Are you looking to get skin like Jenifer Aniston, or potentially glow like the Kardashians? Many celebrities, influencers and even everyday people have all been talking about one thing in particular. That is collagen. This protein has been hailed as one of the best ways to support a youthful looking skin, but is there actual benefit to it? In this article, we’ll be digging deep to help you understand everything there is to know about collagen.
What Is Collagen?
This protein is one that we have the most of in the body. But what does it look like, what does it do and how is it made?
Time for a quick biology lesson, so buckle up.
Collagen serves as the backbone for many structures in the body, including our largest organ, the skin. Additionally, it supports the structure of the bones and the connective tissue our body has, like joints, and tendons. It is a structural protein, meaning that it works like a scaffold on which cells and other components can go.
This wonder-protein is made up of three long strands of amino-acids. These wind around each other in a helical formation, forming a protein rope of sorts. These ropes can then be arranged to make scaffolds and act as supporting structures for other cells, helping form the beforementioned skin and tendons. The process of assembling strands into one rope takes plenty of cellular machinery and requires important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, to happen.
The vitamins and minerals that are required to make it are as follows:
- Zinc – you can find the micronutrient in many foods like beans, nuts and shellfish
- Vitamin C – a super common vitamin, you can get it from fruit and veg like grapefruit, peppers, and leafy greens
- Copper – you’ll find this one in potatoes, beans and even in shellfish
If your goals involve a better-looking skin, then you should make sure you’re fuelling your natural processes with the right foods. To make collagen, we require a mix of the correct amino acids alongside the micronutrients outlined above. Together, they’ll support your natural process and help you feel confident and radiant.
Types of Collagen
Collagens can be divided into groups based on their roles in the body. While there are over twenty-nine types in our body, we typically concern ourselves with those found in the largest quantities. These are as follows:
- The protein found in your skin and almost every tissue – type I
- The one found primarily in the cartilage – type II
- The final one found predominantly in the skin – type III
If you’re interested in increasing your own collagen amounts, you can do so through supplements. There’s a large amount of them available on the market, with collagen from different sources and for different purposes. How do these differ and which ones can suit you?
Collagen supplements come in many types, and they’re typically all about where the collagen came from.
The most standard type would be bovine collagen. This type contains type one and type three collagens. These types of supplements are usually found in pill, liquid, or powder form, and make a versatile addition for those wanting to include them in their routine.
A type that’s been increasing in popularity is marine collagen. This one is manufactured using waste materials from fish, such as scales and bones. It contains type one and two collagens. It can also be versatile, with supplements being in powder and liquid form, depending on what you like.
Collagen is quite a large molecule, which makes it hard to pass into cells. So when considering a supplement, make sure that you’re getting the hydrolyzed version of the protein. This means that it’s been cut into smaller chunks, which are easier for your cells to take up and make use of.
What about those that don’t consume animal products, is there collagen on the market for them?
Vegan collagen. You may have seen vegan collagen on the market, but have you ever checked the ingredients list? Surprise – you won’t actually see the protein on there. That’s because most of the supplements use animal products in its making. There’s promise in being able to use yeast or bacteria to make this great protein, but the technology is a ways away still.
So, what do the vegan collagen powders contain? Typically, you’ll find other ingredients that can help your own body make this protein. These can include vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C or copper. They can also include plant ingredients, such as superfoods, which while probably doing no harm may or may not be effective. You can support your body by getting plenty of these nutrients from food sources as well, such as:
Supporting your collagen production naturally
Can you help yourself make collagen? The answer is yes! Our natural ability to manufacture collagen in the body’s cells declines as we get older. There are a few things you can do to help your body continue to make this protein:
- Use your SPF religiously – one of the things that affects this protein is UV damage, so protecting your skin helps you look after your collagen
- Limit pollutants – pollution can be another factor affecting it. This is especially important for those who smoke, as that can also affect its production.
- Go easy on the drink – alcohol is another thing that can play a role in your collagen-making
- Get plenty of beauty sleep – it’s called beauty sleep for a reason, so make sure you’re getting plenty of zz’s
- Get the heart pumping – exercise can support your production processes, so make it a habit to hit the gym or go out for a run regularly
- Eat well – your nutrition can provide the building blocks for the protein, so by eating foods rich in micronutrients that support its production, you can support collagen levels
- Incorporate foods rich in the protein – if you eat animal products, consider adding more foods that contain the protein in your diet, such as bone broth or chicken
- Try a supplement – supplements can help the body build collagen, so give them a go if you want to
Overall, supporting your body’s natural process of making this protein comes down to a few things. Healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle, including staying active and eating a balanced diet can help you look and feel your best. Both of these are important for a radiant and confident complexion – after all, if you feel good, you look good.
Choosing something that works for you
If you’re looking to get some extra collagen into your daily life, a supplement can be the right call. It can be hard to understand which type of collagen is for you or which formulation to go with – after all, there are so many options on the market. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re making decisions around which collagen powder benefits you, and we’ve assembled what to look out for here.
Choose those supplements that you can trust the quality of. These may be those that have been tested, those that use effective collagen forms like Peptan B. For marine collagen, a high-quality collagen is Naticol, which is natural in its form and has been studied. Additionally, look at the standards of manufacturing, ensuring that your product is passing all the quality checks it needs to. Many risks of collagen powder come from additional allergens or unknown ingredients added to it, so quality checking helps avoid that.
Make sure your collagen is bioactive. There’s no point in having something that’s not going to be used by your body because it can’t be absorbed. Our cells have trouble with taking in the fully sized protein, so we need to make it more accessible. This happens through dividing it into smaller bits, called peptides. Look for this form of the protein where you can. Stay on the lookout for products with Solugel peptides, as they’re easily absorbed by the body.
Choose a form that you find fits with your requirements and routine. Supplements can come in different forms, like pills, powders or liquids. Decide what works best for you. You can choose those that are easier to take for you – some people prefer a liquid form, which is easy to drink once daily. Others like making collagen coffee, or adding it to smoothies, so they might choose a powder form. Don’t be afraid to mix and match and try things until you find the form that works for you.
Additionally, consider if you want any other ingredients in what you’re taking. Some people might want a flavor, others might want a supplement without anything else in it. Look for additional ingredients that can help you address your original concerns.
For example, collagens that are designed for supporting skin health and beauty will often contain additional hydrating or antioxidant ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid in Beauty Collagen. Those that are made to support movement and the joints might have other joint-beneficial ingredients.
Top 10 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
Ready to get on board of the collagen train? Here are our top 10 collagen powder benefits to getting this nutrient incorporated into your routine.
01 Can assist skin elasticity
If you’re starting to worry about your natural collagen production, the first thing you might think of is its effect on your skin elasticity. The protein is key for supporting your body’s production and can help strengthen the scaffold that holds your skin. This can help improve and support the elasticity of the skin.
02 May support a more hydrated skin
For even better skin hydration, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water. Additionally, other hydration-boosters like hyaluronic acid and omega-3s can support your quest for a hydrated skin. This may be especially important for those who typically don’t get enough fatty acids as is. For vegetarians and vegans, make sure you’re getting more omega-3 rich foods, as the body isn’t very efficient at converting omega-3s from plants into a usable form.
03 Can help free movement
There may be nothing that’s quite as frustrating as the discomfort in your knees after a long round of sitting. Unsurprisingly, since your joints are made from collagen, getting plenty of the protein may be able to support your movement. They can be especially useful for stiffness.
If you play a sport that requires a lot of joint usage, like soccer, you can also benefit from collagen in your routine. Alongside it, consider adding strength and mobility training to support the muscles around your cartilage, which can help you better bear the load.
04 Supports bone health and strength
What are your bones made of? That’s right, collagen! No surprise there but getting plenty of this protein can support the strength of your bones. This is especially important for those who are thinking about ageing well. For best effect, pair your collagen with a source of vitamin D and calcium, so that your bones get plenty of minerals for even greater strength.
If you’re finding it hard to get these from foods, you can consider a supplement – many calcium supplements, like Maxler Calcium D3, contain additional vitamin D so that you can get the most out of the combination. Also, remember that strength training and load bearing exercises can support the strength of your skeleton, so make sure you’re leading an active lifestyle alongside your supplement and a balanced diet.
05 Is great for the muscles
Collagen can be a great way to support muscle mass. The protein not only provides amino acids for the body to use in the building of its muscle, but also makes up some of this muscle. By pairing it together with some strength training, you can support your muscle mass. However, collagen isn’t as rich in amino acids as other sources of protein are, so don’t rely on it as your sole type of protein.
If you’re looking to build some muscle, you’ll need to look for foods that have a large amount of essential amino acids, as these help with muscle growth. Try sources like chicken, whey, or tofu.
Additionally, due to collagen being a protein, you might even benefit from it if you’re aiming to shed some weight. It may help you lower the amount of fat your body has.
06 May assist with heart health
Some small-scale investigations have looked at whether the protein can support heart health. The original thought was that as collagen supports blood vessel structure, it may help prevent rigidity, therefore avoiding cardiac events. There may be some true to that, as a study has shown that supplements do help with flexibility of the vessels, however, we need more research in the area for definitive conclusions.
07 May support stronger nails
Do you also experience brittle, peeling nails? Especially when winter comes around? Then collagen might just be what you need. Collagen peptides can help increase how much your nails grow. They can also decrease how often the nails break. Take collagen for a few weeks and see if the health of your nails improves.
You can also add a few beneficial nutrients to further improve your nail health. These include vitamins like biotin, which you can find in many multivitamins, B vitamin supplements or even on its own, like in Maxler Biotin Drops. You can also benefit from minerals like iron, copper or zinc.
08 May be beneficial for hair
If you’re looking for luscious hair, collagen might help you achieve it. It provides the building blocks our body requires to make the main protein in hair, keratin. It can also help fight damaging radicals, which can affect hair growth by damaging follicles. Small marine collagen peptides can stimulate certain cells in our hair by increasing signals that help the hair grow.
09 Can support a youthful skin
It’s never too early to start preparing your skin to age as gracefully as it can. If you’re keen on protecting your youthfulness, collagen can support your efforts. As our collagen-making decreases and we’re less able to make new blood vessels in the skin, it starts becoming less elastic and forming wrinkles. Luckily, additional collagen can help counteract that, supporting a decrease in the appearance of the all-feared wrinkles. And, what’s even better – any type of collagen works for these purposes!
10 Has antioxidant functions
Antioxidants are quite a buzzword these days, and for good reason. These types of compounds help the body take care of free radicals, which are high-energy molecules that can damage how the cells work. Smaller collagen molecules can act as antioxidants. This can be helpful for better hair growth and also for a younger-looking skin.
Collagen is something that’s been on almost everyone’s radar. This structural part of the skin and the body is vital for good health and good looks. There are many types of this protein in the body and different types of it available as supplement. What will work for you will depend on which of the 10 benefits of this protein you want to reap. Collagen can be a useful tool in getting you one step closer to your goals, whether they have to do with appearance or movement.