Most of us know collagen as a topical agent in skin creams and serums. It improves the quality and appearance of our skin. But collagen peptides, taken as a daily supplement, can enhance not only skin, hair, and nails, but also improve exercise recovery, fortify the gut lining, improve detoxification, and strengthen tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and lends structural integrity to the skin, the bones, tendons, ligaments, hair and nails. Dietary sources of collagen include bone marrow, organ meats, and the bones of small fish. Modern diets tend to lack a source of this important nutrient. We also tend to lose collagen in the body as we age. Collagen is naturally high in glycine, proline, hydroxylproline, arginine, and glutamic acid, all of which relate to it beneficial properties. The peptides are hydrolyzed collagen fragments. Contrary to what you may have heard, they can be taken up in the gut intact1, and hence reach tissues where they are needed. Here are the top reasons to include these peptides in your supplement routine:
To Boost the Health and Appearance of Your Skin.
The skin has two layers, the epidermis, or outermost layer, and the dermis, the supporting layer underneath. The dermis provides structure, supplies blood to the epidermis, and delivers nutrients that help to rebuild and repair the skin. Stress, aging, sun exposure, alcohol, and lack of sleep all affect the integrity of the dermis. Studies have shown that collagen peptides can reach the skin and have a stimulatory effect on dermal metabolism.1 One study of a specific collagen peptide showed a noticeable reduction in skin dryness, wrinkles, and skin-fold depth, as well as an increase in skin density and firmness in 60 days. Adding hyaluronic acid to it can also improve hydration of the skin, increase elasticity, and reduce wrinkles.2
To Strengthen Your Bones, Joints, Tendons, and Ligaments.
A 24-week trial found that collagen peptides can potentially protect against joint degradation in athletes and improve measures of pain.3 Another study of older males with sarcopenia found significant improvement in fat free mas, fat mass, and sensory motor control over 12 weeks when collagen supplementation was combined with resistance training.4 Collagen peptides are naturally high in the amino acids glycine and arginine, which are good substrates for creatine. Creatine is important for energy recycling in the muscle. Studies are mixed on the benefit of collagen for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but it is considered moderately effective for both.6 Anecdotally, I think collagen is amazing for healing from injury, strengthening all of the connective tissues, and to boosting tissue recovery in athletes.
To Heal the Gut.
The structural integrity of the gut is crucial to its proper function. The mucous membranes and underlying structure in the gut are the body’s first line of defense and support nutrient absorption. Just like our outer skin, our inner skin depends on collagen as a major structural protein. Degradation of the gut barrier is implicated in IBD, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, and many other inflammatory diseases. Collagen supports the structure of the gut and thus is important to its overall function. One study found that it may attenuate TNF-alpha induced barrier function in the gut, which is implicated in IBD.5
To Improve Sleep.
Collagen peptides are naturally high in glycine, which acts as a calming neurotransmitter. Glycine is also high in the cerebrospinal fluid, showing its importance to the nervous system. Due to its calming affects, it can improve anxiety and sleeplessness.
To Promote Detoxification.
Glycine is also a part of the body’s Phase II detoxification system. It binds to certain toxicants and makes them water-soluble so that they can be excreted. It is one of three amino acids that compose glutathione, one of our body’s main detoxifying agents.
Collagen peptides are sourced from beef, pork, chicken or fish bones. You want to make sure that you choose a well-sourced brand using grass-fed, organic, or in the case of fish, wild-caught sources Collagen is well-tolerated and has no major side effects.6 We love the Vital Proteins bran. In my opinion, this one’s a no-brainer for anyone who wants to improve skin or gut health, athletes, and anyone who has suffered an injury.
- Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, Proksch E. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015;18(12):1340-1348. doi:10.1089/jmf.2015.0022.
- Borumand M, Sibilla S. Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen®reduces visible signs of aging. Clin Interven Aging. 2014;9:1747-1758. doi:10.2147/CIA.S65939.
- Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008; 24(5): 1485-1496. doi: 10.1185/030079908X291967
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114(8):1237-1245. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002810.
- Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Ahao X, Blumberg JB, et al. Collagen pepteides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatroy Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017; 8(3): 1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c.
- Arthritis Research UK. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/collagen.aspx