 1.5% per year. This leads to signs of aging such as wrinkles, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, weaker joints and muscles and digestive issues. Science shows that by ingesting collagen we can replenish collagen levels to combat the aging process and gain the benefits that may follow. Our bodies simply depend on collagen to do things like keep skin hydrated, plump hair and nails, keep joints healthy and robust, keep muscles strong, and keep the digestive system working properly – to name a few.

Collagen is a vital protein that makes up 30% of the total protein in our bodies 80% of our skin hair muscles joints and 90% of our bone mass. In other terms it’s pretty important. 

If my body already produces collagen, why should I take a supplement? Can’t I just eat more protein?

You could eat protein, but there’s no guarantee that it will produce more collagen for your body. With a good supplement, the manufacturer will have done the work for you, breaking down the amino acids so they will be used.

Why is collagen on-trend now?

Collagen supplements have been available for some time – mainly for athletes who wanted to protect their joints. However, studies and anecdotal evidence have emerged in the past five years, indicating that collagen could be good for your skin’s elasticity. A ​2014 trial​ looking at the effect of collagen peptides found a significant difference in the skin’s elasticity after two months on the supplement, whilst ​this 2015 study​ showed women who took the nutritional collagen drink had fewer wrinkles than the control group (who had a placebo). As most of us prefer smooth skin, the beauty industry sat up and took notice. Interest has been growing since then. 

Can I put collagen on my skin to get the same effect?

Up until recently, mainstream usage of collagen has mainly been known as lotions, topicals and injections. This has misguidedly led people to perceive collagen as something to apply on the skin as opposed to something to ingest. Since collagen is created inside the body, products that contain collagen such as lotions and topicals don’t have the same effects as consuming it. That said when we consume collagen we can regenerate cells and tissue throughout the body for benefits in appearance health and well-being.

What are the benefits of taking collagen supplement?

Allow at least two months for the results to show up. Whilst it will vary from face to face, look for suppleness, elasticity, hydration and less noticeable wrinkles. 

What form of collagen; Bovine or Marine?

Chicken, beef, or marine — these are all types of collagen powders you will see on the market. While the original source may be the same from brand to brand, the composition may not be. Bovine (beef) collagen is a type 1 and 3 collagen product sourced from cow hides. It is typically used to support ‘beauty’ skin, hair and nails as well as gut and joint health. Marine (fish) collagen is made from fish skin and scales and contains primarily type 1 collagen.

What is hydrolyzed collagen?

Unhydrolyzed collagen: This is the non-processed form of collagen where the amino acids are still fully bound to one another in full strands. Unhydrolyzed collagen is very strong and durable, but also very difficult for the body to digest. You won’t see it very often because it’s relatively ineffective to be taken as an oral supplement. 

Collagen peptides (also known as collagen hydrolysate):  this is the form you’ll see most often. The hydrolyzation process breaks down the amino acids into smaller chains making them more bioavailable to the body. As a result, they’re absorbed into the bloodstream faster and easier.

Gelatin: Gelatin is collagen that has undergone only partial-hydrolyzation, leaving a powder or gel that will only dissolve in hot liquids. Since it has not undergone complete hydrolysis, the proteins are not entirely broken down making gelatin more difficult for the body to absorb. 

Type 1,2 or 3 collagen?

There are many different types of collagen in our bodies (even as many as 28 different types). But three of them (called type 1, type 2 and type 3) form around 90% of all of the collagen in your body. The skin mainly contains Type 1 and 3. In short these are the benefits of each of the three common types:

Type 1 collagen is known for its beneficial effects on hair, skin, and nails. 

Type 2 collagen is beneficial for maintaining bone and joint health. However, it shouldn’t be taken together with type 1 and 3. 

Type 3 collagen supports your skin, muscles, and blood vessels. It’s also a major component of the extracellular matrix making up our organs. You’ll usually find type 3 alongside type 1.

Type 4 and 5 collagen are less commonly found in a supplement, but they’re also much less commonly needed. Type 4 will deal with the filtration systems in the kidneys and offer some protection to your brain, while type 5 will deal with, most notably, hair and create the cells of a pregnant women’s placenta.

Additional ingredients?

Needless to say, pure, high-quality collagen powder is colourless and flavourless (for the most part) — unless it’s mixed with flavouring or extracts. If it’s yellow, brown, or any other visible colour and has an “off” taste, it probably isn’t high quality and shouldn’t be something you put into your body. Another way to determine whether it’s good quality is the number of ingredients — the less there is on the label, the better the product. Some ingredients are helpful carriers for the collagen and support the many amino acids in doing their job. Some of these carriers are Hyaluronic acids and Vitamin C which are beneficial in combination with collagen type 1 and 3.  

Why would I take both a collagen supplement and a hyaluronic acid supplement? Don’t they do the same thing?

Collagen and hyaluronic acid are the key components of healthy, youthful skin (as well as joints). They are a powerful duo that support one another, but individually they have very different benefits. Taking both is ideal if you are looking for a top notch anti-aging supplement plan.

How do I take collagen supplements?

The best way is in powder form, from a reputable company that pays attention to its manufacturing process and sources. Unfortunately, the collagen supplements are not a regulated industry, so you do have to do your research properly. Read more here.

What are the other benefits of collagen?

In addition to better skin, you may notice longer hair and nails and more supple joints. If you are following any strength programme in your fitness regime, you may also notice a quicker recovery from exercise and a gradual increase in muscle mass. There’s also some indication of longer-term health benefits. Collagen supplements can guard against bone density loss (osteoporosis) and boost your heart health, although more research is needed.

Are there any side effects of taking collagen supplements?

If you are allergic to eggs or shellfish, be aware that some collagen supplements use these sources. Always check the label or ask your supplier where it’s from! Beyond that, some people report heartburn or an odd taste after drinking different brands.

Is there anything else I should know?

If you are in it for the beauty, give your collagen a head-start by reducing the environmental impact on your skin. Stress, sun damage and sleep deprivation all contribute to us looking older and they can easily be corrected. So, our deeply unfashionable advice is to drink more water, head to bed earlier and use sunscreen, alongside your skin-boosting supplements. 

Enjoy some more reading: 

The Best Time to Take Collagen for Your Beauty and Health Goals

The top benefits of taking collagen supplement according to science 

Three ways to add collagen to your diet

5 Common Collagen Myths 


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