Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, and is found in the skin, hair, nails, joints, tendons, and more. It plays a number of vital roles in the body, including supporting the organization and shape of tissues and interacting with other cells via cell receptors. While collagen is necessary for overall health, production slows dramatically during the aging process. Learn more about how collagen can support your health and how a collagen supplement may contribute to your body’s optimal health.
Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein that makes up 30% of the total protein in the body and 70% of the protein in skin. It was discovered in the 1930s, and today over 28 kinds of collagen have been identified. Collagen’s molecular structure contains a signature triple helix, called the “Madras” model. This helix can make up most of the collagen’s structure (96% in Type I collagen), to less than 10% (as in the case of collagen Type XII). The most common types of collagen are Type I, Type II, and Type III. Like other proteins, collagen is composed of amino acids, specifically glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. Below is a brief overview of some of the collagen, a few different types, and some of the benefits commonly attributed to its use. For a more detailed look at this type of supplement, check out this article on collagen—which has a great infographic to help better explain some of the finer details.
Type I collagen is found at the highest concentration in the body and is an important element of the skin, tendons, ligaments, organs, and bones. Also, present in scar tissue and the gastrointestinal system, Type I collagen supports skin elasticity and flexibility and may offer support for wound healing. Type I collagen is also the variety found in scar tissue and it may also support healthy aging.
Type II collagen is responsible for cartilage production and makes up the fluid in joints. It is produced by chondrocytes, a liquid-like filling in the cartilage that is sometimes called the non-cellular matrix of cartilage. It works to support healthy joints.
Type III collagen is often found with Type I, and it may be the most well-known collagen type. Found in skin and organ cells, Type III collagen works to support healthy looking skin, hair, and nails, while also promoting muscle, bone, and cardiovascular health. Both collagen Types I and III are produced from fibroblasts, which are the cells in connective tissues, and from osteoblasts, the cells that make bones .
During the aging process, collagen fibers break down and stop regenerating at a rate that is faster than the body can produce new cells. By age 40, the body’s ability to produce collagen has decreased by around 25%, and by age 60, it has decreased by over 50%. These internal factors can be compounded by external forces like environmental toxins, smoking, alcohol, and large doses of sun exposure, causing higher toxicity in the skin. While the effect of depleting collagen is most obvious as it relates to the appearance of skin, the negative results can be even more harmful internally. As Type II collagen breaks down, it decreases the fluid between joints, which can cause a number of health issues.
It was discovered that the combination of resistance training and a collagen supplement resulted in a “pronounced improvement of body composition”
Through extensive research, many studies have suggested that consuming a collagen supplement may have a positive effect – not just for a healthy skin appearance, but as it relates to muscle health and overall healthy aging. In a 2014 study, researchers found that women who took a collagen supplement once daily for eight weeks showed a “statistically significant improvement” in the elasticity of their skin as opposed to women who took a placebo . And in another study, it was discovered that the combination of resistance training and a collagen supplement resulted in a “pronounced improvement of body composition” to support healthy aging and muscle health in elderly men . A collagen supplement may have a potentially beneficial effect for you. Try a collagen supplement for yourself and see if it makes a difference to your skin, joints, and overall health.
Collagen is a vital compound used by the human body to help build and restore connective tissues and tendons. There are several different types of collagen that are used throughout the body for specific purposes. By utilizing different types of collagen it may be possible to support the body’s natural healing and restorative process involved in reducing the effects of aging. Collagen supplements are excellent sources of such natural collagen compounds, though it’s important to only buy products from high-quality brands that adhere to cGMP practices. These types of higher-quality guidelines used during manufacturing can help ensure you aren’t being exposed to harmful compounds such as toxic heavy metals, bacterial contaminants, or unlisted ingredients. High-quality supplements are powerful allies in the endeavor to support natural healing processes and energy. You should always consult with a licensed health professional before making any decisions regarding your current diet or medications—including the addition of collagen supplements.
- Ricard-Blum, S. (2011). The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 3(1), a004978. http://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a004978
- Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M., Zague, V., & Oesser, S. (2013, April 14). Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. 27(1):47-55DOI: 10.1159/000351376
- Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M. W., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: A randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(08), 1237-1245. doi:10.1017/s0007114515002810