What Everyone Should Know About Collagen Peptides

Promoted as a beauty and anti-aging treatment, collagen peptides are available in capsule, powder, and liquid forms. Many companies now add them to foods such as cereal and granola bars, and some skincare products use them as an ingredient too. They are considered a nutritional supplement, and some studies suggest the peptides could help patients looking to lose weight, reduce joint pain, and improve the strength of their bones. Globally, the market for collagen peptides is experiencing a dramatic increase, and the supplements are surging in popularity. Individuals who are hoping to add collagen peptides to their healthy lifestyle and skincare routine should always check with a physician first, especially if they have any underlying health conditions.

The basic facts, benefits, and potential side effects of collagen peptides are outlined below.

What Is Collagen?

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Collagen is a structural protein found in the connective tissues throughout the body. As the most abundant protein in the entire body, collagen accounts for between twenty-five to thirty-five percent of the body's total protein composition. It is a primary building block for skin, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones, and it is also located in the blood vessels, teeth, and corneas. Scientists have currently identified at least sixteen forms of collagen. Collagen type I comprises ninety percent of the collagen within the body, and it is formed of dense fibers, providing structure and support for connective tissues, fibrous cartilage, skin, bones, and teeth. The second form of collagen is made of slightly looser fibers located in elastic cartilage and helps cushion joints. Collagen is manufactured in the body by combining proline and glycine (types of amino acids) to create procollagen. Vitamin C plays a major role in procollagen formation. As individuals go through the aging process, the body naturally starts to produce less collagen, and the collagen it does produce is of lower quality.

Learn about when the body starts losing collagen next.

When The Body Starts Losing Collagen

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Collagen loss typically begins around twenty-five years old, and it becomes more pronounced as individuals reach their mid-thirties and beyond. Collagen provides internal support for the skin, and patients often notice fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin as collagen is depleted. The skin loses firmness and elasticity as well. Enzymes naturally produced within the body are responsible for the breakdown of collagen, and sun exposure, pollution, smoking, and free radicals trigger a gradual loss of collagen too. While it is not possible to stop collagen loss entirely, doctors recommend following a healthy diet, avoiding sun exposure and smoking, and moisturizing the skin regularly to minimize the effects of this loss. Vitamin C has been shown to increase the stability of collagen molecules, and patients may want to consider using skincare products that contain this vitamin. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, kale, kiwis, and broccoli, and Brussels sprouts is advisable.

Get familiar with the major types of collagen next.

Different Types Of Collagen

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Scientists have currently identified over twenty-seven different types of collagen, and the first four are recognized as the most important. All types of collagen help prevent the body's tissues from stretching and sagging, and collagen comprises an estimated twenty-five percent of the total protein within the body. In addition to supporting the skin, it provides strength and structural support for tendons, bones, teeth, and internal organs. Type I collagen is the strongest form, and it helps in the formation of skin, tendons, blood vessel walls, and connective tissues. Type II collagen is a major component of cartilage, the connective tissue that protects joints, and it is also part of the structure of the ear, nose, bronchial tubes, and rib cage. Type III collagen is known as fibrillar collagen, and it is a key component of the skin and the body's major organs. It supports the functional integrity of the cardiac muscle. Other important types of collagen include type V and type X. Type V collagen assists the body in the formation of both cell surfaces and hair, and it is particularly important in the formation of the placenta during pregnancy. Also known as network-forming collagen, type X collagen exists mostly in cartilage, and it is recognized as a reliable marker for new bone growth in the cartilage that cushions joints.

Read about what collagen peptides are next.

What Are Collagen Peptides?

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Collagen peptides are a form of collagen that can be easily digested. Also known as collagen hydrolysate and hydrolyzed collagen, these peptides are made through a process called enzymatic hydrolysis. Hydrolysis breaks molecular bonds between collagen and peptides, and the resulting collagen peptides are smaller and lighter than regular collagen. They have a molecular weight of less than five thousand Dalton (5,000 Da), and they are cold soluble, which means they dissolve in cold water. Even if they are exposed to high heat levels, they are very stable and will not become a gel. Although collagen peptides contain a minimum of two amino acids, some formulations could include up to one hundred different amino acids. Collagen peptides are normally taken as dietary supplements, and they are also included in a variety of functional foods.

Get familiar with the differences between collagen and collagen peptides now.

Differences Between Collagen And Collagen Peptides

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One of the key differences between collagen and collagen peptides relates to solubility. The collagen manufactured inside the body (native collagen) is completely insoluble, meaning it does not dissolve at all. By contrast, collagen peptides have a high solubility, and they will easily dissolve in cold water. Since the collagen within the body is insoluble, it is not able to be digested at all. Collagen peptides are easily digestible. Native collagen is primarily found in medical items and collagen casings; it is not something individuals can take to improve their nutrition. Collagen peptides are considered nutritional supplements, and many individuals take them daily, especially for anti-aging purposes.

Uncover the health benefits and claims of collagen peptides next.

Health Benefits And Claims Of Collagen Peptides

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Scientists are continuing to research the health benefits and claims of collagen peptides. Currently, collagen peptides are widely recognized for their role in skin improvement. A 2014 study of sixty-nine female subjects between thirty-five and fifty-five years old looked at the anti-aging benefits of collagen peptides versus a placebo. After a study period of four weeks, the results indicated skin elasticity improved in the group taking the collagen peptides. Additional research suggests collagen peptides can reduce wrinkles when used over a span of eight weeks.

Supplementation with collagen peptides has also been linked to better symptom management and reduced joint pain in arthritis patients. In a 2009 study, participants took a supplement that contained type II collagen for ninety days. The subjects showed a forty percent decrease in arthritis symptoms, and symptoms that did occur were reduced in severity by thirty-three percent. An older study from the 1990s found type II collagen supplements reduced the number of swollen, painful joints experienced by subjects with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Out of sixty subjects, four patients experienced a complete remission of their arthritis. In addition to these benefits, collagen peptides could help in building muscle and burning fat. Within the body, collagen itself is a core component of muscles themselves. A 2015 study of fifty-three male patients with sarcopenia (a loss of muscle mass caused by aging) found taking collagen supplements in conjunction with participation in a strength training class led to a significant increase in both muscle strength and fat loss compared to a placebo group. These benefits were seen after twelve weeks of use.

Discover the side effects of collagen peptides next.

Side Effects Of Collagen Peptides

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Despite their many recognized benefits, researchers have noted some side effects of collagen peptides. While many patients tolerate collagen peptides well and experience no adverse effects, some individuals notice skin rashes or mild gastrointestinal symptoms. Heartburn has been reported, and a sensation of heaviness can occur after use. Although rare, abnormal changes in liver function have developed for certain patients as well.

Patients should check with a physician before choosing to take any form of collagen or collagen peptides, and this is especially important if the patient has an underlying medical condition. In particular, patients with kidney disease and individuals receiving dialysis should avoid using bone broth as a collagen supplement; it contains particularly high levels of sodium and potassium, which can be harmful to these patients. Individuals who have noticed any worrying changes in their health after starting a collagen peptide supplement should see a doctor for an evaluation. To reduce the potential for side effects, patients should never exceed recommended supplement doses.

Learn about the side effects associated with collagen type II next.

Side Effects Of Collagen Type II

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Patients may be prescribed collagen peptide type II for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and sports injuries. Potential side effects of collagen type II include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and drowsiness. Some patients have experienced headaches and allergic skin reactions as well. Patients should not take collagen type II while pregnant or breastfeeding, and individuals who use it while taking hormone replacement therapy are at an increased risk of side effects. Patients who have a history of liver disease should mention this to their doctor, as liver issues can increase the risk of experiencing side effects from collagen type II, and doctors will need to closely monitor patients with this condition during their treatment with collagen. The dosage may need to be adjusted, and some patients might be offered an alternative medication instead.

Emily Fowler