Let’s Talk Collagen

It seems to be everywhere these days, from collagen powders to shots, collagen pills to capsules – but what is collagen and why do we need it? Here we’ll explain everything you need to know, starting with the basics, before delving into the science behind collagen supplements and how they may be of benefit to you.

What is collagen?

 Collagen is a type of protein. In fact, it is the most abundant structural protein in the human body, making up about 30% of our body’s total protein. So it is no surprise that it can be found throughout the body, from our skin and hair to our muscles and joints.

Our bodies produce collagen naturally from amino acids (the building block of proteins) – mainly  proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. It also needs the right amount of vitamin C, zinc, copper and manganese to form the collagen proteins completely. These collagen proteins form a fibre-like structure which is used to make connective tissue. Connective tissue is a type of tissue that connects other tissues and is a major component of skin, hair, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints, teeth, and many other parts of the body.

 

Why is collagen important?

Collagen is the glue that holds our body together. It is an essential component of connective tissue, which binds our bodily structures together and forms a framework for the body as a whole.

Collagen is vital for our health, more specifically it:

  • Gives structure, strength and elasticity to skin
  • Helps to replace dead skin cells
  • Allows new skin cells to grow
  • Provides strength, structure and support to our body tissues, such as muscle tissue and bone tissue, making them strong and resilient.
  • Helps blood to clot
  • Provides a protective covering for organs

 

Types of collagen

While there have been 28 different types of collagen identified, the three main types are Type I, II and III.

Type I makes up 90% of the body’s collagen. It is found in almost every tissue, including skin, connective tissue, tendons, bones and ligaments. This is also the type most commonly found in collagen supplements.

Type II is mainly found in cartilage.

Type III is found in blood vessels, intestines, organs and skin. This collagen helps blood to clot and wounds to heal.

 

Collagen and ageing

Like many things in life, the importance of collagen is most apparent in its absence. Unfortunately, as we age our bodies gradually make less collagen, and the collagen that is made becomes more fragmented and less well distributed throughout the body1. This change in collagen production and distribution contributes to many of the natural signs of ageing, such as:

  • Loss of skin elasticity and firmness, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging
  • Weakened muscles and muscle aches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Weakened bones and increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduced flexibility

 

Can collagen levels be maintained as we age?

While there is no way to halt this age-related decline in collagen completely (no matter how much we wish there was!), we can take steps to limit its depletion.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet can help to protect our natural collagen. When it comes to diet, high-protein foods that contain glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline – the amino acids that make collagen – are believed to nurture collagen production. These include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy. It is also important to ensure we’re getting the other nutrients our body needs to form collagen like zinc and vitamin C.

Along with a healthy and balanced diet, some other lifestyle habits that may benefit collagen levels include:

  • Avoiding smoking – Smoking can damage collagen and decrease collagen production
  • Wearing SPF and reducing exposure to UV light – Sunlight can reduce collagen production and cause collagen to break down more quickly
  • Limiting alcohol consumption – Excessive drinking has been shown to reduce collagen production
  • Getting adequate sleep – Sleep deprivation affects collagen production
  • Managing stress levels – Long-term stress results in chronically high cortisol levels which are associated with decreased collagen production
  • Reducing intake of high-sugar, processed foods – A diet high in added sugar and ultra-processed foods can weaken collagen and reduce collagen turnover

 

The benefits of collagen supplements

Collagen supplements come in the form of powders, shots, pills and capsules and have become an increasingly popular and convenient option for boosting collagen levels. Collagen supplementation is associated with several health benefits:

Skin Health: One of the most popular uses of collagen supplements is to support skin health. Current research indicates that taking collagen supplements can improve skin health and appearance. A review of 19 studies with a total of 1,125 participants aged between 20 and 70 years (95% women) found that supplementing with hydrolysed collagen improved skin hydration and elasticity and reduced the appearance of wrinkles2. This occurs due to the collagen peptides in the supplement being absorbed by the gut and transported in the bloodstream to the skin where they accumulate to form new collagen fibres. The review concluded that collagen supplementation can delay and improve the signs of skin aging by decreasing facial wrinkles and improving skin hydration and elasticity, while the supplementation is maintained. The time required to delay skin ageing in most studies was 90 days, and the results were maintained for 4 weeks after the end of supplementation.

Healthy Hair and Nails: Collagen supplements contain amino acids that our bodies use to build keratin, another important protein in hair and nails. Collagen supplementation has been found to increase nail growth, decrease the frequency of broken nails, and improve brittle nails3.

Bone Health: Bones are made up mostly of collagen. Collagen supplements taken long-term have been shown to help increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women who are at a greater risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis4,5.

Joint Health: There is also evidence to suggest that oral collagen supplementation can reduce symptoms related to osteoarthritis, including stiffness6.

 

SOMEGA Collagen Plus

SOMEGA Collagen Plus is a powdered collagen supplement expertly designed to contain a very high amount (7,000mg) of Type 1 hydrolysed marine collagen. Hydrolysed collagen is a form of collagen that is broken down into smaller fragments so that the body absorbs it more easily. SOMEGA Collagen Plus also contains:

  • Nine essential vitamins and minerals which contribute to skin, hair and nail health, including vitamin C, copper and zinc which our body needs to produce collagen
  • Hyaluronic acid, which plays a key role in maintaining skin moisture
  • Two botanical extracts, Red Orange Complex and aronia berry extract which are rich in antioxidants and support both skin and overall health

SOMEGA Collagen Plus has a delicious natural berry flavour and can be easily added to water, juices, smoothies, warm drinks, and even used in baking recipes.

You can shop SOMEGA Collagen Plus here.

SOMEGA Collagen Plus

 

*While collagen supplements are generally safe and aren’t linked with side effects, always consult a healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement regime, especially if you are pregnant, on medication, or taking any other supplements. 

References

  1. Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, Fligiel SE, Kang S, Fisher GJ, Voorhees JJ. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1861-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1606623/
  2. de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Dec;60(12):1449-1461. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33742704/
  3. Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):520-526. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28786550/
  4. König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793325/
  5. Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, König D. Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides in Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: Long-Term Observation in Postmenopausal Women. J Bone Metab. 2021 Aug;28(3):207-213. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8441532/
  6. García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019 Mar;43(3):531-538. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30368550/

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