Did you know that there is a single supplement linked to a multiple number of health benefits, literally from head to toe? In fact, given its remarkable influence on our well-being, you’d think it would be a staple in every pantry around the country. It’s not quite there yet, but its profile is well and truly growing.
So, let’s find out more about collagen – what it is, how and why it works, and five reasons to take what some often call the ‘miracle molecule’.
What is collagen?
For starters, without it our bodies would quite literally fall apart. A type of protein, it comprises chains of amino acids that form a triple helix shape.
So, think of something like a really strongly-woven rope with three strands. That’s the structure that builds these robust but flexible fibres within our bodies. It is found in our bones, ligaments, tendons, hair, eyes and organs (including the skin) and is, in fact, the most abundant protein not only in our bodies but across the animal kingdom.
We produce it naturally by consuming it in our diet. Animal products from cows, fish, pigs and chickens tend to be the most common sources.
Types of collagen
You may have seen references to Type I, II, III and even X collagen. This is where some confusion can set in, as there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to collagen Types. As it turns out, scientists continue to discover different Types! Currently, there are at least 28, however, Types I, II and III are most significant when it comes to humans.
What’s interesting is that in the majority of cases, it doesn’t matter what type you take. To clarify, taking Type I collagen does not give you Type I collagen. Your body will not discriminate and will break down the majority of Types in the same ways.
Once the body has broken down the protein into smaller chains or individual amino acids, it then uses them for whatever it needs all over the body. This may be for healing, repair, rejuvenation or growth and may also include the production of collagen in the body. So, it’s ultimately the body that decides where to best allocate this goodness and it does so, regardless of the type of collagen you consume.
Ageing affects our ability to produce collagen
Although we do a great job of producing our own collagen, there is a catch. Ageing. From about our mid-twenties, our production levels begin to decrease gradually, but progressively. This is when we can turn to supplements in an effort to maintain levels in our bodies. These supplements can come in a variety of different forms such as powder, pills, gels or gummies.
When it comes to caring for your health and well-being, it’s always good to be informed and aware of the products available. We suggest keeping in mind the following:
- Make sure you always check for additives and flavourings as many are artificial.
- Avoid sweeteners at all costs, because all sugar destroys collagen in the body. In addition, compare the daily serving size and the cost per serving.
- Powders are often far cheaper than capsules, shots and gummies, and have a much higher dose.
- Check the credentials of any collagen you buy to ensure it is produced to the strictest EU regulatory standards and has full safety certification. The industry is growing fast and there are a lot of unscrupulous sellers out there looking to make a quick buck with fancy packaging and misleading claims.
Reasons to take collagen
Now that we understand more about this powerful protein and what to look for when we are buying, it is easy to grasp the extent of potential benefits. So, let’s look at five of the most compelling reasons to take collagen.
1. Muscle – for smart recovery
Skeletal muscle comprises different Types of collagens that work with other essential components (proteoglycans, glycoproteins, integrins) to provide structure. When mechanical loading takes place (i.e. – sports training), collagen appears to be the most sensitive of the components affected.
Studies have shown that taking a protein supplement before and after strenuous exercise may lead to a reduction in muscle soreness.
For a particularly interesting podcast about collagen and training, we suggest listening to this STEM podcast with Dr Keith Barr, who is head of the Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.
2. Gut – for a happy microbiome
Have you heard of leaky gut? It’s a syndrome that many believe occurs when the lining of the intestinal wall is compromised, allowing toxins to leak through the gut and into the system. The result can be anything from uncomfortable bloating, pain, digestion difficulty and fatigue.
You may hear collagen referred to as the substance that can ‘heal and seal’ the gut, strengthening the intestinal wall and providing integrity to minimise leakage. The result is a happier, healthier gut that enjoys a better-balanced microbiome.
3. Skin – for healthy, radiant complexions
Our skin contains an abundance of collagen. As we age and those triple helix structures start to weaken, we experience sagging and develop fine lines and wrinkles.
One study has shown that the use of protein peptides may improve skin elasticity, whilst another has demonstrated that collagen, when ingested with a mixture of hyaluronic acid, vitamins and minerals, may improve the depth of wrinkles.
Type II is the most common form of collagen in our joints. Through ageing and/or wear and tear, the protective tissue around our joints (known as cartilage) starts to thin out.
This means bones become painfully close to one another, as that padding just isn’t what it used to be. The joints can become inflamed, stiff, painful, and even noisy as they crackle and pop when moving. Studies suggest that taking collagen may help relieve some of this pain.
5. Hair – for luscious locks
Here we continue to see just how diverse and far-reaching the effects of this powerful protein can have on so much of our body. Our hair follicles take the amino acids from collagen and produce keratin protein. It’s the keratin that encourages hair elasticity and strength, and so often gives it that healthy sheen.
Anecdotally, this ‘miracle molecule’ is linked to helping people manage and/or recover from broken bones, autoimmune diseases, cognitive health, sleep disorders, skin conditions and more. We’ve looked at five reasons to take collagen, but this is just the tip of the well-being iceberg.
Where can you buy collagen?
The UK owned and operated Edible Health has been producing premium hydrolysed collagen powder for over four years. The business was formed following the personal experiences and frustrations of co-founder Corinna (see more below), and as a result, it is deeply committed to helping customers achieve good health and well-being.
To that end, they produce two pure hydrolysed collagens – one sourced from cowhide (bovine) and the other from fish scales (marine). They also have a number of blends packed with additional vitamins and minerals, so there really is something for everyone.
Corinna Cope merged her previous corporate background with a personal passion for total health and wellness to co-found Edible Health. When years of dieting and supplements left her close to death, Corinna was determined to turn her life around. She introduced positive eating choices and removed all lotions, potions and pills from her world. But she stuck with collagen. Frustrated by the lack of quality product on the market, her research led to exposing a niche, and Edible Health was formed. Committed to providing only the most premium form of hydrolysed collagen from a state-of-the-art manufacturer, Edible Health is 100% pure, natural, and free from all nasties, flavourings and additives. Corinna remains a crucial member of the team, working hands-on across all areas, including customer service, where she derives enormous pleasure in helping others achieve their well-being goals. When Corinna isn’t thinking anything and everything Edible Health, she’s raising garden chickens and growing veggies whilst keeping the local foxes and deer at bay.
The information we have provided herewith, and all linked materials, are not intended nor should they be construed as medical advice. Moreover, the information herewith should not be used as a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please consult your General Practitioner for advice specific for you.