Which collagen to choose?
Collagen is a protein of natural origin, used for decades by the cosmetics industry. It is the major constituent of connective tissue in mammals, its roles are varied and essential to the structure of the body. Indeed, collagen is a real framework for the human body! Which collagen to choose?
However, existing in food supplement and in different forms, it is sometimes difficult to navigate and make a choice. In this article, you will discover the functions and usefulness of collagen in the body, but also some advice to help you choose the best supplement.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a natural substance that is very abundant in the human body. It is the most abundant protein in animals. It is found in skin, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Collagen thus provides cohesion to different tissues, it acts as a framework.
Type I collagen: skin, tendon, vascular, connective, organ, bone.
Type II collagen: cartilage.
Type III collagen: reticulate fibers.
Type IV collagen: forms the basis of the cell basement membrane.
Type V collagen: found in tissues containing type I.
Of the 5 types of collagen, type I collagen is the most abundant. This makes sense because this strain is found in the skin, the largest organ of the human body. In addition to providing strength and elasticity, collagen also helps replace dead skin cells.
A little history
Collagen and its benefits have been recognized for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it was not until the 19th century that it came to the attention of Western scientists. Therefore, it was only since 1980 that European researchers were interested in it.
What is collagen used for?
Collagen is a so-called structural protein, meaning that it participates in the arrangement of organisms. In mammals, including humans, collagen makes up nearly 35% of the body’s protein.
It fulfills various major and essential roles. It gives cohesion to tissues, giving them elasticity, resilience and flexibility.
Properties in the body
Collagen is best known for its use in cosmetic surgery and cosmetics. Its benefits are not limited to this, however, since within the body, it also intervenes in the joints, digestion and muscles.
Collagen and joints
The extracellular matrix of joint cartilage is richly organized with type II collagen fibers. This collagen is also one of the main components of joints and bones, it represents nearly 70% of the weight of cartilage. With age, the loss of collagen in the joints triggers joint discomfort.
Wear and tear on articular cartilage can affect the knees, hips, spine, neck, fingers or ankles. The first signs generally appear around the age of 40/50.
Collagen and bone density
With age, the bone then becomes more fragile and less resistant.
In bone tissue, collagen is produced by osteoblasts, it forms lamellae which give bones their strength.
Collagen and skin
Thanks to its structural functions for the body’s tissues, collagen gives the skin its elasticity and improves its appearance. However, from the age of 25, the endogenous production of collagen decreases, due to the drying out of the fibroblasts which produce it. This is why the first signs of aging, wrinkles and fine lines, can appear on the face.
Beyond this property on the skin, collagen is also beneficial to the beauty of the hair.
Collagen and the digestive tract
The intestines are made up of connective tissue, which has the role of supporting and strengthening the lining of the digestive tract. This connective tissue contains collagen. The main functions of collagen are very important here since they allow the intestine to act as a barrier preventing the passage of unwanted particles into the blood. This excess permeability is also known as hyperpermeability of the intestinal mucosa.
Muscle tissue is richly composed of collagen, itself made up of glycine. Glycine is an active amino acid in the synthesis of creatine. The latter is found at 95% in the muscles. It is frequently taken as a dietary supplement in certain sports to improve performance through muscle development.
Collagen and age
The collagen fibers in the dermis give the skin elasticity, tone and resistance. With age, these fibers become increasingly rare. This is how wrinkles, fine lines and stretch marks appear. The appearance of the skin changes, it becomes less supple.
This is a completely natural phenomenon, because when the body’s collagen decreases, the epithelial structures become more fragile. Likewise, the hair is less resistant, the tendons and ligaments are less elastic and the joints lose flexibility.
There are factors accelerating the loss of collagen, which are always good to know:
- sun exposure
- the tobacco
- polluting agents
- some toxins
- the stress
All increase the production of free radicals in the body which destroy existing collagen.
The different forms of collagen
Bovine (cow) collagen
Bovine collagen is extracted from the skin of cattle, which is then sterilized and then liquefied. It is widely used in the field of aesthetic medicine, particularly in the form of injections to increase the volume of the lips or reduce wrinkles. However, bovine collagen is absorbed by the body, its effects are only temporary; this is why the interventions mentioned above only last about three months.
There is also bovine collagen in powder form, appreciated for the quality of its specific proteins, used as a dietary supplement in sports.
Marine collagen is extracted from residues of the food industry, usually fish and shrimp. It is often used in anti-wrinkle creams.
Type II collagen, from poultry
There is also type II collagen, obtained from chicken breastbone. It is mainly used in the form of dietary supplements.
What form of collagen should you choose? Which collagen to choose?
Which collagen to choose? The current traditional diet contains less and less collagen. Indeed, we consume less fatty meats and less dishes based on bones or cartilage, naturally rich in collagen.
As a dietary supplement, collagen exists in two forms: native collagen and collagen hydrosol.
Native collagen has a complex molecular structure, its weight is high, so it cannot be directly absorbed and passed into the circulation. Only 1% of its natural form is retained by the body during its absorption. The bioavailability of native collagen is therefore of little interest.
Collagen hydrolyzate results from enzymatic hydrolysis of gelatin from collagen. The molecules are divided and are then smaller, they are collagen peptides. The absorption rate then increases to 90%. Collagen hydrolyzate is the form best assimilated by the body, and therefore the one to be preferred.
Which collagen to choose? Finally, collagen exists in the form of powder, capsules or cream. Oral intakes will have a global action on the body, creams will have a more targeted action.
Marine collagen (from the sea)
Marine collagen, extracted from fish or shrimp waste (skin, scales, bones), is more effective than bovine collagen. It is more easily absorbed by the body. In addition, its structure is closer to human collagen and remains longer in the body.
Since they are less preferred because they are reputed to be less effective, products made from bovine collagen are often less expensive.
In what formats does it exist?
On the market, marine collagen exists mainly in the form of creams, capsules and tablets. Some manufacturers offer it in liquid form. There is very little powdered marine collagen.
How to choose it?
Like any industry, the fishing industry generates a lot of waste from fish processing (skins, bones, etc.). Marine collagen, which is made from this waste, could appear as a way to reuse it, and therefore reduce waste and the amount of waste generated.
However, it is necessary to implement processes to guarantee and verify the quality of its materials. If you want to buy marine collagen, we recommend paying attention to the origin of the products (as with any food for that matter!). It is good to check the absence of GMOs and heavy metals, as well as the criterion of sustainable fishing.
When to take marine collagen?
Collagen is taken before meals. The hydrolyzate can also be taken during the meal.
Generally, its dosage is split during the day (morning and evening most often).
It is recommended to consume collagen in combination with vitamin C, which promotes its assimilation by the body. The oral intake of collagen can also be combined with other food supplements for the joints.
Are there any dangers?
According to many experts and various studies, marine collagen does not constitute a health hazard. But always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
No interaction with drug treatment is known to date. Similarly, there are no contraindications to taking collagen as a dietary supplement, no side effects have yet been listed. People with kidney failure, pregnant and lactating women should however consult their doctor before supplementing.
Collagen and diet | Foods that are sources of collagen
Healthy foods high in collagens:
Obtained from the skin and bones of animals, it is rich in protein and contains several amino acids to synthesize collagen.
It can be eaten in powder or sheet, and is used for the preparation of panna cotta or other desserts (for example).
Collagen is found in the bones and cartilage of meats, you can prepare a homemade broth with from these.
Egg yolk is particularly rich in collagen.
Fish and shellfish
As with meat, you can prepare broths or sauces from the skin and shells of seafood products.
Diet rich in collagen
As you will have noticed, there are very few foods containing collagen. Nevertheless, it is possible to turn to a diet that both promotes its production and limits its degradation.
For this, you can opt for foods rich in amino acids, vitamins A, C and E and zinc. Here are some examples below:
Royal jelly is a substance produced by bees rich in nutrients that are indirectly involved in the synthesis of collagen.
You can get it directly from a beekeeper, or in capsules, tablets or ampoules.
It is naturally rich in zinc. Zinc activates the proteins responsible for collagen synthesis.
Turkey is particularly interesting for its amino acid content, and in particular glycine, which is a key player in the synthesis of collagen.
Turkey is also a good source of zinc, which is involved in protein synthesis in general.
Sources of pro-vitamin A
- Vegetables: carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, collard greens, squash, lettuce, dandelion greens, bell pepper.
- Fruits: apricot, mango, melon
- Meat: turkey offal, beef liver,
- Fish: herring
- Algae: spirulina (12,000 IU to 25,000 IU per 5g powder)
Sources of Vitamin C
To promote the assimilation of collagen by the body, consider opting for a diet rich in vitamin C.
- Vegetables: peppers, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, tomato…
- Fruits: kiwi, citrus fruits, red fruits, exotic fruits…
Sources of vitamin E
- Vegetables: avocado, asparagus, spinach…
- Oilseeds: Brazil nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds…
- Seeds: sunflower, pine nuts…
- Oils: peanut, sunflower.
Photo credit: Pxhere