What is collagen in the human body?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, making up about 30% of the total protein content. Collagen is comprised of fibre-like protein molecules made up of amino acids & known as the 'glue' which is the main structural component in our connective tissues. The primary role of collagen is to maintain connective tissue health & mechanical properties of the skin.
We produce collagen naturally within our body, a process known as ‘collagen synthesis’ where three key amino acids, proline, glycine & hydroxyproline, play an important role.
There are 28 different types of collagens found in the body, with the most important, Type 1, making up around 90% of the total. The natural process of aging, along with other factors such as stress, inflammatory foods, excessive UV light, lack of sleep & exercise negatively impact collagen production, however there are ways we can slow this process down through diet.
How Can I Add Collagen to My Diet?
The richest source of collagen comes from animals such as cows, fish & chicken, however it is not always the easiest to include in your diet as the collagen-containing cuts of the animal are not so commonly consumed, or easy to prepare. This is where collagen supplements or collagen powders can help!
Some of the key food sources include:
What is Hydrolysed Bovine (Beef) Collagen?
Beef Collagen is a naturally occurring protein found in the bones, tissue, cartilage & hides of cows. These have mostly been considered by-products within the cattle industry, until recently with the increased popularity of beef collagen powder supplements.
Most collagen supplements and collagen powders are created from cow hides, a rich source of Type 1 & Type 3 collagen which are very similar types of collagens to that present in our body. Good quality collagen supplements use an enzymatic hydrolysis (water) process to breakdown the hides & produce the final powdered collagen product.
Depending on the source, manufacturer & specific process, the final molecular weight of the collagen will vary. When the molecular weight is low, the powder is then known as ‘peptides’ or ‘hydrolysed collagen’.
What sets collagen peptides apart is that they are much finer & more easily absorbed than standard collagen powders and supplements, making them much more nutrient efficient when compared to the denser powders.
How Does Collagen Impact Your Health?
What are the Health Benefits of Collagen Peptides?
Research is continuing to explore the many benefits of exogenous collagen intake for the body, with a particular focus around bone, muscle, skin, & gut health. Let’s explore some of the key benefits of integrating collagen peptides.
Supports Bone Strength & Joint Flexibility
Our bones are densely packed with flexible fibres called ‘Collagen’ and then hardened by minerals calcium & phosphorous.A whopping 50% of the bone is formed by collagen, making it an essential prerequisite for maintaining bone quantity & quality.
Collagen not only gives us strong bones but also allows us to move them flexibly via our hinge joints. Moving our joints would be painful without cartilage, ligaments, & tendons, all of which collagen is the major component of.
Bone is a living tissue that is constantly renewing itself, however the density of minerals contained in our bones peaks by age 30. If we provide our bones with the relevant nutrients alongside weight-bearing exercise, adequate sleep & sunshine, our bone mass & mineral density can stabilise, however it will eventually begin to decrease. Bone reduction occurs when the new bone is not renewing fast enough to replace the deterioration of the old bone.
Research has been exploring the role of collagen powders and supplementation in the maintenance and regeneration of bone mass & density, with evidence indicating that supplemented collagen peptides have “…a potential increase in bone mineral density, a protective effect on articular cartilage, and especially in the symptomatic relief of pain”.
Helps Maintain Healthy Skin
Collagen is abundant in our skin & connective tissue, making it a foundational building block for healthy skin.
Bovine collagen peptides are well known to maintain & improve overall skin health, repair damaged skin, manage the effects of aging, plus improve the elasticity, firmness & hydration of skin.
The main reason for this is bovine collagen is mostly made up of the exact same three key amino acids as human collagen: Proline, Glycine,& Hydroxyproline. Together, these aminos play a vital role in keeping our skin healthy, strengthening skin structure, stimulating new skin cell growth & replacing dead cells.
There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the positive effect of collagen peptide supplementation on overall skin quality. One study demonstrated a significant increase in skin hydration after 8 weeks of supplementation, along with increased collagen density in the dermis. It also reported a reduction of the break-down of dermal collagen in only 4 weeks, exhibiting evidence of collagen’s anti-aging properties.
Can Repair the Gut Lining
Muscle Repair & Recovery
Collagen also contains the 3 active amino acids involved in creatine synthesis - arginine, glycine, & methionine. The production of creatine supports athletic performance by allowing the body to produce more energy during times of activity.
How to choose the Best Collagen Peptide Supplement or Collagen Powder
This can be very difficult these days with the number of different choices. The first suggestion is to look for a well-known brand you already trust & may purchase other proven products from. Another is to investigate the information the brand is providing; how much do they understand their product, & it’s potential benefits?
The most important pre-requisites are the sourcing, the process & overall quality of the product.
Here are some key areas to check:
- Grass-fed & grass finished cattle
- 100% Australian sourced, made & owned
- Natural enzyme hydrolysis
- Low molecule weight - highly absorbable
- GMO & Glyphosate Free
- No pesticides, antibiotics, hormones
- 100% natural nutritional profile - no additives (such as synthetic vitamins or flavours)
- Independently tested amino acid profile
What are Low Molecular Weight Collagen Peptides?
The molecular weight of collagen is an important factor when considering how much to consume & from which sources (such as bone both VS a hydrolysed collagen) as the molecule size affects its absorbability. The lower the molecular weight (measured in Daltons), the easier the cell can absorb the collagen. The molecular weight of native collagen (animal bones, cartilage etc) is 285,000-300,000 Daltons, where as many 'standard' hydrolysed collagens result in a low (2000-6000 Daltons) molecular weight.
Some brands have developed this even further, such as Cell Squared’s premium standard, Grass-Fed & Finished Bovine Beef Collagen Peptides. CellTomic™ is the collagen peptides’ atomic molecular weight of 960 Daltons, this ultra-low molecular weight results in much more highly absorbable nutrients; our body is able to uptake & use the aminos within the collagen peptides at a much greater efficiency.
Gram for gram when compared with others, this collagen maximises the potential benefits from all 18 amino acids. Cell Squared collagen is sourced from 100% natural, certified pasture-raised, grass-fed & finished, Australian farmed cattle. Gently processed right in here in Australia using natural enzymatic hydrolysis to create an ultra-fine collagen powder & highly bio-available amino acid profile which is then tested & verified while also checking for impurities like heavy metals.