If you aren’t here for any information about products, scroll down to the first title called “What is Collagen?”
I don’t want your experience of this post to be littered with advertisements and affiliate links. That information will only be here at the top of the article and the very bottom.
The rest of the article is purely informational to let you know what collagen is and how collagen supplements work.
If you are interested in my four favorite supplements, you can always scroll back up here and get the info. Here they are:
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It can be found in bones, muscles, skin, ligaments and tendons.
It works to give structure to the body such as strengthening bones and maintaining skin elasticity.
Collagen is considered the decisive protein that determines skin physiology.
As we age, our collagen production declines naturally. We can stimulate collagen production with a diet rich in amino acids which are found in fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Avoiding certain lifestyle choices such as excessive sun exposure or smoking can also slow the process of declining collagen production.
Still, over time there is no way to completely avoid it.
The best we can probably do is make healthy lifestyle choices and bolster our efforts with a supplement that is backed by science.
Human consumption of collagen began in various regions of Asia, where the protein was viewed as a “fountain of youth”.
Women would commonly consume collagen directly from animal sources to maintain a younger appearance.
In Shanghai, you can still get ancient dishes such as boiled birds nest crab yolk soup, as pictured below.
Dishes like this one, among others, never became popular in Western cultures. However, the desire for youthful-looking skin was just the same.
Enter the world of injectable fillers.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Collagen is injected directly into the skin by a trained medical professional (hopefully). It is usually done to smooth out wrinkles, fill out skin depressions, and reduce the appearance of scars.
Today, you can ingest collagen in a multitude of ways. Tablets, capsules, powders, and even drinks are available to the masses.
Hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides, or collagen hydrolysate are all terms to describe what you are getting when you take one of these collagen supplements.
It simply means collagen that has gone through a process of hydrolysis, which is a chemical process that breaks down collagen into its smaller parts. Specifically, amino acids or “peptides”.
The reason for hydrolysis is to make collagen more easily digestible.
When collagen peptides are ingested, they are further metabolized to bioactive peptides in the gastrointestinal tract.
These peptides are then released into the bloodstream and accumulated in different tissues, including the deeper layers of skin such as the dermis.
The dermis, which is the skin layer beneath the outermost layer (the epidermis), becomes thinner as collagen loosens & unravels and causes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Hydrolyzed collagen activates cells in the dermis causing the production of elastin and collagen.
After ingestion, collagen peptides can remain in the dermis up to 14 days, ensuring skin protection from sunlight and improving moisture retention in addition to repairing collagen fibers.
One randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study done in Germany confirmed that skin aging could be addressed using nutrients that are able to restore skin hydration, elasticity, and density.
Objective measurements used in dermatology have proven that oral collagen peptides combined with other dermonutrients significantly improve the following skin characteristics after three months of intake:
Additionally, participants in this study confirmed in subjective assessments that their skin appearance had significantly improved.
The collagen supplement proved to be safe and well-tolerated during and after the period of application with no reported side effects.
Unlike topically applied products such as creams and lotions, the oral ingestion of the collagen peptides reached the skin’s deeper layers and sustainably improved skin physiology and appearance.
The study concluded that the orally ingested collagen peptides and skin nutrients allowed for a long-lasting and cosmetically relevant regeneration of the skin.
Collagen production isn’t only important for skin health, it is necessary for the health of our joints as well.
Cartilage is a protective tissue that needs collagen to help maintain its integrity. As collagen production decreases, so does cartilage.
An increased risk of developing degenerative joint diseases like arthritis is associated with a decline in cartilage.
A study from the University of Illinois showed that taking collagen supplements can improve symptoms of arthritis and improve overall joint pain.
Another study from Penn State University produced similar results. Those who consumed the collagen had a meaningful decrease in joint pain compared to the group that did not.
A third study was done to investigate the effect of collagen peptides on activity-related joint pain in athletes who are physically active and have no evidence of joint disease.
In this study, joint pain, mobility, and inflammation were evaluated for 147 participants during a 24-week study phase.
When hydrolyzed collagen was ingested versus the placebo, the results showed statistically significant positive changes in the following five parameters:
- Joint pain at rest
- Pain in joints when walking
- Joint pain when standing
- Pain in joints when carrying objects
- Joint pain when lifting
The study concluded that there was improvement of joint pain in athletes who were treated with the collagen supplement.
Despite the study’s size and limitations, the results suggest that athletes consuming collagen supplements can reduce elements (such as pain) that have a negative impact on performance.
Hair and Nails
Most of the research today has has shown statistical evidence for collagen supplements’ positive impact on the skin and joints.
Less research and clinical trials are available on the effects of collagen supplements on hair, but it is still worth mentioning.
Keratin is the protein that makes up hair. Since collagen is rich in amino acids that your body needs to build keratin, it suggests that collagen could aid in sustaining healthy hair and even hair growth.
Additionally, since collagen protects the layer of skin that contains hair roots, it may help prevent age-related hair loss and thinning.
Lastly, collagen can act as an antioxidant to fight free radicals. Free radicals are associated with damaged hair follicles and the process that accelerates hair turning gray.
The effects of collagen supplements on nails have not been studied extensively.
Speaking from personal experience, my wife’s nails were stronger than ever after using a collagen supplement for one month.
She also said they grew much faster while taking collagen and became more brittle after discontinuing use.
You can and should try to improve your diet to stimulate collagen production. Why not double your efforts by taking collagen peptides directly?
There are many different collagen supplements but only some contain BioCell, which is composed of type II hydrolyzed collagen.
In a study by Schwartz and Park, 26 healthy women were given 1g of BioCell collagen daily.
After 12 weeks, the women showed a significant reduction in skin dryness and wrinkles.
Laboratory investigations also showed an increase in collagen in the dermis layer of skin after six weeks.
In addition to the visible changes to the skin, the final results showed physiological changes. Specifically, to the metabolism of the molecules in the outer two layers of the skin.
It is known that skin aging is closely related to the molecular metabolism of the cells in the dermis layer.
Since BioCell type II hydrolyzed collagen has proven to reduce wrinkles, dry skin, and cause cellular changes in the dermis layer, it only makes sense to look into products with this ingredient.
Below are some of my favorites:
Four Products That Contain BioCell
Known for improving joint mobility & lubrication, supporting cardiovascular health, and improving skin’s hydration, firmness, and tone.
Known for fueling physical & mental performance, promoting healthy tendons, joints, muscles & ligaments, and boosting muscle recovery.
Known for reducing wrinkles, improving skin’s hydration, and increasing skin’s collagen content.
Known for improving joint mobility & lubrication and improving skin’s hydration, firmness, and tone. Sugar-free with no calories or carbs.