Amazing. Collagen in all it’s biochemical glory. Twisted and turned into an orderly hot-wanded strand of nature. Like protein with a perm and a purpose.
And the accolades of collagen are far reaching. You’ll find it in skincare creams, in supplements, and sometimes inside syringes.
But why has collagen become so popular… and are it’s health boosting sales over or just starting?
So, to the basics.
Collagen comes mostly from animal source, from the gelatinous protein material of cows, pigs or fish. In the early days, bovine forms found their way onto the market, but these days there is much more choice. All forms harness the collagen that’s found in animal tissue. But it shouldn’t stop there.
What you need are collagen peptides, which is collagen in it’s hydrolysed form. These are smaller is size than ‘native’ collagen and are produced by the action of enzymes on larger collagen molecules. Manufacturing processes aim to make the collagen molecules small enough for absorption and it seems that size does matter.
After all, it needs to get where it’s going, right?
So where, exactly, is that? Collagen is a major component of the human body making up about 30 percent of the proteins in our bodies. It’s involved in joint mobility, bone stability, muscle structure, ligament and tendon strength. Of course, it also helps to create smooth skin, glossy hair and healthy nails. Connective tissue between the vertebrae, in our blood vessels, our cornea, dentin in the teeth and in our intestinal wall, all rely on adequate collagen formation to function properly.
Collagen, in supplementary form, aims to increase the amount of collagen (and amino acids) required as the building blocks for these key body structures and also aims to stimulate cell production.
Let’s look closer. Collagen makes up various percentages of key body structures:
- Skin: 75%
- Tendons: 85%
- Bones: 90% organic mass
- Cartilage and ligaments: 70%
Can you get enough in your diet? Theoretically, yes. But ageing, sport and injury can increase requirements. Supplementation could be useful in all of these scenarios.
Research trials have also shown that, for skin health, those taking collagen formulations had an improved visual appearance of fine lines and wrinkles — an effect which was maintained for up to 3 months after supplementation stopped.
So, at some point will collagen become a commodity health product like fish oil, or glucosamine? For bone health, it certainly should be. There’s a good backing from scientific research to suggest so.
Within the beauty sector, there’s also some great research, though costs can be high. Beauty comes at a price, it seems.
However, one thing is clear…. collagen is a well-researched substance from nature that has a clear purpose. It’s wonderful wave-like structure could be the key to strong and supple joints, and smooth glowing skin in those who choose to take it. And that’s well worth a try.