What is Collagen ?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, found in skin, muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and even teeth, blood vessels, and corneas. Collagen has many roles, from helping give your skin elasticity to providing strength in your bones. While it contains 19 different amino acids, the predominant amino acids are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. It’s also important to note collagen is not a complete protein, as it only contains eight of the nine essential amino acids.
Collagen is endogenously produced and repaired in our bodies. Science shows us that taking dietary collagen supplements does not directly translate to more collagen in your body. Digestion breaks collagen supplements down into amino acids that may be used to help collagen production, or may be used elsewhere in your body.
There are at least 16 types of collagen, but 80-90% of collagen in the body is from types I, II, and III.
- Type I is found mostly in skin, tendons, organs, vasculature, and bones
- Type II is found it cartilage
- Type III is found in reticulate, typically alongside Type 1
While all collagen dietary supplements will differ, many are a combination of Type I and Type III, although there are some Type II-specific supplements.
How is Collagen made ?
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are made by processing animal cartilage, hides, and bones. This can be from cows, pork, chicken, or other animals and may include one source (i.e. bovine hides) or multiple (hides and cartilage). They can also be sourced from marine sources, like shellfish, fish skins, or cartilage from fish or sharks.
The actual processing will vary between companies but one company (Vital Proteins) notes that their process involves soaking bovine hides in hot water to remove fat, then soaking in an alkaline or acid solution, cooking in water, and then treated with enzymes to process from gelatin to collagen peptides. Then the product is dehydrated and milled to create a powdered supplement
1. Can Improve Skin Health
Currently, there are not many known risks to taking collagen supplements.
However, some supplements are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients to prevent allergic reactions.
Some people have also reported that collagen supplements leave a lingering bad taste in the mouth.
Additionally, collagen supplements have the potential to cause digestive side effects such as feelings of fullness and heartburn.
Regardless, these supplements appear to be safe for most people.