What is collagen good for?
November 15, 2018
So what exactly is collagen and what is collagen good for? Collagen is the largest and most abundant protein in the body, it's the ground substance. The structural material in the human body is collagen. It's basically the building blocks of 'us', the glue that holds everything within us together. In fact the word 'collagen' derives from the Greek word 'koala', meaning 'glue'.
Collagen is secreted by a variety of different cells, but primarily by connective tissue cells. When we are young, constantly the body produces collagen but production naturally declines with our age, reducing the structural integrity of the skin and leading to the formation of lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. In fact - collagen production declines from around the age of 25 and by the time we hit 40 - we’ve lost a third of our natural collagen.
What is collagen good for?
So what is collagen good for? And should we supplement collagen into our diets? This article will look at the benefits of ingesting liquid hydrolysed collagen which is a vital protein.
- Skin: The effect of the loss of collagen on our skin is often very noticeable, the depletion of it can cause deterioration of our skin and connective tissues. When we are young our collagen levels are at their highest. This is why our children have smooth skin and shiny hair. When collagen becomes weaker and less substantial it begins to sag often showing as crows feet or ‘turkey neck’, what doctors refer to as Ptosis. This is due to collagen depletion. Unfortunately, research shows that collagen levels begin to deplete from the tender age of 25. By the time we get to 40 we will have lost around a third of our collagen, which can cause our skin to wrinkle and sag. By consuming sources of collagen we can improve the outward appearance of the skin. Once ingested, the collagen peptides, which are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream, travel to the dermis of the skin. This is where our fibroblasts reside and they recognise the collagen and use it to repair the structure of the skin’s surface. The additional benefit is that the presence of the collagen promotes the fibroblasts to naturally produce more collagen too - so by supplementing you are encouraging your body’s natural production of this vital protein!
And we have the science to back this up.
The collagen peptides used to create Absolute Collagen have undertaken comprehensive clinical studies in Japan and France – and both confirm the positive effect of taking hydrolysed collagen on skin health.
The Hydrolysed Collagen and Skin Health 2009 Clinical Studies confirm that taking 5 -10ml of hydrolysed marine collagen per day has moisturising and anti-ageing effects.
To examine the efficacy and acceptability of hydrolysed marine collagen peptides – two double-blind, randomised clinical studies versus placebo were carried out on 80 healthy female volunteers between the ages of 35 and 59.
These studies were performed under the correct regulations on clinical studies. Additionally – each subject was placed, for at least 30 minutes, in a room with controlled temperature and humidity prior to each measurement for fair results.
The two studies were as follows:
STUDY 2008 – A00654 - 51: This evaluated the effects of an oral intake of hydrolysed marine collagen peptides on the cutaneous ( which means relating to or affecting the skin) properties versus a placebo. The study was conducted in Lyon, France, by DERMSCAN on 47 women from 35-55 years old for 84 days during winter, each ingesting 10g of marine collagen.
STUDY YNTKK – 2008 – 4144: Double-blind placebo controlled trial of oral supplementation of collagen peptides conducted in Tokoyo, Japan, by SOUKEN on 33 women from 40 to 59 years for 8 weeks during winter, also ingesting 10g of marine collagen.
The results were then measured – skin hydration measurements were taken with a Corneometer ® CM 825 device. This instrument determines the humidity levels of the most external skin layers.
To measure the anti-ageing effects, polymer silicone skin prints were taken from the studied area before and at each time of measurement then studied using the Skin Image Analyser® or 3D roughness analyser. The replica is then observed with a digital camera linked to a computer – where a 1cm2 area is studied.
As well as these studies; the volunteers’ perception of how hydrolysed marine collagen performed was also an integral part of the study.
So what did the results show? 91% of the volunteers taking marine collagen saw their skin hydration increase after 8 weeks daily usage.
The number of ‘micro furrows’ seen in the skin significantly decreased with the use of hydrolysed marine collagen – 26% better in 12 weeks.
Skin suppleness increased by 19% in the hydrolysed collagen group – and there was visual evidence of a reduction in the depth and width of wrinkles.
Additionally – volunteers reported better moisture levels after cleansing and removing make-up, and an increase in skin hydration with 68% of the women saying their skin was less dry.
Those taking the marine collagen also reported improved skin suppleness, skin tonicity and skin brightness compared to those on the placebo.
NO adverse effects were reported in the women taking the hydrolysed marine collagen.
These studies therefore clinically show that ingesting hydrolysed marine collagen daily will:
- Improve skin moisture levels
- Improve skin smoothness by reducing the number of furrows
- Prevent the formation of deep wrinkles
- Improve skin suppleness
However, it's not just sagging skin and aesthetic properties that collagen is good for. Read on for further benefits.
- Muscles; Lean muscle gain and muscle tone, collagen will help with this. You may notice your triceps are heading floorboard, this is due to collagen depletion. As a high protein source - marine collagen peptides as protein supplementation in combination with resistance training may increase muscle mass. If you are someone who exercises you are probably aware of the importance of protein in your diet – but if you think about it muscle isn’t actually built by what you eat but more so how you’re training to rip and rebuild muscle. Any form of workout you do, be it yoga or weights, is aimed at stretching the muscle and producing micro-tears which are then repaired by collagen. Collagen protein also has a high-percentage of the amino-acids glycine and arginine – together they synthesise creatine which helps to improve athletic performance and increase lean body mass.
3. Joints; Collagen can help rebuild joints. Collagen is made of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). The idea here is that your body will use the amino acids to protect and rebuild your joint cartilage and alleviate joint pain.
- Organs; As we age our organs have a floorboard tendency and begin to sag. Often women get a prolapsed uterus, a wearing of the organ due to decreased collagen production as we age. All your organs are made of collagen, even your heart and lungs, collagen also assists in arterial strengthening.
- Bones; You may have heard the term ‘bone on bone’ this is when the disk between the top and bottom bones wear due to age and collagen deficiency. Additionally collagen is vital for bone strength. As you age, your bone mass deteriorates and this can lead to osteoporosis and a greater risk of broken bones.
- Digestive tract and gut health; A common culprit in allergy symptoms is leaky gut, also known as ‘intestinal permeability’. Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the bloodstream. Collagen helps to regulate stomach acid secretion, helping to prevent heartburn, stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions caused by an overly acidic environment. Collagen also helps digestion by holding water in the intestine, helping move food through the intestinal tract more smoothly.
- Hair; Keratin is a protein and is the building block of your hair, and whilst it is not directly found in food, its production is directly affected by how much protein is in your diet. A lack of protein in your diet can have a lasting impact on your hair health. Keratin is made up from amino acids, which your body gets from protein rich foods such as red meat, beans, fish, eggs and milk, as well as vegetables such as kale and asparagus. Absolute Collagen as a supplement provides a full 8 grams of protein containing the essential amino acids that are required by the hair and body. Eva Proudman, Absolute Collagen’s in-house hair expert, ran her own perception trial and the amazing results can be found here
- Nails; Like everything – it all starts from the inside. The nail is nourished through the matrix, which is the very bottom of the nail where the half moon is. This is also where the blood supply is. Taking a liquid collagen supplement will boost the collagen within the skin structure and blood supply to feed the nail and encourage growth - keeping your nails nourished and healthy. Beauty specialist Donna Lears says: “Healthy hair and nail formation can be improved not only with a healthy diet but also with good collagen levels. Collagen is a must for healthy nails.”
- Menopausal symptoms; This can be a tough time for women of a certain age, and taking supplementation can help. Midlife Matters founder Katie Day says: “When our oestrogen levels drop during perimenopause, so do our levels of collagen. That all-important component responsible for plump, bouncy, healthy skin and shiny hair. That’s on the outside.
“On the inside, the drop in collagen can create all sorts of havoc. It impacts on our mucous membranes, one result being that the lining of the vagina can become thin and almost tissue paper like, causing pain with any type of penetration and potential bleeding.
“Collagen is also essential for our joints. Painful joints are another potential impact of the menopausal years, making exercise more challenging and increasing the already debilitating tiredness.
“Ensuring our collagen levels remain high during our menopausal years is a crucial part of navigating this life transition with confidence and ease.”
- Mental wellbeing; Maybe not one you’d think of for what is collagen good for, but thanks to an important amino-acid it contains collagen can help with mental health. Glutamine is considered to be one of the most important and abundant amino acids in the body, created both within our muscles and also obtained from food sources such as Absolute Collagen. Glutamine is said to prevent anxiety, tension, sleep disorders/insomnia, a lack of concentration, poor digestive health, a weakened immune system and low energy. According to a report printed the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s been shown to have positive effects of production of growth hormone, which can improve aspects of mental health, such as helping with release of GABA that boosts feelings of “inner calm and tranquility.” Nitrogen, created by glutamine in high amounts, also helps with wound healing and prevents muscle wasting and joint pains.
So when answering what is collagen good for - it seems there is a plethora of benefits! To begin your own anti-ageing Absolute Collagen journey or read real-life testimonials, click here