What is Collagen Supplements: All You Need to Know

Collagen is essentially a type of protein that can be naturally found in certain foods like skin and ligaments. Besides collagen rich food, individuals can also get their source of collagen from collagen supplements. Many individuals who take collagen supplements often do so to boost the health of their hair, skin, and joints. Today, individuals have the option to select from among different selections of collagen supplements available in the form of powder. Individuals can take the supplement daily or add the collagen powder to their morning tea, coffee, or smoothie.

Indeed, collagen is quite popular, and its use is on the rise among individuals. Despite the rise in popularity, many individuals still do not know what collagen is and how it works effectively. 

Define collagen and its Importance

Did you know that collagen is a type of protein that is the most abundant structural protein found in animals? Notably, a structural protein makes the structure of the cells and tissues. So far, 28 types of collagen are known to us. Among those types, type I collagen accounts for around 90% of collagen found in the human body. It is mostly composed of amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. The amino acids make up three strands, which make up the triple-helix structure traits of collagen.

It is found in human tissue, tendons, skin, bones, and cartilage. Collagen extends structural support to tissues. It plays a key role in cellular processes, including the following:

  • Tissue repair
  • Building immune response
  • Smooth cellular communication
  • Facilitates cellular migration, which is a necessary process for tissue maintenance

Connective tissue cells fibroblasts produce and help maintain collagen. However, as individuals grow older, the body’s collagen becomes fragmented, the function of fibroblasts gets impaired, and the production of collagen slows down. These changes, along with the loss of another key structural protein called elastin, lead to signs of ageing, such as sagging skin and wrinkles.

What are Collagen Supplements?

Collagen supplements are known to feature amino acids and nutrients related to skin and hair, such as vitamin C, zinc, and biotin, as well as building blocks of essential protein. Notably, hydrolyzed collagen is one of the most common forms of collagen that is used in creating supplements through the process of hydrolysis. The process is known to break down the required protein into smaller pieces, which makes it easier for the skin tone to absorb its benefits.

What Causes Us to Lose Collagen?

The human body produces collagen naturally, and it can be found in bone, tendon, connective tissue, skin, and cartilage. Collagen can also be found in some foods and can be introduced into the body through supplements. However, the level of collagen tends to decrease as production slows down with rising age. In addition, the collagen becomes more fragmented and loosely distributed.

Notably, these developmental changes trigger signs of ageing, which include wrinkles and dry and sagging skin. Similarly, the integrity of natural collagen, which is found in the skeletal system, tends to decrease with rising age, prompting a reduction in human bone strength.

Notably, the loss of collagen and damage to its levels due to ageing is inevitable. However, harmful lifestyle factors and dietary choices can help accelerate the process.

For instance, smoking cigarettes can potentially degrade collagen, which again makes the skin appear aged, leads to wrinkles, and also loss of elasticity. Besides this, excessive drinking is known to accelerate skin ageing by significantly lowering collagen production and damaging human skin’s overall repair mechanism.

Consuming a diet rich in ultra-processed food and high in sugar can trigger premature ageing by adding to a process known as glycation. The process lowers collagen turnover and hampers its overall ability to interact with cells and proteins.

In addition, exposure to excessive sun lowers collagen production. In this case, wearing sunscreen and reducing exposure to excessive sun exposure can prevent early signs of premature ageing.

What are the Key Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements? 

Several studies have suggested that taking collagen supplements is beneficial in more than one way.

For instance, the major benefits of using collagen are as follows –

  1. Potential skin benefits

The most popular use of collagen supplements these days is for enhancing the appearance of skin. Some studies found that supplements can enhance specific aspects of the human skin’s health and appearance. Studies have found that taking collagen supplements can help enhance the skin’s hydration level,  boost its elasticity, and lower the appearance of premature wrinkles. However, more studies are required to understand how effective collagen supplements would be on specific conditions. 

  1. Potential benefits for bones

Besides enhancing the appearance of the skin, collagen supplements can enhance the strength of bones. For instance, taking collagen supplements in the long term may help boost bone mineral density in individuals, especially in those in their post-menopausal stage. Such individuals are known to be at higher risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia. The same has been found effective in older women with significantly low bone density.

Collagen supplements could also prove useful in helping lower the symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially stiffness. Notably, supplements can provide other key health benefits, such as enhancing the body’s composition. However, it should be noted that collagen supplements may not necessarily have similar impacts on the younger population or men who do not necessarily have notable low bone mineral density.

Individuals who wish to increase their collagen level should consider taking supplements. However, they should first consult with professionals to understand the best dosage and suitable collagen form to ensure the best results. The process will also ensure that the user is aware of the side effects of the supplement and how they can make the most of collagen.

In addition, individuals should eat collagen rich foods to increase their collagen levels significantly. Hence, collagen supplements could be beneficial for the health of skin and bone. This will not just help users look and feel better but also enhance their sense of well-being.

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