What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by the body. It is found in the muscles, bones and the skin.
Collagen plays an important role in connective tissues. This means collagen is important for both joint flexibility but also for skin elasticity. A lack of collagen can lead to both joint pain or it can increase the ageing effect on the skin (e.g. by causing wrinkles to appear or deepen).
What types of Collagen Supplements are available?
Collagen supplements tend to come in three forms:
Marine Collagen: This collagen usually comes from the skin of fish. There is some research to suggest marine based collagen is more effective than Beef (Bovine) Collagen for the skin but less effective for the joints.
Beef Collagen: Beef Collagen (from bovine) is made from the skin, cartilage and tissue of a cow.
Plant Collagen: Typically this is made by genetically engineering yeast or bacteria to produce vegan collagen.
What does Collagen do?
Providing your body with collagen allows the connective tissues in your body to abosorb it and as a result because more elastic.
For joints this is useful because it means that the joints are more capabale of movement and thus it can help to ease discomfort associated with joint pain.
For the skin improving the elasticity of skin means it appears more supple and soft. As skin loses its elasticity and hydration this tends to bring on the signs of ageing (such as wrinkles, fine lines and sagging).
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All you need to know about Collagen
How much collagen should I take per day?
Research has shown that humans can safely consume anything between 1 and 15 grams per day.
Research has also shown that a dose of at least 5000mg (5g) is needed daily to have an impact when supplementing with collagen.
What is the difference between type 1, type 2 and type 3 collagen?
Type 1 collagen is the most common. It is found in skin, bone, teeth, ligaments and the organs. Type 2 collagen is generally found only in cartilage. There is also type 3 collagen which is typically found in skin, muscles and blood vessels. It is very rare to see Type 3 collagen in a supplement form but many supplements either provide Type 1 only or a combination of Type 1 and Type 2.
Should I take a collagen powder or tablet?
Generally it is recommended to take collagen powder for a number of reasons.
Firstly it is often not possible to get a large enough dose of collagen into a capsule or tablet. Often capsules and tablets can contain as little as 500mg of collagen but this is not an effective dose unless you are taking a large number of tablets each day. Taking a large number can then become very ineffective from a cost perspective.
The other benefit of taking a powdered collagen is that it can be easily mixed into both hot and cold drinks without damaging it’s properties and many brands then also add in other beneficial ingredients like Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid. Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid both also play an important role in achieving younger looking skin or slowing the ageing process but also in improving joint mobility and flexibility. As a result a powdered collagen, especially one combined with other beneficial ingredients is likely to provide effective results that you can feel or see.
How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?
Typically studies have found that, whether you are using collagen to improve your skin or your joints, you tend to start to see results after around eight weeks.
Skin tends to show an improvement more quickly than joint flexibility so in some cases where you are taking collagen to help with joint pain (especially for arthritis) you may find that you need to take collagen consistently for at least three months to notice a difference.
What is hydrolysed collagen?
Hydrolysed collagen is a broken down form of collagen. This involves a process called hydrolysis which involved using water to break down the collagen into smaller molecules.
The reason many supplements feature hydrolysed collagen is because this makes it much more absorbable in the body. Well absorbed supplements tend to yield better results. In addition, hydrolysed collagen tends to have little to no taste and it also dissolves in liquid easily. This means that collagen powders are easy to take and don’t taste bad.
Can I obtain collagen naturally through food?
Yes. Eating foods like fish (with the skin), poultry, beef and even eggs and dairy all provide collagen. The issue with trying to obtain collagen only through foods is that you tend to get the complex version of collagen instead of the hydrolysed version that goes into supplements. This means that your body needs to break down the collagen into a form it can make use of; this process is inefficient and so you don’t tend to absorb enough collagen to make a huge difference when trying to get your intake solely from food.
Is it safe to take collagen?
Yes there are plenty of studies which show that taking up to 15g (15000mg) of collagen is safe.
When should I stop taking collagen?
In a small number of cases people experience itchiness, swelling or difficulty breathing after taking collagen. If you experience this then it’s important to immediately stop taking the supplement and it is also recommended that you should visit a doctor.