- Collagen peptide supplementation helps your body maintain healthy levels of collagen
- Collagen type I promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails
- Collagen type III reinforces connective and muscle tissue
- Collagen is primarily extracted from bovine tissues for cosmetic and supplement purposes
What Does Collagen Do for the Body?
Collagen is an essential protein that plays a pivotal role in the development, structure, strength, and stability of cells, tissues, and organs throughout your body. Supplementing the diet with collagen peptides—comprising short chains of amino acids—reinforces the structural stability of various tissues .
Taking a collagen supplement regularly also boosts the natural production of collagen by energizing pathways that promote collagen synthesis [1-3]. More specifically, when connective tissue cells are exposed to collagen peptides following oral consumption, they begin to produce more collagen . This process helps sustain optimal collagen levels.
What Are the Different Types of Collagens?
The collagen that is used for supplement purposes is typically extracted from bovine (cow), porcine (pig), poultry (chicken), ovine (sheep), or marine (fish) sources . However, bovine collagen that is extracted from the bones of cows is the most abundant source and it is biologically compatible with human tissue .
Porcine tissue is another common source of collagen that is structurally similar to human collagen. Marine collagen, which mainly consists of collagen type I, also exhibits useful properties. Nonetheless, there is research demonstrating the benefits and safety of porcine collagen is limited, and marine collagen is not as efficient as bovine collagen at boosting the production of collagen types I, II, and III in the body .
Collagen types I and III are particularly beneficial in promoting the health of the skin, hair, nails, joints, and muscles [1-3]. Therefore, these two collagen types are typically found in collagen-based products and supplements. Collagen type I is primarily sourced from bovine tissues such as bones, tendons, and connective or lung tissue, while collagen type III is extracted from bovine skin.
After further processing, large collagen particles are broken down into collagen peptides—also known as hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate. Collagen peptides consist of oligopeptides, which is a mixture of short amino acid chains that range in size from two to twenty amino acids . Collagen peptides of this size are more bioactive than pure collagen or large collagen particles—making oligopeptides favorable for supplementation. Peptides that are broken down even further into dipeptides (2-amino acid chains) or tripeptides (3-amino acid chains) are easier for the intestines to absorb than oligopeptides [5, 6]. This means your body can easily process collagen peptides that contain small chains of amino acids.
When taken consistently and at research-supported servings of 10 grams or more, collagen peptide supplementation can maximize the promotion of key structures that lead to supple skin, fuller hair, thicker nails, stronger joints, and robust muscles [7, 8].
Collagen-based products for skin health rapidly increased in popularity in recent years due to the link between low levels of collagen and saggy, wrinkly, dry, and aging skin. Research shows that collagen levels gradually decrease with age—dropping by about 1% each year for both men and women, starting around the early 30s and worsening as women enter menopause .
Factors such as excessive sunlight exposure, poor nutrition, and high levels of the stress hormone called cortisol can also contribute to the loss of collagen. In addition, abnormal inflammatory responses, harmful environmental agents, free radical toxins, smoking cigarettes, and sleep disturbances disrupt collagen production, particularly in older individuals [1, 2].
Fortunately, adding a collagen peptide supplement to the daily diet counteracts the natural loss of collagen that occurs with age. Eating a collagen-rich protein bar once or twice a day, for example, also targets other factors that are linked to poor collagen levels such as cigarette smoke, sunlight exposure, oxidative stress caused by free radical toxins [1, 2].
According to research, consuming collagen peptides in the right amount can boost collagen production in the outer and inner layers of the skin and also enhances skin moisture and elasticity . Similar benefits have been observed for the hair and nails.
Hair and Nail Health
If you’re wondering how collagen peptides support hair health, it is important to remember that your scalp and the base of your hair follicles contain collagen. Furthermore, when hair begins to grow, the level of collagen surrounding the new hair follicles increases. This means collagen nourishes the skin on your head and the skin on the rest of your body. Healthy collagen levels also bolster the production of keratin—a key protein that is found in the hair and nails.
People who suffer from thinning hair typically experience dramatic benefits when they start taking collagen peptides. One major benefit of daily collagen peptide supplementation that has been shown through research is a boost in hair follicle number and strength . Better hair volume, thickness, coverage, shine, hydration, and smoothness is also often observed when a collagen supplement is taken consistently .
In addition to nourishing the scalp and hair follicles, collagen peptides help strengthen nails by influencing keratin levels . Reduced keratin production leads to brittle nails that crack, chip, or break easily. Collagen supplements combat this problem by encouraging nail growth and promoting stronger nails that have a healthier appearance . These benefits make collagen peptides appealing for people of any age.
Collagen is a popular choice for hair, skin, and nail reinforcement, but this key structural protein also has a major impact on muscle and joint health.
Collagen is abundant in muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Age, injuries, free radical toxins, and even inflammatory foods can deplete collagen and lead to weak connective tissue. Replenishing the body’s supply of collagen by taking collagen peptides regularly can heighten the structures that lead to muscle strength, decreased activity-related muscle soreness, and enhances the body’s ability to produce more of collagen types I and III—the main types that are found in ligaments, tendons, and muscles [1, 13].
Similar to the muscle problems people may face due to depleted collagen levels, the loss of strong collagen molecules can have a negative impact on your joints . Collagen fibers provide stability for connective tissue located between joints, and these fibers create a platform for bone cells that form the joints. If these fibers begin to weaken or decrease in number due to age-related changes in collagen production, it is harder for the body to rejuvenate joint tissue. This can lead to brittle bones that are prone to fractures .
Collagen type I is primarily found in the bones. Bovine collagen is rich in collagen types I and III, which makes it especially efficient at boosting the levels of different collagens in the human body . Therefore, taking collagen peptides consistently may lead to noticeable benefits for joint and bone structures, as well as optimal mobility and range of motion.
Overall, the key to experiencing noticeable benefits from collagen supplementation is best found when consuming collagen peptides—particularly bovine collagen—in adequately daily servings on a consistent basis. This is especially important as you get older, because the body’s natural production of collagen decreases with age.
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