Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is composed of amino acids or peptides. Collagen holds the body's bones, cartilage, skin and blood vessels together and it promotes tissue growth, maturation and movement; it is also found under the skin and it prevents the skin from sagging over time. Our bodies slowly lose collagen starting in our 20s, and skin creams and therapies from animal connective tissue seem to be an effective means of counteracting the body's aging process, and they do not have any side effects.
Today, collagen products are everywhere, and although collagen is known for its touted skin care benefits, as well as its being a major ingredient in lip enhancers and injections, celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian suggest that people should drink collagen, and products derived from collagen are found not only in skin creams and dietary supplements, but even in pillowcases and aunts, and Kardashian has even been known to sell collagen supplements.
1. Collagen for arthritis and wound healing
Starting in our 20s, the body produces less and less collagen, which can cause the body's skin to sag and wrinkle, our bones and joints to become weak and stiff, hair to become thinning, etc. Also, a diet high in sugar, excessive sun exposure and smoking can reduce the level of collagen in the body.
The molecular structure of collagen is called a complex triple helix, which is like three twisted strings. The interaction of certain molecules requires the triple helix to function, and there are about 30 different types of helix, however, the majority of collagen in our body is of three types: type 1: gives the body skin firmness; type 2: gives joint mobility; and type 3: gives tissue elasticity.
Most research on collagen has focused on treating arthritis and promoting wound healing, and researchers have found that collagen supplements are very effective, and although there are few studies on the subject, oral collagen does reduce the molecules that trigger inflammation and disease in the body.
2. What should we know about hot drinks?
When used in creams and lotions, collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin on their own and we tend to wash them off in the wash, while soluble or hydrolyzed collagen that can break down into smaller fragments is able to penetrate deeper into the skin, but these fragments are too small to be effective and the improvement in the skin is most likely due to the addition of other ingredients to the topical cream used or the addition of proline (an amino acid in collagen).
In addition, collagen breaks down and transforms into ordinary gelatin (the kind of gel found in jelly) at temperatures above body temperature. For example, when hot coffee is added at high temperatures, the molecular structure of collagen is melted, reducing its desired health benefits or even making it ineffective.
3. What should I look for when buying collagen?
The FDA does not evaluate collagen supplements or any dietary supplements for that matter, so it is still necessary for consumers to do their own research before purchasing. First, we need to eat more leafy greens, citrus, eggs, berries, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkin seeds, avocados and garlic, which provide the environment needed for the body to maintain collagen stability.
So what about bone broth? Despite a lot of hype, the collagen in bone broth is somehow transformed into collagen in the body, and that's just wishful thinking on our part. In reality, the ingredients that make bone broth better are not that special and the collagen may have melted during the cooking process of bone broth. In addition, it is less likely that large amounts of collagen from any source (such as supplements, bone broth or meat, etc.) will travel from the digestive tract all the way to the joints or skin, and if this occurs, then the levels are probably a very small fraction of what we consume, with the most likely effect on the body's intestinal immunity, thus reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
People who like to supplement should mix frozen liquid collagen or collagen powder into a cold drink, the collagen peptides have been melted and therefore its more similar to other protein powders. Of course we need to remember that not all commercial collagen is the same, always find out where the collagen you are buying comes from and if you are allergic to fish, eggs or shellfish, make sure the collagen must be from another source.
Currently, due to the lack of FDA regulation, buying collagen that has been tested by a reliable agency such as USP or UL is also a good way to go. Choose a brand of collagen that we are interested in. If you are looking for the type of collagen that promotes joint health, then Type II collagen may be your best choice; if you want to improve your skin or hair, then Type I collagen may be the best choice. We should make collagen intake a part of our daily lives, and if we stop, the benefits may disappear.