Collagen – The Hope of Youth in a collagen supplement
- What is Collagen?
- Why Collagen Supplements?
- Benefits of Collagen
- Buying Collagen
- Any Side Effects of Collagen?
Collagen – the Hope of Youth in a Supplement
The fountain of youth is a myth. But the hope of eternal youth, or at least the desire to stave off the effects of ageing, is real. That is why any and every chance to look and feel young again is pounced at.
So, imagine when a supplement promises to give you supple skin; strong bones and joints; and improve muscle mass. This makes the excitement surrounding collagen supplements perfectly understandable. In Singapore, collagen supplements rank among the more popular dietary supplements especially among women.
What is Collagen
Collagen is a protein found naturally and abundantly – it makes up 25% of our total body mass - in our bones, muscles, skin and tendons. It is what holds our body together, forming a scaffold that gives our body strength and structure; and what protects our organs.
The problem is that collagen production declines with age. From 20 onwards, collagen production slows down by 1% every year. Exposure to UV light as well as smoking also contributes to the decline.
With less collagen, skin dries up and wrinkles, joints become less resilient and muscles lose their mass. For women, collagen production suffers another blow after menopause. By 60, most have to expect a considerable drop in collagen production.
Why Collagen Supplements
The good news is that you can do something about it and the solution is as easy as simply changing your diet. Your body makes collagen by combining amino acids from protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy products. The process requires vitamin C, zinc and copper. As you age, your body is less able to absorb nutrients or synthesise them. To help, you can eat a nutrient-rich diet that also includes vitamin C, zinc and copper.
If upping your food intake is not something you want to consider, the other way is to take collagen supplements. These supplements supply your body with the amino acids they need to produce collagen.
There are different types of collagen but only some are important for supplementation. Type 1 is found everywhere except in cartilage. Type 2 is found mainly in cartilage. Type 3 collagen is found with Type 1 and makes up the structure of artery walls and hollow organs. Type 4 collagen is found in cell membranes while Types 5 and 11 are found in small amounts in tissues along with Types 1 and 2.
The jury is still out there as to the efficacy of collagen supplements. Some experts maintain that ingested collagen is unlikely to move into particular areas to help trouble spots like wrinkles around the eyes, for example.
Meanwhile, several small studies offer a glimmer of hope. In a 2014 study of 69 women aged 35 to 55, those who took 2.5 or 5 grams of collagen every day for eight weeks showed a lot of improvement in skin elasticity compared to those who did not. A study published in Clinical Intervention in Aging found that taking collagen supplements for three months increased collagen density in the crow’s feet area by 19%. In another study of 89 long-term care residents with pressure ulcers, those who took collagen supplements three times a day for eight weeks reported healing from their wounds twice as quickly.
Benefits of Collagen
There is some evidence that collagen supplements are good for the skin. In a study in the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals , several women drank a mixture containing various vitamins, minerals, hydrolysed collagen, and hyaluronic acid. Compared to the control group who did not, these women saw a marked reduction in the depth of their wrinkles, and improvement in skin hydration and elasticity. The collagen supplements apparently worked by stimulating the body to produce its own collagen as well as promoting the production of other proteins needed for the structure of skin.
Collagen supplements have been found to restore or prevent the deterioration of cartilage in the joints, improving joint health and potentially restoring bone density. In addition, the supplements seem to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and decrease joint pain as well.
One study of 73 athletes who consumed 10 grams of collagen every day for 24 weeks found that they experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest compared to a group that did not take the supplements. One research even found that collagen supplements improved flexibility as well as helped new bone formation. The theory is the collagen supplements accumulate in cartilage and stimulates tissues to make collagen.
Bones are mostly made of collagen. When collagen production decreases with age, it affects bone mass. That may lead to osteoporosis which makes bones brittle, increasing the risk of bone fractures.
Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help. In one study, women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for a year saw an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density compared to women who did not.
A few studies also show that collagen supplements can help alleviate arthritis pain because they reduced inflammation.
Collagen supplements may help improve muscle mass. Participants of a study who took 15 grams of collagen a day for 12 weeks showed a marked increase in muscle mass and strength compared to those who took a placebo. The theory is that collagen stimulates the production of the proteins responsible for muscle growth.
Collagen provides the structure to arteries and blood vessels. When there is less collagen, these may become weak, leading to atherosclerosis or the narrowing of arteries which could lead to heart attacks or strokes.
In a small study, healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months. At the end of the experiment, they experienced a significant reduction in artery stiffness compared to before taking the supplement. They also reported an increase in the level of good HDL cholesterol by an average of 6%.
7. Other Health Benefits
Because collagen provides the structure for most things in our body, there is the possibility that collagen supplements may have other health benefits although not enough studies have been done to verify them. Strengthening hair and nails, and promoting their growth; improving mood and reducing anxiety; and increasing metabolism and helping weight loss are some of the possible.
There are some things to consider when shopping for collagen supplements. Ensure your supplement comes from a reliable company that clearly lists their ingredients. It is important to buy collagen supplements that do not include filler ingredients or artificial colours, flavours or preservatives is important because these might interfere with the effectiveness of the collagen. The bio-availability, or percentage of the substance that is absorbed into the body, of the supplement is also an important factor.
Collagen supplements can come in many forms – pills, powder, liquids, jellies and gummies. Each has its pros and cons. Pills are the easiest form to take. However, each pill contains so little collagen that you would need to take quite a few at a time. Jellies and gummies are easy to eat as well but, like the pills, require a few to chalk up enough collagen to be effective.
Some believe the most effective way to deliver the goodness of edible collagen to the body is through hydrolysed collagen. Hydrolysing breaks the collagen down into a smooth, light powder or peptides, making it easier to be digested, absorbed and distributed throughout the body. In powder form, the supplement is also more versatile. It can be stirred into any food or drinks, making it easier to consume.
Advocates of collagen drinks are particularly adamant. They say that nutrients in liquid form are easier to absorb. On the minus side, liquid collagen supplements tend to cost more.
Here are some recommended brands of collagen supplements:
- Youtheory Collagen Advanced Formula is one of the highest rated collagen supplements. It is a blend of types 1 to 3 collagen that is sourced from chickens and cows, and fortified with vitamin C.
- From one of the largest skincare brands in the world comes Laneige Youth Collagen Drink which contains 5,000mg of collagen peptides from tilapia which is said to be more easily and quickly absorbed because of the lower molecular weight. Every drink has vitamin C and GABA, which helps sleep; and is free of artificial colouring.
- Kinohimitsu Collagen Diamond Drink is probably the most popular collagen drink in Singapore based on the number of orders and good reviews. Each bottle has 5,300mg of 100% natural collagen with no added chemicals.
- DHC Collagen Supplements comes from one of Japan’s most trusted skincare companies which also manufactures their own range of health and beauty supplements. This collagen tablet contains fish-based collagen peptides, and vitamins B1 and B2.
- New Moon Inner Radiance Collagen Drink is made in Japan and each bottle contains 130,000mg of collagen, more than twice what most brands offer.
- Coming close is ORBIS Collagen 12,000. As the name suggests, each bottle contains 12,000mg of collagen. Acai extracts, vitamin C, ceramides and hyaluronic acid are included as well.
- Brands Innershine Collagen 5000 Powder is cherry-flavoured and includes vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
- Neocell Super Collagen+C Type includes Types 1 and 3 collagen and is fortified with vitamin C and free of gluten, wheat, yeast, starch, soy, lactose or artificial flavours.
- AVALON Stemcell Beauty Drink is Singapore’s first collagen drink that contains stem cells of young orchid.
- Nature’s Way Beauty Collagen Gummies have the advantage of being berry flavoured and sugar free.
- Koplina Collagen Jellies with Hyaluronic Acid comes from a company that made its debut in Japan in 2010 and became so popular that it expanded into Southeast Asia.
Any Side Effects of Collagen?
Collagen supplements have no known negative effects and are generally considered safe although some people reported suffering heartburn, diarrhea and constipation. Those with allergies might have a reaction to marine-based collagen or those that contain eggs. In rare cases, collagen supplements elevate calcium levels in the body causing nausea, vomiting, constipation or discomfort in the bones. As with most supplements, collagen supplements are generally safe and best taken with a healthy, balanced diet.