Everything You Need To Know About Collagen – MCTco

Everything You Need To Know About Collagen

One of the biggest trends in the health and fitness industry these days is collagen. With promises of stronger hair, dewy skin, and pain free joints, collagen supplements are popping up everywhere.

When a supplement rises to the top of popularity, the big question is, what’s real and what’s not? The question is simple, but the answer? Not so much. So, here it is. Everything you need to know about collagen.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein. It gives structure to our hair, skin, nails, bone, ligaments, tendons, and many other body parts including blood vessels and corneas.

Our body naturally makes collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids, which are the building blocks to collagen. As we age, our body’s natural collagen production begins to decline, which may lead to the appearance of wrinkles and a decrease in skin elasticity. 

SUMMARY - Collagen is a protein that provides structure to our body, including bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments.

What are The Main Types Of Collagen?

There are over 16 types of collagen in the human body, but we’ll focus on three main types for this article. The three main types of collagen are type I, II, and III.

Type I Collagen

Type I collagen is the most prevalent type of collagen in the human body. It accounts for around 90% of your body's overall collagen. The majority of Type I collagen is found in your hair, skin, nails, tendons, and other structures such as organs. Because type I collagen is so prevalent in these connective tissues, a decrease in type I collagen often results in sagging skin, wrinkles, brittle nails, and thinning hair.

Type II Collagen

Although type II collagen is less prevalent in the human body than type I, it still has an extremely important role. It’s a main component of elastic cartilage, which is responsible for cushioning your joints.

Type III Collagen

The third main type of collagen is type III collagen. It is a major structural protein for hollow organs like blood vessels and bowels as well as muscle. It’s often found alongside type I collagen throughout the body.

SUMMARY - There are over 16 types of collagen found throughout the human body, but type I, II, and III are the main types.

What are The Benefits Of Supplementing Collagen?

Collagen for Muscle Development

When it comes to protein, most people immediately think of building muscle. Yes collagen is a protein, but it’s not exactly the post child of muscle gain.. 

When it comes to building muscle, protein quality is largely dependent on the amino acid profile of its source. Protein sources such as meat, low-fat dairy, and whey protein powder have some of the best amino acid profiles for muscle gain. They contain all 9 essential amino acids in high levels, including Leucine, the amino acid responsible for initiating the muscle building process.



Essential Amino Acid

Collagen Peptides (per 11g)

Whey Protein Concentrate (per 11g)

Cysteine

10mg

231mg

Histidine

80mg

187mg

Isoleucine

149mg

693mg

Leucine

310mg

1,115mg

Lysine

396mg

1,203mg

Threonine

187mg

759mg

Tyrosine

58mg

352mg

Tryptophan

2mg

198mg

Valine

209mg

638mg



While collagen does have all 9 essential amino acids, it contains them in lower levels than the protein sources listed above.

That doesn’t mean collagen supplements don’t have their place! As you’ll see below, collagen has other benefits that other proteins don’t.

SUMMARY -  Collagen supplements do have benefits as you’ll soon find out, but if your primary goal is muscle development, you’re better off taking whey protein or just eating meat.

Collagen for Skin Health

Most people interested in collagen are interested in its potential to mitigate wrinkles and support healthy skin, not using it as a muscle building supplement. This is where collagen can really shine!

There have been multiple studies over the last few years that have shown some positive effects on skin health and elasticity.
Two studies that were published in 2014 showed that 2.5g and 5g of bioactive collagen peptides per day had a positive effect on the skin elasticity in women over 45 years old. 

Another 2015 study out of the UK showed positive effects on wrinkle depth in post-menopausal women when they consumed a mixture of collagen peptides, vitamins, and minerals. 

Taking supplements or foods that contain collagen may help slow the aging of skin, support skin elasticity, and support overall skin health. That alongside an overall healthy diet, exercise, and using sun protection is probably your best bet when it comes to maintaining young, healthy looking skin. 

SUMMARY -  The studies above along with others offer positive results when it comes to mitigating age related wrinkles and skin elasticity when supplementing with collagen.

Collagen for Joint Support

While most people who take collagen supplements seem to be focused on wrinkle reduction, another interesting benefit is its potential to support joints. 

Collagen is a component that helps maintain the integrity of your joint cartilage. As the amount of collagen in our bodies decreases as we age, we have an increased risk of developing degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. 
Some studies have shown that supplementing with collagen can help reduce osteoarthritis symptoms along with improving joint pain overall. 

There is also a 2018 study that showed positive results in skin elasticity AND and improvements in joint pain after three months of consuming a nutritional drink containing collagen, vitamins, and glucosamine.

Overall, research seems to show a benefit to collagen supplementation for overall joint health, however many studies were done in arthritic populations. To make a strong claim that collagen supplementation can have the same joint health benefits in a younger population, more studies need to be done. However, what we see now is promising!

SUMMARY -  Collagen supplements show benefits in joint health, especially when it comes to the arthritic population. 

How Does Collagen Supplementation Work?

First, let’s quickly go over what a protein is. A protein is made up of multiple chains of amino acids called peptides. Normally, when you consume protein, it’s broken down into the individual amino acids that make up the protein. Those amino acids can then be used as individual building blocks for different structures and processes throughout the body.

So, if the collagen peptides from my collagen supplement are just broken down into individual amino acids, how does it offer any benefit to skin and joints?

Good question! If we knew that collagen was completely broken down with digestion, it’s pretty unlikely it would offer any additional benefit to our skin and joints. The body would simply use the available amino acids for processes throughout the body.

However, it seems that in the case of hydrolyzed collagen (more on that below) some of those amino acid peptide chains actually make it into the bloodstream without being broken down into individual amino acids.

The specific peptide that seems to remain intact through digestion is called prolyl-hydroxyproline (Pro-Hyp). This peptide is the peptide of focus when it comes to skin health and joint support.

SUMMARY - Protein is usually broken down into individual amino acids during digestion. Hydrolyzed collagen contains a peptide (Pro-Hyp) that keeps its structure and can enter the bloodstream. Pro-Hyp is the peptide that supports skin and joint health. 

What Kind of Collagen Should You Take?

Now that you know the strengths and weaknesses of collagen, you might be wondering, “what kind of collagen supplement should I take?”

The thing to remember is that quality means everything. For example, Jell-O is mostly made of gelatin, which is basically just cooked down collagen. However, this doesn’t mean eating a cup of Jello-O each day will give you the potential benefits of collagen supplementation.

You want to look for “collagen peptides” or “hydrolyzed collagen” and consume around 2.5 - 10g per day. There is no downside to taking more than 10g a day, that’s just what was used in the referenced studies. 

Luckily, our MCT Collagen Bar contains 7-8 grams of hydrolyzed collagen from grass-fed bovine in every bar!Not only do MCT Collagen Bars have hydrolyzed collagen, but also contain only 3 g net carbs, and are some of the best tasting collagen bars on the market!

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