Collagen is one of the proteins in our body that can be found in the most abundance and it’s especially prevalent in large amounts in our hair, nails, and skin.
Known scientifically as a polypeptide, collagen is made up of a blend of different amino acids, such as glycine and proline, that are found in all of the connective tissues in our bodies.
Many beauty and hair products these days rave about benefits of collagen, although it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s topical use that result in any benefits – the most benefit of it comes internally.
Before getting into the benefits of collagen for skin and hair, let’s take a look at the basics of it first.
What is Collagen Exactly?
In the most basic sense, collagen is a protein that’s made up of amino acids (specifically glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine)
It’s found in animal tissue, mostly the bones and connective tissue, and collagen forms about 30% of the proteins that are in our bodies.
Collagen is the protein that gives our skin elasticity, makes our hair strong, and enables our connective tissues to keep everything in place when we’re moving around.
As you get old the natural production of collagen in your body starts to slow down and decline – a factor that’s impacted even more by an unhealthy diet, high stress levels, and an imbalance in gut health.
The Differences Between Collagen and Gelatin
A lot of magazines and health bloggers these days are using collagen and gelatin like they mean the same thing but there’s actually a different between the two.
When it’s in your body collagen can be found in its most basic form and it’s gelatin that becomes produced when collagen becomes heated up or boiled.
Both are quite similar but when it comes to health supplements it’s pretty confusing in regards to the difference between the two.
There are two main types of collagen/gelatin that you’ll find in health supplements:
- Collagen peptides
- Collagen protein
Collagen peptides is the hydrolyzed form of gelatin where the proteins are broken down into their own separate peptide chains.
These peptides are a lot easier to digest and they’re a good supplement for people to use that are suffering from any problems with digestion or gut health.
Many people prefer this form because it can be easily mixed into drinks and it doesn’t have a taste so it can also be easily added to any foods without altering the flavor.
Collagen protein, on the other hand, Is the pure form and is a much better idea to use for individuals on specific diets that need a supplement that can coat the digestive tract.
This is the form that can be turned into a gel during the cooking process and it’s a good one to use for specific diet recipes and for making healthy food items.
If you’re familiar with bone broth this is the form that is naturally found in it because the heat during the cooking process actually breaks down the natural collagen that’s found in the bones.
This is also why any bone broth that you make at home will become a lot thicker and likely turn to gel once you put it in the fridge.
In the past both collagen and gelatin were consumed on a much more regular basis and in quite bigger amounts because of the different soups, gravies and meat with bones that people used to eat.
The Benefits of Collagen for Skin
The entire body will experience benefits from increased collagen exposure but it’s the skin where you’ll see the most noticeable benefits.
The reason for this is because as we get older the outer layer of skin becomes thinner and loses its elasticity (elastosis).
True of the process of this happening individuals begin to gain more wrinkles and show more of the common signs of aging.
Thankfully, these seemingly drastic changes are exactly permanent and with proper treatment and care can likely be reversed.
There was even a recent study that revealed that women that took collagen hydrolysate (the peptide form of it) on a regular basis for 8 weeks saw an up to 20% reduction in the amount of wrinkles that they had.
It was also shown that after an 8-week intake there was a noticeable increase in the amount of procollagen and elastin in the body.
What this reveals is that the collagen supplement looks to have helped the body’s production process of collagen.
It’s the same study also revealed that a regular consumption of collagen has a direct correlation with the improvement of skin elasticity and moisture, something that also declines as people age.
One thing to keep in mind is that during this study the hydrolyzed form of peptide was used and this is the most easily digestible form of collagen.
For those looking to improve the overall health of their skin I would definitely recommend using the peptide form.
The Other Benefits of Collagen
While the most noticeable benefits of an increase in collagen intake is in the skin there are also some other benefits that are just as, if not more, important.
Improved Joint and Bone Health
One area where the benefits are also most noticeable are with the overall health of your bones and joints.
By taking supplements and making it easier for your body to naturally produce collagen this provides the bones and joints with an available source of the amino acids they need and helps to improve their overall strength and health compared to if a supplement wasn’t used.
There’s also an interesting study to check out that showed a noticeable Improvement in joint pain for those taking a collagen supplement.
Improved Amino Acid Balance
Another benefit is that there are specific amino acids that can be found in collagen that help to improve the overall amino acid balance in your body.
This balance also helps to support natural hormone production and this impacts everything from your general mood to how you feel body-wise on a regular basis.
There’s a reason why those on diets that are designed to improve gut health regularly take gelatin and collagen.
It’s because these compounds help to coat the digestive tract which has an overall positive impact on digestion and makes it easier for individuals to digest food.
Where Can You Find Collagen?
There are a variety of different sources where you can find high-quality collagen powder and gelatin.
Whenever you find one that you’re interested in make sure to check the source and see that it’s from a respectable and highly-reviewed company that obtains its collagen from sources that have been grass-fed and properly pastured.
The gelatin and collagen that I recommend using should be:
- Sourced from a grass-fed and organically raised animal
- Packaged in containers that are BPA-free
You can also make an effort to add more collagen into your diet naturally.
This can be done by eating more foods that are high in healthy vitamins and collagen, including things like zucchini.