The role of collagen in the body is vast. As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen acts as a key mechanism for several functions, from strengthening bones and providing structure to the skin to improving heart health and promoting muscle growth, among other things.
Over the past few years, collagen has become one of the most popular protein sources on the market, and for a good reason. Found in foods, dietary supplements, and hygiene products, collagen shows no signs of slowing down.
Simply put, collagen is an incredible source of protein. In this article, we’ll be discussing what collagen is and what benefits collagen provides.
Let’s get right into it.
What is Collagen?
As mentioned in the preface of this article, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Just as protein is generally known as the building blocks of life, collagen is the building block of the skin, bones, muscles, and tendons.
Collagen is a protein source responsible for much of the structure of the human body, providing several health benefits and key functions throughout. By consuming collagen daily, whether through food sources or supplementation, you can begin to experience the amazing power of all that it has to offer.
While you may encounter several names when shopping for a collagen supplement (hydrolyzed collagen, collagen powder, collagen peptides, collagen hydrolysate), they’re primarily the same thing.
With that said, opting for a collagen peptide rather than a broad collagen supplement is likely your best bet. Not only is the quality typically higher, but because it’s a more broken-down, hydrolyzed version of collagen, collagen peptides are much more bioavailable.
Moreover, there happens to be four distinct types of collagen…
To summarize, the four types of collagen are as follows:
- Type 1: Makes up the majority of bodily collagen (up to 90%). Promotes skin, bone, teeth, and cartilage health, among other things.
- Type 2: Acts as a layer of cushiony protection for your joints. Hence, joint health…
- Type 3: Structurally significant to your arteries and organs, as well as your muscles and nails.
- Type 4: Promotes skin health and acts as a layer of protection from the outer environment.
Suppose you’re looking for an effective premium dietary supplement packed with nutrition to upgrade your overall health & wellness, improve skin, bone, and joint health, among other benefits. In that case, collagen protein powder is a great choice. Still not convinced of the fantastic benefits collagen has to offer? Continue reading to learn more about the benefits in detail!
The Difference Between Collagen and Gelatin
In short, gelatin is a degraded form of collagen. Because collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, gelatine boasts many of the same benefits that collagen does.
The differences lie mainly in their chemical structure…
Without getting into the science, while collagen is more of a digestible, mixable powder, gelatin boasts a thicker, jelly-like substance.
When considering whether to supplement with collagen or gelatin, the choice is actually quite simple. By taking into account the primary purpose of consumption, you’ll be better equipped to make the decision.
If you’re looking for a health supplement for its nutritional properties, collagen is the obvious choice. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative cooking/baking ingredient. However, gelatin is the superior option.
How Collagen Protein Powder is Made
While collagen is naturally made within the body, its production slows as we age. As such, supplementing with a collagen protein powder is arguably the best alternative.
Collagen supplements are typically a derivative of cow or bovine tissue but can also derive from fish.
The process is quite simple. Based on a hydrolyzing process, the cow tissue is first cleaned and properly soaked. This removes any excess fat not beneficial to the quality of protein. Next, the tissue is placed under extreme heat, specifically in hot water, to draw the collagen from the tissue.
Lastly, and without getting too detailed, an evaporation and milling process takes place. This produces the final result; high-quality, pure collagen protein powder.
When to Use Collagen Protein Powder
Like many protein powders, the time you consume it largely depends on preference and reasoning behind supplementing with it. With that said, there’s no right or wrong time to take it.
Instead, take it when it’s most enjoyable and convenient for you, whether that’s in the morning with a cup of coffee, as a mid-day snack, or a night mixed with a warm glass of milk.
How to Use Collagen Protein Powder
Similarly, how you consume it is also preferential. Collagen is easily mixable in several liquids, whether water, coffee, or milk, among other options. Collagen protein powder is also a great addition to baked goods and smoothies.
It’s recommended that the average adult consume 3-15 grams of collagen daily. Depending on the size of your protein powder scoop, measure accordingly. Most collagen protein powders are hydrolyzed, so mixing shouldn’t be an issue.
Benefits of Collagen Protein Powder
Consuming collagen regularly has shown to be highly beneficial for many reasons. Backed by science and used by millions across the globe, collagen is a leading protein source not only for its health and wellness benefits but for the several benefits about to be discussed.
While more research needs to be done on the matter to stand by the following benefits conclusively, the data currently available is promising to say the least.
Below are the most commonly reported health benefits of taking collagen:
- Improves Hair, Nail, & Skin Health
- Improves Bone Health
- Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis
- Relieves Joint Pain & Discomfort
- Reduces Risk of Osteoarthritis
- Aids in Muscle Growth
- Aids in Strength Gains
- Promotes Heart Health
- Reduces Risk of Atherosclerosis
Improve Hair, Skin, & Nail Health
Have you ever wondered by those of an elder age have dry, wrinkly skin? In short, it’s because the human body produces less collagen as we age. By supplementing with the proper dosages, collagen can assist in repairing damaged skin, protecting the current layer, and also aids in the hydration and elasticity of the skin.
In preliminary studies, collagen has also been shown to promote hair growth and strengthen nails; a pretty convenient added benefit!
Boost Bone Density (Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis)
As mentioned above, the body produces less collagen as we age. Well, we also lose bone density as we age. Do you want to guess why? That’s because collagen is what makes up the structure of our bones.
By taking collagen in the proper dosages, studies have shown that it will not only stop the deterioration of bones but strengthen them. This, for obvious reasons, can have an impact on the reduction of getting osteoporosis.
Relieve Joint Pain (Reduce Risk of Osteoarthritis)
Without getting to biological, our joints are protected by a rubbery tissue known as cartilage. Much like collagen aids in preserving the structure of our muscles and bones, it too protects the structure of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Taking collagen has been shown to not only reduce joint pain for those living with osteoarthritis but reverse and prevent such symptoms.
Aid in Muscle Growth & Build Strength
While collagen isn’t going to make you a pro bodybuilder or physique model, it may aid in muscle protein synthesis to a small degree. Because collagen is a protein, a small percentage is found in muscle tissue.
By consuming collagen, you may see minor results in muscle growth. In addition, it may also promote an increase in strength for those with age-related muscle loss issues.
Promote Heart Hearth (Reduce Risk of Atherosclerosis)
Because this is a more serious claim, more research must be done before conclusively associating it with promoting heart health. Nevertheless, recent studies have been shown to suggest that taking collagen may potentially reduce the risk of certain heart conditions.
This correlation is likely because collagen plays a role in structuring the blood vessels connected to the heart.
The benefits of collagen are extensive, and as such, should be considered a staple in everyone’s health regimen. Collagen benefits the body in its entirety, from your skin, hair, and nails, to your heart, bones, and surrounding tendons & ligaments.
Collagen Protein Powder vs. Whey Protein Powder
Before beginning this comparison, it’s worth noting that one protein source isn’t necessarily superior to the other. It simply depends on preference, reasoning, and goals.
First and foremost, while whey may be considered the superior protein powder for muscle building, collagen happens to be the main protein in the body. Collagen is an incredibly nutritious source of protein, a great compliment to a well-balanced diet.
On the other hand, whey protein is an incredible source of high-quality, fast-digesting protein that happens to be rich in amino acids, both essential and branched-chain, including leucine, a great natural muscle builder (an amino acid that collagen unfortunately lacks).
Adding to the fact that collagen is a mediocre source of amino acids at best, whey gains the edge there, boasting an incredibly rich amino acids profile…
Simply stated, whey protein is an excellent source for improving exercise performance, recovery, and muscle growth.
As you can begin to understand, no protein source is inherently better than the other. They serve different purposes in their own right.
The good news? No rule book states that you can’t supplement with both collagen AND whey. If it’s within your budget and means to do so, both are a great addition to a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle.
Potential Side Effects of Collagen Supplementation
Rated as low-risk for any potential side effects, there’s very little to worry about when it comes to supplementing with collagen protein powder. Not only is it packed with nutrients, but it’s easy on the kidney’s, and it’s generally a healthy alternative protein source.
Additionally, much of the potential allergens are eliminated because of the rigorous and complex hydrolyzation process that collagen protein powder undergoes to reach its final form.
The most common side effects that appear in some who consume collagen protein powder are gas and bloating.
There are, however, minority populations that may need to practice more caution than the average consumer when it comes to collagen protein powder supplementation. Those minority populations? vegans and vegetarians.
Because collagen is derived mainly from cow, pig, or fish farms/factories, the ingredients may not align with one’s dietary limitations. As such, it’s essential to review the nutrition label of the product you intend to purchase.
Nevertheless, collagen protein powder is widely safe amongst the majority of the population and should not warrant concern and worry.
Collagen is a crucial protein that provides several benefits for the body in its entirety. However, as we age, our body begins to deteriorate in several ways. By taking the proper dosages of collagen, and a high-quality version of collagen at that, you can not only support your health but reverse the bodily deterioration.
While more research still needs to be done on the matter, there’s no denying that the data that’s out on collagen to date is promising to say the least!