Collagen peptides are all the rage right now. I feel like every time I open Instagram I see a video of some beauty blogger adding these to her coffee. This is a supplement I actually take and have researched in great detail, so I thought I would share my knowledge in case you were intrigued.
First of all, what is collagen?
Collagen is one of our bodies’ most important building blocks and makes up about 30% of the protein in our bodies. It is a key structural protein contributing to elasticity and regeneration of connective tissue – including skin, tendons, ligaments and bones. Unfortunately, with age our bodies start to produce less collagen and the signs of aging begin to occur. Collagen is made of primarily three amino acids: proline, hydroxyproline and glycine. Three very long chains of these amino acids are twisted together very tightly into a helix formation to create collagen. This collagen, in its native form, due to its size, is too difficult to break down during digestion and so it cannot be absorbed.
Collagen as a supplement is most commonly available as either collagen peptides or collagen gelatin.
What are collagen peptides and how are they different than collagen?
Collagen peptides are created by enzymatically hydrolysis of collagen. Hydrolysis is basically the breaking down of molecular bonds between individual strands of collagen into shorter strands with a lower molecular weight. Our bodies can more effectively absorb these shorter and lighter collagen peptides and they act as building blocks to boost production of new collagen and stimulate cell metabolism.
What is gelatin?
Gelatin is collagen that has undergone partial hydrolysis, making it not as bioavailable as collagen peptides. Also, gelatin will only dissolve in hot water, whereas collagen peptides can dissolve in hot or cold liquids.
Is collagen found in foods?
Yes, it is found in bone broths, as bone broths are made by slowly cooking bones and cartilage in water to form gelatin. The collagen in the animal bones and connective tissue is slowly turned into gelatin that dissolves in the broth. As this collagen is in a gelatin form, it will not be as easily absorbed as collagen peptides.
So, what are the benefits of collagen peptide supplementation?
Recent studies have shown collagen to be more filling than other types of protein. According to one clinical trial, collagen was found to be 40% more filling than whey, casein or soy. Another trial among obese individuals found the intake of hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) stimulated the release of satiety hormones.
Reduces wrinkles, hydrates skin and helps to smooth cellulite
Collagen is the essential component of the dermis layer of the skin. Supplementation with collagen peptides has been shown to increase skin flexibility and hydration and reduce the depth of wrinkles.
Personally, this is the biggest benefit I have seen. I have chronic dry and dehydrated skin and since I started taking collagen peptides I have noticed a HUGE difference. Also, if I run out and don’t take them for a few weeks I can tell that my skin is noticeably drier.
Stronger + healthier hair and nails
The growth of hair follicles is dependent on collagen in the dermal layer of our skin. As we age and collagen decreases the amount and thickness of hair follicles also decreases.
There are so many more benefits of collagen related to strengthening of bones and joints, reduction of arthritis and injury and gut health. I feel like this blog post is long enough though, so if you are interested in learning more about collagen peptide supplementation let me know and I’ll do a follow up post.
Here are a few studies related to collagen and the benefits I spoke to in this post.
- Rubio, IG, and Gláucia Castro. “Oral Ingestion of a Hydrolyzed Gelatin Meal in Subjects with Normal Weight and in Obese Patients: Postprandial Effect on Circulating Gut Peptides, Glucose and Insulin.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2008.
- Veldhorst, Margriet AB, et al. “A breakfast with alpha-lactalbumin, gelatin, or gelatin+ TRP lowers energy intake at lunch compared with a breakfast with casein, soy, whey, or whey-GMP.” Clinical Nutrition 28.2 (2009): 147-155.
- Asseran J, Elian L, Toshiaki S, Prawitt, P, “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.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
Jenn Likover, RD