Your Collagen Questions Answered!

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is the largest part of the extracellular matrix (a network in our body that provides support and structure to our cells). This matrix supports smooth, firm and strong skin. Collagen is a protein that regulates skin physiology and skin structure, predominantly made by the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. 

The type of collagen and how it has been extracted are the main factors that affect its function. Type 1 is the most common in skin, bone, teeth, tendons, ligaments and organs. Type 2 is in cartilages and type 3 is contained in the skin, muscle and blood vessels.

What impacts our natural collagen levels?

Collagen formation gradually declines in ageing skin and the structural makeup of the skin can start to reduce when the collagen structure loses its strength and stability. Elements that can exacerbate this include sunlight, smoking, environmental pollution, alcohol and nutrient deficiencies. The elasticity of the skin is destroyed, wrinkles can appear and the skin can become thinner and dryer due to the reduction in collagen. 

Our skin also contains high levels of vitamin C which is a well known antioxidant that can protect against UV damage from the sun as well as stimulate collagen production. Skin cells in connective tissue depend on vitamin C for collagen production and to regulate the balance of collagen and elastin.  

How do collagen supplements work?

Collagen works in two ways in the skin. Firstly, it supplies the building blocks for collagen and elastin production and secondly it holds together the cells in the connective tissue in the skin to produce collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. 

Collagen supplements have been found to regulate skin functions and can therefore be useful in the treatment of skin ageing. 

Marine Collagen has an anti-ageing effect on human skin demonstrated through a recent clinical trial revealing a significant increase in skin elasticity in a group of women aged 35-55 years. The same group of scientists also demonstrated a substantial reduction in skin wrinkles after daily consumption of a collagen hydrolysate.

What are the benefits of drinking or taking collagen supplements?

Marine collagen is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body, which means that it is more bioavailable than bovine or porcine types. As it is absorbed more efficiently and enters the bloodstream faster, it is considered a superior form of collagen.

Studies have researched the impact of marine collagen peptides and their anti-ageing effects. Marine collagen has been shown to support human skin elasticity, increase skin hydration, reduce wrinkles and support the musculoskeletal system.

Why is collagen good for more than just skin?

Collagen has more benefits than just its effects on skin physiology. It can also protect hair against chemical damages and help to support the musculoskeletal system. In a study conducted, marine collagen was found to increase the level of skin moisture and the same collagen was able to penetrate and spread into the fibres of hair cells. 

Collagen’s protective effects on muscles were demonstrated through a study that showed that the combination of resistance exercise and collagen supplementation improved body composition, increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat mass compared to placebo in older men with sarcopenia. Muscle strength was also enhanced after collagen intake. 

When would you typically see results after taking collagen supplements?

A study was conducted in which marine collagen peptides were shown to increase the skin moisture level by 12% in a period of 8 weeks and the collagen density in the skin also increased. Results were maintained after 12 weeks.

However, Individual results may vary and what works in a certain timeframe for one, may differ for another. 

Are there any side effects to taking collagen supplements?

Collagen supplements are not commonly known to have side effects, however always ensure that you’re always guided by your health professional to assess if taking a collagen supplement is suitable for your individual needs. Individual results and effects of supplements do vary.

References:

Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. 

León-López A, Morales-Peñaloza A, Martínez-Juárez VM, Vargas-Torres A, Zeugolis DI, Aguirre-Álvarez G. Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules. 2019;24(22):4031. Published 2019 Nov 7. 

Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. Published 2017 Aug 12. 

Vollmer DL, West VA, Lephart ED. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(10):3059. Published 2018 Oct 7. 

Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.  

Ramasamy Sripriya, Ramadhar Kumar (2015) A Novel Enzymatic Method for Preparation and Characterization of Collagen Film from Swim Bladder of Fish Rohu (Labeo rohita). Food and Nutrition Sciences,06,1468-1478.

Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, Prawitt J. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301.

Chai, HJ., Li, JH., Huang, HN., Li, TL., Chan YL., Shiau, CY., Wu, CJ. (2010) Effects of size and conformations of fish-scale collagen peptides on facial skin qualities and transdermal penetration efficiency. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2010, 1-8. 

Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(8):1237-1245.