There’s a rising market for ‘collagen’ supplements, claiming to improve skin quality or reduce the appearance of wrinkles deep within the skin. As collagen is the scaffolding for our skin, of course, we all want to believe it. We’re all on the hunt for any age defying miracle that will slow visible signs of ageing and boost collagen in our skin, but we need to have a healthy level of scepticism and look at the science and the actual ingredients.
What is collagen?
Collagen and the digestive system
Collagen supplements or good nutrition?
Consuming quality dietary protein is vital to providing our bodies with essential amino acids for making all the different proteins in our body. There are over 10,000 different proteins our bodies made from the building block amino acids that come from protein in our food. So often, many of us are simply lacking in good protein sources. Examples of vital proteins created in our body include our hormones, haemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood, muscle proteins, immunoglobulins to protect us from foreign invaders, enzymes that aid all the chemical reactions in our body, keratin in hair and nails, and collagen in our skin and connective tissue (cartilage, tendons and ligaments) . So ,it’s important to look at your natural nutrition and ensure that you have adequate intake of high quality protein before looking at collagen derived peptides.
Cut through the marketing - NEVER confuse collagen peptides with collagen protein supplements!
I believe that we really need to focus on the ingredients in the product, not on the marketing hype.
The three active amino acids that primarily comprise around 58% of the collagen molecule are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Typically around 33% of collagen is glycine, 10% proline, 13.5% hydroxyproline. If we deliver these important amino acids a singular amino acids, double amino acid peptides or three amino acid peptides containing a concentrated source of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline then clinical benefits have been observed.
So, it’s imperative that the supplier of the ‘Collagen’ product states whether the product they are selling is collagen protein or collagen peptides. Always look for ‘collagen derived peptides’ of no more than 3 amino acids. This enables optimal absorption and access of to the cells of the body through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream. The collagen protein itself is too large and cannot be absorbed into the body.
Current evidence suggests that collagen derived peptides may improve joint health, muscles and the quality of our skin. It’s also important to note that the amino acids are like nutrient firemen. Collagen derived amino acids (glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) will go to where it is needed by the body at the time it is needed, whether that’s the skin or other body tissues like joints.
My advice as a scientist:
- Be cynical – Read the scientific publications about the size of molecules that enters the body. Choose ONLY collagen derived peptides that are no bigger than 3 amino acids. Do NOT purchase collagen protein powder as your body will not use it effectively compared to the peptides.
- Look at your nutrition before buying collagen derived peptides. A well-balanced diet of good, high quality protein may already provide sufficient amino acid levels of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline for your skin and joints.
[Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Consult a dermatologist or skincare professional for specific concerns.]