Collagen, it promised to resolve all of our health problems from broken nails, lack lustre hair and bloating, but what does the science say?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a string of amino acids joined together to form a collagen peptide, the same as any other protein. Collagen is normally found in the connect tissues and skin of any human or animal. Humans get collagen through their food, but also make their own out of amino acids obtained through the protein rich foods in their diet.
Collagen plays an important role in the structure of your skin and bone, as well as in repair and ageing. Collagen naturally decreases as you age, and is one of the main reasons the skin starts to show signs of ageing and begins to wrinkle.
We once thought that collagen peptides or collagen supplements would be broken down in the gut just like the protein from a meal of chicken or fish would. We now know that while some of the collagen breaks down, some passes through the gut and into the blood stream as whole collagen peptides. The body can then use these whole collagen peptides for growth and repair.
Collagen supplements are made from either fish or beef bones, skins, or scales. The collagen is extracted then undergoes a process called hydrolysis which turns it into hydrolysed collagen making the collagen peptides smaller and easier to absorb. When buying collagen supplements, you will most often find the form listed as ‘hydrolysed collagen’ this helps improve the absorption.
Can I include more collagen in my diet?
Yes you can! There was once a time when humans ate a lot more collagen than we currently do, and it all came from seafood and animals. Slow cooked meats cooked on the bone, bone broth, whole small fish with the bone, and soups made from whole animal parts all included a lot more collagen than just eating a filet of the animal with very little connective tissue, skin or bone. You can easily increase the collagen content of your diet by consuming eggs, bone broth, slow cooked meat on the bone, and fish with tiny bones, like tinned salmon and sardines, as well as cooked fish with the skin on.
Should you be taking a supplement to help boost your collagen intake?
Early research suggests that collagen supplements are helpful to help support wound healing and to reduce the signs of ageing, but the jury is still out on collagen for gut health and skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. Me Today has put together a Beauty formula that contains both collagen, and important collagen precursors and cofactors. One collagen precursor is vitamin C, which is needed in order to make collagen to keep skin plump. The me|today Beauty supplement also contains nutrients like zinc, silica and selenium to help maintain the integrity of the skin and structures like collagen, helping to keep the collagen you do have, around for longer.
How long until I notice changes?
The magic number for skin improvements in most small studies suggests that you need to wait 90 days before deciding if collagen is helping to improve your skin texture and structure.
Are there any downsides to taking collagen?
Collagen is a very safe beauty supplement to try as it is a substance your body makes itself anyway, you are just topping up your levels. The only thing to remember is that it is not a vegan product.
Always read the label and use as directed. Supplementary to a balanced diet, Me Today, Auckland.