By Scott A. Aruti
If you work out on a regular basis, you might be part of the 46% of Americans who use some kind of protein supplement. Is there a way to know if you’re using the right one? As the supplement industry steadily evolves, so does the confusion surrounding what to look for in a protein powder. We’re here to help clear things up!
When it comes to certain protein powders, we can recommend collagen protein powder because of its range of possible benefits, which include improvements in:
- Bone and joint health
- Skin and hair health
- Heart health
- Muscle mass
For a little more insight on how collagen works in the body, we reached out to a professional in the health and nutrition field, Sofia Norton, RD. Norton contributes to a site called Kiss My Keto, “a brand dedicated to the ketogenic lifestyle.” With more than six years of experience with wellness and nutrition, Norton travels the world to inform impoverished communities about nutrition. Here’s some of what she had to say about collagen protein.
Before we go any further, it is important to note that there is no specific evidence that collagen protein powder can completely cure, treat or prevent any disease or medical condition.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the primary structural protein in various connective tissues in the body and it is the most abundant protein in mammals, constituting between 25-35% of the body’s protein count (x). When we say “connective tissue,” what exactly are we talking about? As the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons. It is also found in blood vessels, corneas and teeth. You can think of it as the substance that practically holds the body together (x).
Where Does Collagen Come From?
Most collagen supplements come from the bones, skin and connective tissue of animals, including cattle, fish, horses, pigs and rabbits. There are two different approaches to increase collagen in the body: (1) consume sources of collagen protein from animal products and (2) giving the body what it needs to create its own collagen, a plant-based dietary approach.
According to scientific research, collagen peptides (i.e. pieces of protein) may have beneficial effects on skin photoaging, though most tests primarily use mice as subjects (x). Norton states, “the body makes collagen naturally on its own. But with time and repeated wear and tear of bones and joints, collagen production slows down.” She says that collagen peptides are an external source that may make up for what the body lacks.
What is Collagen Made of?
Collagen is made from amino acids—nutrients that build up proteins—specifically glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine. However, collagen peptide supplements are typically derived from connective tissue from bovine or fish (x).
Foods with Collagen
There are also natural dietary sources that produce collagen protein, including:
- Fish (with skin) & shellfish
- Red bell peppers
- Bone broth
- Citrus fruits
- Dark leafy greens
Types of Collagen Protein
If you have browsed social media platforms, you may have noticed that collagen protein is hot right now. Many people are using it and putting it in pretty much everything. But there are several different types of collagen to choose from.
Exactly how many types of collagen are there? There are 16 total, but 80-90% of the body is made up of types I, II and III. We’re going to take a brief look so you can understand the differences between them (x).
- Type I – Used for strong hair, skin, nails and bones.
- Type II – Less prevalent within our bodies but offers great benefits to aging by promoting joint and cartilage health.
- Type III – increases elasticity of the skin, minimizing wrinkles and allowing the epidermal level of the skin to really strut its stuff.
What is Collagen Used For?
Collagen has become a chic trend in several circles to encompass everything from cosmetic injections to everyday products found in supermarkets and drugstores. Food, skin cream, powders and pills all vie for consumers’ attention, promising a path to a healthy, vibrant body… but what’s the secret behind all this? What do you need to know?
- Wrinkles and other signs of aging
- Stiff, less flexible tendons and ligaments
- Shrinking and weakening muscles
- Joint pain from worn cartilage
- Thinner digestive tract lining, which can cause gastrointestinal problems (x)
However, even though they are a very popular dietary supplement, collagen protein is not intended to completely treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition on its own. Instead, the supplement aims to help support the body’s processes to make collagen on its own. There is no medical or scientific research proving that collagen supplements are an adequate replacement for medical treatment. Consult a doctor before you try it.
Bone and Joint Health
Remember that collagen is a structural protein that essentially helps hold the body together. So as collagen production decreases with age, it can lead to weaker bones and joints, increasing the risk for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Collagen maintains cartilage and research suggests that collagen supplements may help restore or preventing the deterioration of cartilage in the joints (x).
Norton, too, claims that collagen supplements may “slow down age-related bone and joint problems.” She mentions several studies for evidence. For example, one study used elderly female subjects with osteoarthritis and concluded that collagen peptides may have efficiently improved the health of their joints (x). In another study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers noticed that collagen peptides may have increased bone mineral density, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis (x).
Skin and Hair Health
Type I collagen is useful in this area and many researchers believe in the potential benefits of collagen for skin. Norton points out that “age-related decline in collagen will be most apparent on the skin and in the hair,” causing fine lines, wrinkles, thinning hair and sagging skin. Collagen supplements may help reduce the effects of aging by adding moisture to the skin, reducing wrinkles and improving elasticity and strengthening the hair (x).
Nutrients published another study on collagen supplements in regards to skin and hair health. The study concluded that the supplements seemed to significantly improve “skin hydration, elasticity, [texture] and density in women aged 35 years and older” compared to a placebo (x). According to Norton, “supplementing your diet with collagen can not only slow down visible signs of aging but also reverse them to a certain degree.”
Remember that collagen doesn’t just hold the bones, joints and skin together. It’s also responsible for providing structure to the blood vessels that transport blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The major component of the blood vessel wall is the extracellular matrix, which is mostly made up of collagen and elastin (x).
According to Norton, “weak arterial walls are more likely to harden and develop plaque” and develop into a condition called atherosclerosis, “characterized by the hardening of the arterial walls.” This condition increases the risk for heart attacks and stroke. Some research suggests that collagen can help improve artery structure and support a healthy cardiovascular system (x).
Since collagen is a type of protein, the supplement may work similarly to other protein supplements like whey protein, casein protein or soy protein. You’ll remember that collagen is structural, supporting the muscles. There is evidence that suggests that it plays a natural role in protein synthesis, so it may help increase muscle mass and strength (x).
Types of Collagen Protein Powders
Because there are so many different types of collagen protein itself, it’s no surprise that there is such a wide variety of collagen protein supplements. Here’s a quick breakdown on the various types of collagen protein powders, starting with a definition of the process of hydrolysis.
When collagen is “hydrolyzed,” it is broken down into smaller, easier-to-process particles and those particles are used in products designed to address anything from external skin to internal joint pain. In the process of hydrolysis, protein—more specifically, amino acids—has been broken down into smaller units, making it easier for humans to consume and digest it (x).
Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen
Fish hydrolyzed collagen has smaller peptides than other sources and is consequently 1.5 times easier for the body to digest, absorb and distribute. This is considered a Type I collagen, the most abundant type in the human body that accounts for 80% of the collagen in skin. These collagen fibers form a dense network throughout the deeper layer (dermis) and provide structural support for the surface of skin (epidermis) (x). Hydrolyzed fish collagen is useful for wound healing, repairing muscle tissue and metabolism.
Hydrolyzed Chicken Collagen
This is a Type II collagen that helps support a healthy mucosal layer in the gut. Studies suggest people with digestive imbalances have lower serum concentrations of collagen (x). Because the amino acids in collagen construct the tissue that lines the colon and entire GI tract, collagen supplements may support healthy digestive function. Hydrolyzed chicken collagen may also be useful for joint support, pain and swelling.
Hydrolyzed Bovine Collagen
This has become an increasingly popular food additive. It’s a natural protein in the connective tissue, bones, cartilage and hides of cows. Bovine collagen supplements typically contain Type I and Type II collagen and boast some 18 amino acids. Additionally, research suggests it may strengthen bones, teeth and tendons (x).
Hydrolyzed Porcine Collagen
This type of collagen supplement contains Type I and Type III collagen and porcine collagen boasts a rich legacy. It has been used throughout human history, from helping our distant ancestors survive in harsh environments to the present day when pork accounts for almost 40% of global meat consumption (x).
Why Take Collagen Protein
Your body produces collagen on its own and production begins to slow down as a natural part of the aging process. But did you know that there are other unnatural factors that can damage collagen? Research states that certain behaviors may interfere with collagen production including: sun exposure and UV radiation, lack of dietary vitamin C, lack of sleep, excess sugar consumption and smoking (x).
Many people who take collagen supplements are looking to improve the appearance and overall health of their skin and reduce the effects of aging—lack of hydration, wrinkles, lower elasticity. But its uses don’t stop there. Other people may take collagen to support the joints and reduce pain and weakness, another result of aging.
There are several studies that suggest collagen supplements may successfully address these factors and possibly even reverse them. However, before you start taking collagen supplements, we recommend talking to your doctor for approval.
Are Collagen Supplements Safe?
Like just about everything else in the medical and supplements world, there are possible some side effects of collagen protein supplements. Some people may experience:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin rashes
- Liver abnormalities (rare)
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Increased oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production (x)
How to Take Collagen Protein Powder
- Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen – Take 2,500 mg two to four times a day
- Hydrolyzed Chicken Collagen – Take 2,500 mg two to four times a day on an empty stomach
- Hydrolyzed Bovine Collagen – Take 2,500 mg two to four times a day on an empty stomach
- Hydrolyzed Porcine Collagen – Take 2,500 mg two to four times a day
Consult with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen.
Where to Buy Collagen Protein Powder
You can purchase collagen powder at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements. BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other brands that distribute food and other supplement products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying collagen protein as a dietary supplement to potentially support bone and joint health, improve the health of your skin and hair, boost muscle mass and strengthen the heart? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
As the supplement industry continuously evolves, so does the confusion surrounding what to look for in a protein powder. One good option is collagen protein. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up the skin, hair, bones, muscles and blood vessels. The body produces it on its own, but as a natural part of the aging process, collagen production begins to slow down, increasing the risk for weaker bones and joints and a weaker heart as well as physical signs of aging. There are also behaviors that can reduce collagen production such as sun exposure, smoking, lack of sleep and lack of dietary vitamin C.
The supplements are not intended to completely treat or prevent any diseases, symptoms or other health conditions. But according to research, collagen supplements may be an effective way to help supply collagen to help support the body’s natural processes. Studies show that collagen supplements may help with bone and joint health, skin and hair health, heart health and muscle mass. Consult a doctor before you try collagen protein supplements.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.