We as humans make our own collagen naturally by utilizing amino acids. Those amino acids (aka peptides) are the smaller particles that come from protein we eat. We then string together all kinds of proteins that we need for our bodies.
One of these proteins is collagen and we make it from 4 different amino acids as follows:
Glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and alanine.
Topical collagen peptides, like those sold in face creams, wound healing ointments and facial serums have a lot of clinical research to support their use in the dermal layer. Orally bioavailable collagen is not sold as a dietary supplement, although many people think it is. In other words, if you’re buying a “collagen supplement,” what you’re really taking are the 4 peptides that your body uses to string collagen together. Collagen itself – as one neat molecule- will not survive through the stomach acid after you take it, so therefore it is not sold as a dietary supplement. You can boost collagen production in the body by taking dietary supplements of collagen peptides, as well as vitamin C which is required as a cofactor to drive the reaction. There are patented, proprietary forms of collagen peptides that are clinically studied for benefits in the skin, and those can (and should) be taken orally. So study and become well informed if you decide to supplement with collagen. They are not all created equal. Some types of collagen are derived from cow hide, and some from fish scales and there are other sources too. Some types of collagen work for joints, some work for wrinkles.
If you have brittle nails, thinning hair, fine lines, a loss of muscle mass, joint, tendon or ligament problems or even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it’s likely that you’re low in collagen, and probably several different types of collagen, but it’s hard to say. It’s not a given. Those issues could also be caused by a food allergens, various diseases, a deficiency in B vitamins or thyroid hormone, estrogen, testosterone or DHEA. That last one about IBS throws everyone off. I know, it’s hard to believe but it’s true. Collagen deficiency may be the result of damage to the intestinal lining due to excessive permeability, but it could also cause IBS because as you recall, to make the collagen protein, you have to extract those peptides from the protein you eat at each meal. You also need to extract minerals, vitamin C and other cofactors that drive these metabolic reactions in the body. A healthy body starts with a healthy gut.
If you can’t absorb well due to a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) you will become deficient in the very peptides that you need to make collagen, which is useful to heal stomach ulcers, repair the lining and aid stomach acid secretion. Most people don’t realize that collagen is needed to prevent excessive gastric acid secretion which leads to also acid reflux, heartburn, stomach ulcers and pain. A collagen deficiency could perhaps cause, or contribute to this problem and it would never be discovered during an endoscopy.
Most women who take collagen are taking it for its beauty aspects. Keep in mind that there are only a few specific types of very tiny peptides that are recognized by your fibroblast cells in the dermal layer of your skin. If, and only if recognized, are your cells capable of being provoked to increase their own collagen metabolism.
There are 5 different types of collagen, named Type I, II, III, IV and V.
Type I and III are useful in terms of beautifying your skin, hair and nails.
You see over 90% of your collagen (made by you) is Type I and III. Type II collagen is actually for your bones and joints; it’s what supports helps with joint aches and pains and this type of collagen doesn’t work for beauty needs. You will often find this in dietary supplements geared at flexibility and joint health.
The cells are simply seeking to make collagen from these tiny peptides and offset what you’ve lost through aging, UV damage and other negative environmental influences. If you’re taking the correct, clinically-useful form of collagen (or applying it), you will notice that your skin cells produce more collagen. This will be evidenced by a reduction in fine lines, a more hydrated, plump look to your skin, stronger nails, perhaps faster growing and softer hair… plus more compliments from your friends.
If you make a lot of collagen, like a 20, or 30 year old person does, you can see that in the youthful look of skin, hair and nails. Kids have delicious chubby cheeks because they have a ton of collagen! As you age, the reduction of collagen shows up in these particular areas of the body.
No matter what your age is, you always want to look your absolute best, and I believe in collagen peptides. I only suggest that you research the vast array of products on the market today, and choose one that is right for you. Remember, if you’re going for beauty, the type of collagen matters. You want Type I and III collagen. If you’re going for joint support, Type II is what you’ll want to get.
Theoretically, if you could take off your skin and dry it out, more than 80 percent of its weight would be from pure collagen! That’s how critical collagen is to your skin. You also need this natural protein for healthy bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.* And then there’s your blood brain barrier, which requires collagen to protect your brain from systemic toxins.*
The following can be said about collagen:
Collagen supports joint flexibility*
Collagen supports the structure of the dermis (the thick layer of living tissue just under the skin)*
Collagen improves the elasticity and appearance of the skin*
It can decrease the discomfort associated with joint deterioration*
It can reduce signs of aging*
It can reduce the appearance of cellulite*
Here are some other of its impressive benefits of various types of collagen:
Faster nail growth*
Less fingernail chipping*
It will promote the elasticity of your skin*
Enhance your body’s own production of healthy collagen*
It will improve elastin production*
It helps improve skin tone*
It helps decrease the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines*
It helps reduce eye wrinkles*
It will promote the appearance of smoother skin*
It will increase skin density*
Making sufficient amounts of collagen (or being young!) will significantly increase your skin’s moisture, resulting in noticeably firmer and smoother skin.* In addition, the oral intake of collagen peptides supports healthy joints, flexibility, and cartilage.*
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.