When a person goes looking for information on “collagen” supplements, they often come out more confused than they went in. There are seemingly dozens of different varieties. There’s gelatin. There’s animal collagen. There’s marine collagen. Hydrolysate and peptides. And then there are all the “types” of collagen: type I, type II, type III, type IV, type V, and on down the line, each with unique properties and applications. Everyone seems to say something different.
What are you supposed to believe? How does a person make sense of it all? What are differences between them?
Let’s do that right now.
Gelatin is heat-treated collagenous animal tissue. Whether you’re a food manufacturer turning raw skin and bones into powdered gelatin for use in jello or a home cook slowly simmering beef knuckles in a pot on the stove to make rich bone broth that gelatinizes when cold, you are using heat to convert collagenous tissue into gelatin.
Gelatin is partially soluble in water. While its chemical structure prevents it from dissolving in cold or room temperature water, it does dissolve in hot water.
The health benefits of gelatin are equal to collagen. They have the same amino acid profile — lots of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, alanine, lysine, and others. Inside the body, they’re all broken down into those same amino acids and utilized.
Gelatin is fantastic to have in the kitchen. While you can’t just mix it into cold drinks or throw it in a smoothie like you can collagen hydrolysate, you can use it to thicken pan sauces, enrich store bought stock and broth, and make healthy jello treats or luxurious gelatinous desserts.
Whenever I make a curry with coconut milk, as one of the final steps I whisk in a tablespoon or two of gelatin to thicken it up and give the curry that syrupy mouth feel. This is a game-changer, folks. Try it and you’ll see. This is also works in spaghetti sauce, soup, pretty much anything that includes liquid. Frying up a burger? Add some water to the pan, scrape up the fond (brown bits attached to the pan that are full of flavor), whisk in some gelatin, and reduce until it’s a thick sauce.
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Collagen Hydrolysate and Peptides
Collagen hydrolysate and peptides both mix readily into hot and cold liquids, and they give your body what it needs to assemble its own collagen. Hydrolysis is the process, peptides are the end product. Collagen hydrolysate refers to the process of using enzymes to break the peptide bonds to produce collagen peptides.
All collagen you see is animal collagen because there is no collagen that comes from non-animal sources. Plants do not contain collagen. I’m sure some startup is hard at work on producing lab-grown collagen, which ironically might be far less problematic than lab-grown steaks, but it isn’t available for purchase yet. It’s all animals.
What most people mean by “animal collagen” is land animal collagen—by far the most common type. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the collagen you encounter on the market comes from land animals like cows and pigs.
Animal collagen is the most evolutionarily congruent type on the planet. Because for as long as we’ve been eating animals (well over a million years), we’ve been stripping them of their collagenous tissue for consumption. Even when the collagen wasn’t visible but rather entombed in weight-bearing bones, we would smash those bones with stones and boil them in ruminant stomachs to extract every last drop of fat and collagen.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486571/‘>2 But I wonder of its relevance.
One pro-marine collagen paper that makes a strong case for the use of marine collagen in wound repair, oral supplementation, and other medical applications does not mention increased bioavailability. It may be slightly more bioavailable—the lower the molecular weight, the more true that is—but I don’t think the effect is very meaningful. We know mammalian collagen is plenty bioavailable because most studies use collagen from cows or pigs, even if it’s a few dozen kilodaltons heavier.
Collagen Quench: a refreshing way to get your collagen
Collagen Types I, II, III, IV, and V
Collagenous tissues are not uniform. Cartilage doesn’t look or feel like tendon, which doesn’t feel like skin. They’re all slightly different because there are different “types” of collagen that constitute them. Over two dozen, actually. But if we’re talking about supplementary or dietary collagen, there are three primary types we encounter.
Type I Collagen
Found in skin, bones, tendons, eyes, and many other tissues type I collagen constitutes almost 90% of the collagen in the body. That goes for humans but also cows and pigs and other mammals, meaning throughout the course of meat-eating human history, the vast majority of dietary collagen we’ve consumed has been type I collagen. As such, type I, though “boring and unexciting,” is the form of collagen we should be focusing on.
Type II Collagen
Cartilage is made of type II collagen. If you’re a gristle eater, an end-of-bone scraper, you’re getting type II collagen. You can also get a nice dose of type II collagen by eating the sternum of the chicken carcass—that’s the unctuous morsel of chewy cartilage lying at the end of the chest bone between the ribcages and one of my favorite parts of the chicken.
Type III Collagen
Type III collagen appears alongside type I in skin, bones, and also can be found in blood vessels and other hollow organs throughout the body. Most collagen supplements are type I with a bit of type III.
Types IV and V
Types IV and V aren’t as abundant in the body, and aren’t as widely used in supplements. You may see these in supplements as part of combination collagens. If you eat a varied diet, you’ll probably get enough in your food.
Focus on Types I, II, and III for skin, hair, joints, and other benefits you’re after. How much of each? To be quite honest, it’s not a big deal either way if you get more Type I than Type II or Type III. They’re all made up of the same basic amino acids, and your body knows what to do with them once they’re digested and assimilated. You don’t need to micromanage various collagen types as long as you’re eating some form of the collagen, whether through collagen peptides, gelatin, or gelatinous meats and bones.
I wish it were different. I wish you could get crazily specific effects by eating a lot of a specific collagen type. But, as far as my research shows, you can’t.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope it clears some things up and makes your decision a whole lot easier.
The post Type I, II, or III Collagen? Different types of Collagen and How to Choose the Best One for You appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Great news: If you’re already using collagen peptides for your hair, skin, and nails, you’re likely getting a bunch of other whole-body benefits.
Clearly we humans are meant to consume a good amount of collagen. Our ancestors ate nose-to-tail, consuming skin and connective tissue, and boiling down bones to make broth. Gelatin and collagen would have been abundant in the human diet. They provide amino acids needed for a dizzying array of metabolic functions. The amino acids also serve as blocks for collagen in the body.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, providing structure and support for the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Crucially, we need glycine from collagen to balance the lifespan-shortening effects of methionine in meat.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5350494/‘>2
Human studies show that just 3 grams of glycine taken before bed improves sleep quality and daytime alertness for individuals with chronic sleep issues,https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22293292/‘>4 and sleep restriction.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21414089‘>6 Glycine also facilitates the drop in core body temperature that promotes a healthy sleep cycle.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4397399/‘>8
Sleep experts generally recommend taking 3 to 5 grams of glycine before bedtime. You can buy glycine supplements, but collagen is about one-third glycine. A heaping scoop of collagen peptides will net you those 3 grams of glycine, plus other important amino acids.
Collagen Benefits Your Muscles, Tendons, and Bones
When talking about body composition, we usually mean the amount of body fat and muscle mass an individual carries. What about the other stuff—the bones and connective tissue that give our body structure and allow us to move around? In fact, the entire musculoskeletal system benefits from the amino acids in collagen.
Collagen to Build Strength
Lots of people use whey or soy protein supplements to enhance the effects of resistance training and build muscle. Collagen, on the other hand, has been largely overlooked because it’s not a complete protein. In particular, it doesn’t contain the levels of BCAAs found in whey protein.
I think collagen deserves a second look, though. For one thing, the high amount of glycine plus alanine in collagen provide building blocks for creatine. Creatine boosts energy production in muscle cells, and it’s probably the most widely used supplement for increasing muscle mass.
Also, in a series of studies, elderly men with sarcopenia,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566878/‘>10 and premenopausal womenhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31091754/‘>12
What does this mean? Collagen ups the effectiveness of resistance training. More research is needed to understand precisely how—whether it increases muscle synthesis, tendon integrity, both, and/or other. In any case, though, adding a couple scoops of collagen to your post-workout routine seems a worthy experiment.
Collagen for Your Connective Tissues and Joints
Speaking of tendons, there’s evidence that collagen supplementation helps strengthen and maintain connective tissue. Connective tissue is made up of collagen, so it’s not really a big surprise. I first become enamored with collagen after rehabbing a serious Achilles tendon injury. I’m convinced that my recovery was accelerated thanks to loading up on collagen peptides.
Studies back up my experience:
- Animal studies using ratshttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16161767/‘>14 show that feeding the animals glycine and collagen peptides, respectively, strengthens their Achilles tendons.
- In humans, taking 15 grams of gelatin plus 50 mg of vitamin C before working out improves tendons’ performance by increasing collagen deposition and remodeling.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5950747/‘>16
- Male and female college athletes who supplemented with 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate for 24 weeks reported significantly less joint pain across various activities. The effects were particularly strong among participants with pre-existing knee arthralgia (pain).https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29701488/‘>18
- In another study, adults over 50 with joint pain took a modest dose—1.2 g/day—of collagen for 6 months and reported less pain in the shoulder, arm, hand, and lumbar spine. There were no differences for knee or hip pain, though.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21251991/‘>20
Collagen Builds Strong Bones
More than 90 percent of the organic matrix of bone is collagen, mostly type I.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871752/‘>22
It should come as no surprise, then, that collagen supplementation seems to improve bone health. This has been demonstrated repeatedly with rats.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15490264/‘>24 In humans, adding 5 grams of collagen peptides per day for 12 months increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporosis.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26334651/‘>26
Collagen for Heart Health
Many animal studies suggest that supplementing with collagen can improve cardiovascular health. Glycine, specifically, may be cardioprotective thanks to its known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
- In rats, administering glycine reduces blood triglycerides and blood pressure.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16444815/‘>28
- Collagen tripeptides reduce the size of atherosclerotic plaques and improve cholesterol markers in rabbits with hypercholesterolemia.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20170381/‘>30
- In mice, it lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, and pro-inflammatory cytokines. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26722126/‘>32
- One study showed that healthy adults who took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months lowered their LDL-C/HDL-C ratio. They also had significantly fewer toxic advanced glycation end-products, a marker of atherosclerosis risk, in their bloodstreams at the end of the study.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19202283/‘>34 A follow-up found similar effects using a smaller dose of 2.9 grams per day.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29447076‘>36
Collagen for Diabetes?
It might sound like a stretch at first, but individuals with low glycine are at greater risk for developing diabetes,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29094215‘>38 while high glycine is associated with normal blood sugar control.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855430/‘>40 A handful of studies further show that glycine can reduce certain diabetic complications in rats and humans.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27852613/‘>42
I’m interested in your experience. Did you start incorporating bone broth or collagen peptides in your routine and notice any unexpected benefits? What’s your favorite way to get collagen in your diet?
The post Collagen Benefits for Your Bones, Heart, Sleep and More, Backed by Science appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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For decades, the health community had written off collagen as a “useless” protein. It wasn’t essential, in that it contained no amino acids you couldn’t make yourself. It didn’t contribute directly to muscle protein synthesis, so the bodybuilders weren’t interested. In all my years running marathons and then competing in triathlon at an elite level, no one talked about collagen. It was completely ignored, especially after the rash of collagen-based “liquid diets” ended up with a lot of people dead or in the hospital.
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I’ll start with the bad news: There are no vegetarian collagen sources. Every collagen supplement you see on the shelf came from a living organism. Though somewhere down the line someone will probably grow legitimate collagen in a lab setting, it’s not available today or for the foreseeable future.
Now, some good news: Vegans and vegetarians probably need less dietary collagen than the average meat eater or Primal eater because a major reason omnivores need collagen is to balance out all the muscle meat we eat. When we metabolize methionine, an amino acid found abundantly in muscle meat, we burn through glycine, an amino acid found abundantly in collagen. If you’re not eating muscle meat, you don’t need as much glycine to balance out your diet, but it’s still a dietary necessity.
Collagen isn’t just about “balancing out meat intake.” It’s the best source of a conditionally essential amino acid known as glycine. We only make about 3 grams of glycine a day. That’s not nearly enough. The human body requires at least 10 grams per day for basic metabolic processes, so we’re looking at an average daily deficit of 7 grams that we need to make up for through diet. And in disease states that disrupt glycine synthesis, like rheumatoid arthritis, we need even more.
What About Marine Collagen?
Okay, but eating a product made from a cuddly cow or an intelligent pig is off limits for most vegetarians. What about marine collagen—collagen derived from fish bones, scales, and skin?
Back about twenty years ago, “vegetarians” often ate fish. A number of them still exist out in the wild, people who for one reason or another avoid eating land animals (including birds) but do regularly consume marine animals. If it jibes with your ethics, marine collagen is a legitimate source of collagen for vegetarians. The constituent amino acids are nearly identical to the amino acids of mammalian collagen with very similar proportions and properties.
It’s highly bioavailable, with the collagen peptides often showing up intact in the body and ready to work their magic—just like bovine or porcine collagen. In fact, if you ask many marine collagen purveyors, it’s even more bioavailable than mammalian collagen owing to its lower molecular weight.
I’m not sure that’s actually accurate, though.
According to some sources, marine collagen comes in smaller particles and is thus more bioavailable than mammalian collagen, but I haven’t seen solid evidence.
There’s this paper, which mentions increased bioavailability in a bullet point off-hand, almost as an assumption or common knowledge.
This analysis found low molecular weights in collagen derived from fish waste. Mammalian collagen generally has higher molecular weights, so that appears to be correct.
However, a very recent pro-marine collagen paper that makes a strong case for the use of marine collagen in wound repair, oral supplementation, and other medical applications does not mention increased bioavailability. It may be slightly more bioavailable—the lower the molecular weight, the more true that is—but I don’t think the effect is very meaningful. Mammalian collagen is plenty bioavailable (most efficacious studies use collagen from cows or pigs), even if it’s a few dozen kilodaltons heavier.
But even if marine collagen isn’t particularly superior to mammal collagen, it is equally beneficial.
For skin health: Fish collagen improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in humans who eat it. And again.
For metabolism: Fish collagen improves glucose and lipid metabolism in type 2 diabetics. HDL and insulin sensitivity go up, triglycerides and LDL go down.
And although fish collagen hasn’t been studied in the treatment of joint pain, if it’s anything like other types of collagen, it will help there too.
What Are Strict Vegetarian Options?
What if you absolutely won’t eat collagen from marine sources? Is there anything you can do as a vegetarian to make up for it?
Make Your Own
You could cobble together your own facsimile of collagen by making an amino acid mixture. Glycine, proline, and arginine don’t cover all the amino acids present in collagen, but they’re widely available and hit the major ones.
Still, eating the amino acids that make up collagen separately doesn’t have the same effect on those collagenous tissues as eating them together in a collagenous matrix. One reason is that the collagen matrix can survive digestion more or less intact, giving it different biological properties and effects.
In one study, rats with osteoporosis ate collagen hydrolysate that scientists had marked with a radioactive signature to allow them to track its course through the body. It survived the digestive tract intact, made it into the blood, and accumulate in the kidneys. By day 14, the rats’ thigh bones had gotten stronger and denser with more organic matter and less water content.
Another study found similar results, this time for cartilage of the knee. Mice who ate radioactive collagen hydrolysate showed increased radioactivity in the knee joint.
In both cases, the collagen remained more or less intact. A blend of the isolated amino acids would not. The fact is that collagen is more than glycine. When you feed people collagen derived from pork skin, chicken feet, and cartilage, many different collagenous peptides appear in the blood. You don’t get any of those from isolated glycine.
That’s not to say it’s pointless. Pure glycine can be a helpful supplement, used in several studies to improve multiple markers of sleep quality. Just don’t expect it to have the same effect as full-blown collagen.
Get Adequate Vitamin C
Acute scurvy, caused by absolute vitamin C deficiency, triggers the dissolution of your connective tissue throughout the body. Teeth fall out, no longer held in by gums. Wounds don’t heal, your body unable to lay down new collagen.
Vegetarians usually don’t have any issues getting adequate vitamin C.
Get Adequate Copper
Copper is a necessary cofactor in the production of collagen. Studies show that you can control the production of collagen simply by providing or withholding copper.
The best vegetarian source of copper is probably dark chocolate, the darker and more bitter the better.
Get Adequate Lysine
Lysine is another amino acid that’s necessary for the production of collagen.
True vegetarian collagen doesn’t exist. Strict vegetarians will balk. But if you can bend the rules a bit, realize that making marine collagen out of fins and scales and bones is far less wasteful than just throwing it away, and look at the benefits with an objective eye, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Even if you don’t end up using marine collagen, at least you have a few tools for getting many of the benefits with quick shortcuts and optimizing your own production of collagen.
Have you ever tried marine collagen? If you’re a vegetarian, would you consider it?
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and be well.
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Collagen, collagen, collagen. via GIPHY Every where I go and every time I scroll, it seems like people just can’t get enough collagen. via GIPHY I get it. With purported benefits such as improving everything from gut health to to cardio health to joint health, it is the current hotness in the nutrition world. via GIPHY And, on the off chance you’re into collagen these days, too, but are getting a bit tired of the ol’ bone broth … via GIPHY Let me introduce you to two other ways to get your collagen in. And, guys, they are SUPER tasty! Vital…
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