Collagen is the glue that holds your body together. It’s the most abundant protein in your body and binds tissues together. Taking a collagen peptide supplement is a great way to support your body’s natural collagen regeneration and keep your body feeling young!
As we get older, our body breaks down faster than we can replace it. Since it makes up about 75% of the dry weight of your skin, keeping collagen in your system is essential to maintain and repair skin, tendons, bones, and joints. By increasing the amount of collagen you take in, you can truly boost your health and fitness. Below, is everything you need to know about taking a collagen peptide supplement and how to choose one!
What Are Collagen Peptides?
Before we get to what a collagen supplement can do for you, let’s start with the basics: what are collagen peptides?
First off, collagen is a protein that your body produces naturally. Collagen makes up around 30% of the proteins in our bodies and ensures the cohesion, elasticity, and regeneration of all our connective tissues. This includes the skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones.
Every day, your body is naturally producing collagen. As you age, the production of collagen slows down. The enzyme collagenase is the one doing the breaking down of collagen. But – from the age of around 25 – our body ends up breaking down more collagen than it makes. This is why you will start noticing fine lines and wrinkles on your face from around that age. Adding collagen peptides to your diet keeps your body stocked up as you age.
When you ingest collagen peptides, they are absorbed by your small intestine and then circulated into your bloodstream for your body to use. Because collagen peptides are highly bioavailable, your body can easily start making use of them to repair and regenerate. Research has even shown that after ingesting collagen peptides, the collagen increases in your blood!
Marine Vs. Animal Collagen Sources
Collagen supplements are produced from animal sources, and the collage is broken down into small particles that are easily absorbed by the body. Collagen supplements have been gaining popularity over the past few years as a way to prevent the negative effects of natural collagen loss.
Picking a collagen source can feel a little bit like ordering dinner at a wedding: Do you want chicken or fish? In the end, the animal versus marine debate doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Essentially, once the collagen is processed into a digestible supplement, it’s pretty much the same product.
In other words, sipping on some bone broth and eating cod for dinner are both going to deliver on the benefits of collagen. Here’s why: collagen is a triple-helix protein, which in non-science speak means it consists of three strands wound together to create one strong molecule. It’s a big, complex protein. While the ratio and concentration of amino acids may vary from source to source, structurally, collagen is the same whether it’s coming from a cow, chicken, or fish.
Collagen Peptides & Heart Health
Collagen provides structure to arteries, which carry blood from your heart to the body. Without ample collagen in your body, arteries may become fragile and start to break down, leading to atherosclerosis, which can lead to stroke and heart attack. One study found different collagen supplements could help prevent and treat atherosclerosis in healthy individuals.
Skin Cell Regeneration
As we age, our body naturally produces less collagen. However, according to a 2013 study, taking an oral collagen supplement can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by encouraging your body to produce more of its own natural collagen.
This wound healing effect coincides with the findings of a 2019 study where collagen supplementation helped improve skin elasticity, hydration, and healing.
Joints and Bone Support
The cartilage between your joints acts as a cushion, but factors like age and arthritis can compromise that cushioning effect. When cartilage fails to cushion your joints properly, it leads to aching, painful joints. According to a 2016 review, collagen supplementation can have a protective effect on cartilage and provide relief for joint pain.
Collagen supplementation has shown promising results in reversing the effects of weakening bones in women. A 2018 study found that women who took 5 grams of collagen peptides daily showed both increased bone production and decreased bone degradation after 12 months!
Collagen Peptides Boost Lean Muscle Mass
Muscle tissue is partly composed of collagen and is essential to your muscles functioning properly. Some studies suggest that taking a collagen supplement can help build lean muscle and reduce fat.
One randomized controlled trial found supplementing with collagen (as opposed to a placebo), combined with resistance training, could improve body composition and increase muscle strength in older men.
What’s The Difference Between Collagen Peptides and Whey Protein
Whey protein is super common in the protein powder industry. It’s a component of milk that has been separated from casein when milk curdles, which means it’s made from dairy and can be inflammatory. Plus, while whey protein is only helpful for muscle regeneration, unlike collagen protein, whose list of health benefits are virtually endless.
Tips For Choosing A Collagen Supplement
Since collagen is still being studied for its effects on health, the industry isn’t well regulated at this point. This can make choosing a collagen supplement a bit tricky, but here are some pointers that should help:
- Collagen is an animal product, so it’s a good idea to look for companies that source their collagen from cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free animals.
- Third-party certifications like NSF or USP can indicate that a product has met certain quality and sanitation standards.
- Avoid products that blend collagen with other ingredients like probiotics, fiber, etc. It’s hard to anticipate how these ingredients may interact, so simpler is usually better.
- Look for collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides. These labels indicate that the collagen has been broken down into smaller, easily absorbed particles.
How Do You Take A Collagen Peptide Supplement?
The first way to get more collagen in your diet is to eat naturally collagen-rich foods, like high-protein foods, including beef, chicken, fish, and egg yolks, and homemade bone broth.
You can also take collagen supplements, like powdered collagen peptides. Most powders are completely odorless and tasteless and can dissolve into pretty much anything. Most collagen powders are completely flavorless, so you can easily add them to coffee, smoothies, or anything else you might sip throughout the day. The serving size is generally two tablespoons and adds between 18 and 20 grams of protein to your drink or soup of choice.