You must have heard the word ‘collagen’ plenty of times in your life, but what exactly is it, and why is it important to us? Collagen is a type of amino acid that is useful for building muscle, hair, skin, bone and cartilage.
Amino acids have become quite a popular health trend nowadays with people investing in collagen supplements and bone broths to get all the essential amino acids that make up a protein.
There are plenty of amino acids out there but the ones that make up collagen are the most commonly found in your body due to the role they play as building blocks of tissues and skin.
As you grow older, the collagen production in your body slows down which is why most people turn to supplements and food products that contain this essential protein.
Most collagen products found on the market are predominantly made of animal parts such as skin and bones of a cow or fish scales (vegans, be aware). But do these supplements really work? Here’s everything you need to know.
Different Types of Collagen
There isn’t just one type of collagen that will fulfill all your health needs. There are at least a dozen different types of this protein, made up on various amino acid or ‘peptide’ structures.
The collagen that makes up our skin differs from those which form tendons and cartilage. Moreover, there are plenty of different varieties of collagen supplements, making it tricky to figure out which one you need.
Most collagen peptide powders on the market contain type-I collagen which is taken from skin and bones of animals.
Through the hydrolization process, the branched chain amino acids are converted into simpler unit to make it easier to dissolve in liquids. Collagen supplements are also high in protein with two scoops containing as much as 18 grams.
Collagen and Joint Health
There are several studies that show how collagen can benefit health by reducing the symptoms of arthritis. One research showed that osteoarthritis patients who took 40 mg of collagen every day experienced a 26 per cent decrease in their pain, although no explanation was given as to how collagen reduced the symptoms of arthritis.
The author of the study speculated that collagen supplements may have helped the patients by reducing inflammation in their bodies.
Nutritionists are skeptical of collagen supplement’s beauty benefits. Many of them think that it makes no sense that what you swallow will magically appear as the same thing in your hair, skin and nails – that’s not how digestion works.
One dermatologist, Adam Friedman, says that there is no way that collagen supplements offer benefit for your skin and hair. He explains that the supplements are digested in our GI tract because they aren’t made to survive major pH changes in our body.
A study in 2002 showed that enzymes and acids in your gut can digest hydrolyzed collagen that is taken in the form of powder supplements. But the same study found that type-II collagen, which is found in chickens, is able to keep its nature even after being absorbed from the gut.
There isn’t much evidence that shows link between collagen supplements and improved hair and skin health, but some evidence suggests that these supplements can reduce inflammation in your digestive tract and speed up digestion.
The evidence came from a study which tested amino acids separately in a lab instead of experimenting with collagen supplements, making it difficult to trust the results.
Not Regulated by FDA
None of the supplements including collagen is regulated by .S. Food & Drug Administration which can raise questions on its safety and effectiveness.
The only time FDA is interferes is when a supplement manufacturer claims that their product can actually cure diseases or if it has nasty side effects that makes people sick. Since FDA doesn’t take responsibility for these supplements, it is up to you to do your research before buying a product.