Reversing the signs of aging is big business around the world, so whenever a supplement alleges to promote younger-looking skin, increase muscle mass, and make hair and nails grow longer and stronger, people stand up and take notice. Such is the case with collagen peptides. Taking collagen supplements in powdered form is one of the latest trends in looking younger, feeling stronger, and rebuilding elasticity in aging skin.
Although some of these claims have not been backed by a large body of scientific evidence, there have been some studies indicating that ingested collagen peptides are absorbed easily and move quickly through the bloodstream to the skin. But we’ll get into that more a bit later. First, let’s find out what collagen is and its primary function in the body.
What Is Collagen and What Does It Do?
In short, collagen is a protein. In fact, collagen is the most widely available protein in the human body, making up about 30% of all protein in the body. Collagen is made up of the specific amino acids glycine, proline, arginine, and hydroxyproline, and is a major building block for the skin, muscles, tendons, and bones. Collagen can be thought of as the protein glue that holds the body together and keeps it functioning optimally. As we age, collagen production begins to taper off, which is evident in thinning, wrinkled skin, and brittle, thinning hair.
What Are Collagen Peptides?
A collagen peptide is a broken down, hydrolyzed version of collagen that can be taken in powder form. Found exclusively in animals (mammals and fish), collagen can be sourced from the hides of cows and scales from fish. Because the collagen is already broken down, it is easily digested and circulated throughout the bloodstream to supplement existing collagen that routinely repairs skin, tendons, bones, hair, and nails.
How Do Collagen Peptides Work?
In powdered form, collagen peptides are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. They can be added to coffee, juice, a smoothie, sprinkled over yogurt, or into whatever food or drink of your choice. Over time and with consistent use, people have reported healthier and firmer looking skin, faster growing hair, and stronger fingernails. One study found that the depth of wrinkles in women was reduced, and elasticity and hydration of the skin showed measurable improvements. The same study found that 90% of the powdered collagen peptides ingested was absorbed by the body.
Interesting Information about Collagen
As with most gems of wisdom we have come to understand about the human body, health is an inside job. What we ingest has a direct effect on the body’s inside functioning and its outward appearance. When natural collagen production has slowed in the body and skin begins to lose it elasticty and youthful appearance, it has been found that a treatment that is ingested has a greater effect on repairing the skin than topically applied treatments.
The effectiveness of collagen peptides is greater when taken as a dietary supplement than when it is applied topically to the skin. Additionally, when collagen is ingested, it circulates to many other parts of the body where it is needed, such as bones and muscles. Taking vitamin C along with collagen peptides is important for collagen synthesis.
Eating too much sugar has a negative effect on collagen synthesis. Sugar actually blocks collagen’s ability to repair itself. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin production, which is one reason why smokers often have prematurely wrinkled skin.
It is important to note that collagen is not a vegan food source. Collagen is sourced from animals, particularly cow hide and fish scales. There are peptides made exclusively from fish scales, which does qualify it as a meat-free vegetarian compound. Although it is conceivable possible to synthesize vegan collagen supplements in the lab, science is a long way off from accomplishing that.
In the battle against aging, some basic advice is the time-honored statement, “You are what you eat.” As stated previously, health is an inside job. Taking good care of the diet and adding beneficial supplements, like collagen peptides, may aid in maintaining a youthful appearance.
When looking into collagen peptide supplements, be sure to read the labels carefully and look for transparency around where the animals are sourced and which amino acids are included in the collagen powder.