Collagen is everywhere: the internet is flooded with it, influencers are raving about it, and health and wellness shops sell it in various formats. But what is collagen exactly, and is it really the secret to a youthful life?
Even though many people associate collagen with radiant skin, collagen is not limited to a youthful appearance. Collagen is a hard, insoluble, fibrous protein covering one-third of the human body. As the most prevalent protein in the body, collagen makes up the structure of your skin, muscles, bones, cartilage, ligaments, connective tissues, and tendons.
There are approximately 28 types of collagen proteins in the body, of which types I, II and III are the most common. Each collagen type plays a different role in the body. Type I is known to build skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons; type II helps make cartilage—the flexible tissue between bones; and type III helps create muscles and blood vessels. Type I collagen improves skin elasticity and hydration, Type II collagen supports joint health, and Type III collagen works alongside Type I collagen to promote skin health.
Your body produces its own collagen supply through fibroblasts—a type of cell that helps the body to produce collagen and elastin. As you age, your body loses about one percent of its collagen production per year. As a result, many people opt for collagen supplements. Adding collagen to your diet has many advantages, including:
When consuming hydrolysed collagen, the collagen peptides move through the gut lining and body, ultimately providing cells with amino acids. These amino acids encourage the body to produce collagen and other molecules that naturally make up the skin. The peptides can stimulate the skin to produce more collagen.
The word ‘collagen’ comes from the Greek word kola, which directly translates to glue, and as collagen is known as the glue that keeps the body together, it helps protect joints. Collagen is rich in the amino acids known as glycine and proline, which are needed to maintain and repair joints, bones, and tendons. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, collagen hydrolysate can reduce joint pain and specific symptoms of osteoarthritis. In the study, 73 athletes were given collagen hydrolysate supplements, while 74 athletes were given placebo. The results indicated that the athletes who received collagen experienced less joint pain while walking and resting.
Collagen contains the amino acids arginine and glycine, which are building blocks for creatine. The study, International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise, evaluated the effects that collagen supplements have on older men. The study found that men who combined exercise with a post-workout collagen supplement built more muscle mass than those who exercised and received a placebo.
When purchasing collagen supplements, keywords to look out for are collagen peptides, hydrolysed collagen, or collagen hydrolysate. Why are these words important? Hydrolysed collagen means that the collagen has been broken down into small peptides, making it easier for the body to digest. Collagen peptides are soluble supplements from marine or bovine (cows) protein and are full of reparative amino acids. These peptides are rich in types I and II collagen, which are beneficial to skin, joint and bone health. Collagen peptides are usually derived from pure collagen.
The type of collagen also plays an important role, of which type I is the most popular. Thanks to type I collagen being the most abundant type of collagen in the body, it is usually considered the best for the skin.
Something else to consider is its origin—does the collagen come from grass-fed animals or wild-caught fish?
USN’s 100% Pure Collagen Powder is grass-fed type I hydrolysed collagen peptides. This collagen powder is rich in amino acids, promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. It can also help with joint mobility by strengthening, protecting, and repairing joints.