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What is Collagen and what does it do?

The word collagen originates from a greek word “kólla” which means glue. It is quite ironic because collagen keeps connective tissues together and maintains their strength.

In this article you will find out what collagen is, where does it come from and what people use it for.

Read until the end as we have a cool infographic for you!

What is Collagen?

It is a type of protein that includes a variety of amino acids like Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine. It makes up approximately 30% of protein within the body supporting bones, skin, muscle, and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments.

Where does collagen come from?

Collagen is one of the most abundant protein that supports all the tissues mentioned above. Our bodies produce it naturally from consumed proteins, it is secreted by a number of cells but mainly the connective tissues. The proteins to assists in collagen production include beef, chicken, fish, beans and certain dairy products. As we age, our bodies will produce less and less of collagen which explains why older people experience loose skin, wrinkles and baldness.

You can also obtain it from supplements that you can buy from trusted stores like Holland & Barrett and IHerb. However, ensure that the collagen is hydrolysed as this means it will be broken down into its component peptides for better digestion and absorption.

The function of collagen

As a holistic overview, the uses of this supplement lye in the strengthening and maintaining healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, and ligaments.  

Benefits of Collagen

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May help increase muscle mass

There was a 2019 study that looked into the effects of collagen peptides containing non-essential amino-acids on strength and muscle growth. The study involved 25 young male participants who underwent 12 weeks of resistance training with 15g of collagen supplementation within 60 minutes post-exercise every day. The study reported a significant increase in body weight in terms of muscle mass and strength (Oertzen-Hagemann et al, 2019).

Can minimise the symptoms of Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

A 2006 study shows that this supplement collaborates with cells found in connective tissues to increase the production of proteins and support the affected joints. The study reported a significant improvement to the symptoms of joint disorders like osteoarthritis (Bello and Oesser, 2006).

May reduce skin signs of aging

There was a study that was done in 2014 which looked into the effects of collagen supplementation on skin elasticity and moisture. The study reported that it can significantly increase skin elasticity, firmness and moisture. As a result, it can reduce the signs of aging on face by reducing visibility of wrinkles (Proksch et al, 2014).

Can speed up nail growth and strengthen them

A 2017 study looked into the effects of collagen on brittle nails. There were 25 participants who were taking 2.5g of collagen peptides (VERISOL) over a period of 4 weeks. At the end of the 4 week collagen treatment, participants experienced 12% increase to nail growth and a 42% reduction in broken nail incidents. Overall, 80% of participants agreed that the supplement can improve nail strength and growth as well as their appearance (Hexsel et al, 2017).

Causes of collagen loss

High sugar consumption – sugar can affect collagen’s ability to produce in the body.

Excessive sun exposure – Sunlight reduces collagen production or it can damage collagen so when it repairs, it might not be as effective causing wrinkles.

Smoking – also reduces collagen production which can lead to wrinkles and slow down wound healing.

Age – as we grow older, our collagen production reduces. There is no cure to this, it’s a natural process.

Nutrients and food that may increase the production of collagen

Copper – cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, Oysters, Sesame seeds, and Liver (lamb)

Proline – beef, chicken, pork, monkfish, cod, shark cartilage, cabbage, tofu, and asparagus

Vitamin C – curly kale, orange juice, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, chili peppers, strawberries, and broccoli

Anthocyanidins – blackberries, grapes, blueberries, egg-plant, avocado, oranges, figs, sweet potato

Glycine – pork skin, chicken skin, milk, cheese, yogurt, pumpkin beans, spinach, cauliflower, and kiwi

Dosage

Like we mentioned before, collagen is created naturally within the body from the proteins that we consume so there isn’t a recommended dosage per se. You can obtain it from supplements too and the dosage varies. In studies, the dosage that was used on participants was 10g per day. However, there is no optimum dosage since it is created naturally within the body.

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Conclusion

Collagen is important to maintain healthy bones, connective tissues, hair, skin and nails. Lack of collagen can lead to weak bones, hair, skin, nails and even joint problems. It is best to limit sunlight, high sugar consumption and smoking to preserve collagen for when you are older.

NOW! Let us know below what you think about this article, and what will you use collagen for?

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References

Bello, A. and Oesser, S. (2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17076983 [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

Hexsel, D., Zague, V., Schunck, M., Siega, C., Carmozzato, F. and Oesser, S. (2017). Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28786550 [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

Oertzen-Hagemann, V., Kirmse, M. and Platen, P. (2019). Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men. [online] 11(5). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566884/ [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schnuck, M., Zague, V. and Oesser, S. (2014). Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208 [Accessed 13 Jan. 2020].

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