All You Need To Know About Collagen And Collagen Supplements

Collagen is an essential protein found in abundance in our body, especially in areas like the muscles, bones, teeth, skin, and tendons. These proteins give structure and strength to the specific body parts. For instance, collagen fibers support body tissues and cells. There are at least 16 different types of collagen in the body, of which collagen I, II, and III make up about 80–90% of the total.1 What do these types signify?

Deficiency of one or all of these types of collagen can cause multiple health issues. For some, collagen deficiency cannot be treated only with natural sources. In such cases, collagen supplements may be helpful.

Types Of Collagen In The Body

Some of the most common types of collagen are as follows:2

  • Type I collagen: This is the most common type of collagen in the body. Type I collagen is what the connective tissues of the skin, bone, teeth, tendons, and ligaments are made of.
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  • Type II collagen: This is the main component of cartilage in the body.
  • Type III collagen: This is found in the walls of arteries and gives strength and shape to organs like liver, heart, and kidneys.
  • Type IV collagen: This is the major structural component of basement membranes – membranes that attach layers of tissues in the body.

What Happens In A Collagen Deficiency?

You may face collagen deficiency due to a deficiency of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the production of collagen in the body. So when your vitamin C levels go down, collagen production also slows down.3

Similarly, zinc also plays a role in the production and accumulation of collagen in the body. So, a zinc deficiency may cause collagen levels to deteriorate.4

Common
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Symptoms Of Collagen Deficiency

Frequent muscle pain is a symptom of collagen deficiency

Collagen deficiency usually occurs after the age of 40 and is a normal process. When this does happen, your body gives certain signs of the deficiency, such as these:

  • Formation of wrinkles and easy bruising of the skin
  • Difficulty in healing wounds
  • Frequent muscle aches
  • Instability, pain, and stiffness in joints
  • Chest pain and breathing difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Toothaches and early damage to teeth

How To Treat Collagen Deficiency

Cow, pig, fish, and chicken are sources of collagen supplements

To combat the symptoms of a collagen deficiency, collagen supplements are increasingly being used to boost collagen production. These supplements have gained popularity in cosmetic as well as fitness fields due to the many benefits.

One of the most important things to remember about collagen supplements is that they are made from hydrolyzed collagen. This makes it easier to digest and absorb and may be helpful for those with a sensitive stomach. Collagen supplements are made from different sources. The most common sources are:

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  • Piscine (fish)
  • Bovine (cow)
  • Porcine (pig)
  • Fowl (chicken)

The most effective of these sources are piscine and bovine, which are commonly used to manufacture the supplements.

Proven Benefits Of Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements can improve athletic performance

Most people choose natural sources to meet their body’s collagen needs. This may work for healthy individuals. However, sometimes, individuals deficient in the protein may require a speedy collagen production. This is where collagen supplements become useful.

Skeptical about collagen supplementation? Here are a few benefits that may help you change your mind.

  1. Benefits arthritic patients: Studies have reported that collagen supplements improve osteoarthritis of the knee using type II collagen.5 Similarly, type II collagen fed to rheumatoid arthritis patients has had positive results with negligible side effects.6
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  3. Improves athletic performance: Collagen hydrolysate supplementation may help reduce activity-induced joint pain, thereby improving the performance of athletes. It may be helpful to keep the joints healthy.7
  4. Reduces visible signs of aging: Collagen supplements can reduce visible signs of aging like wrinkles and also increase collagen density and skin firmness. According to one study, taking 50 ml of a collagen supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and minerals produced these results.8
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  6. Increases muscle strength: Collagen supplementation, along with resistance-training exercises, can improve the body composition and increase muscle mass in elderly men with sarcopenia (a condition that causes low muscle mass and low muscular strength or physical performance).9

But, is using collagen supplements the best way to boost collagen production? The answer is no. Most health professionals recommend supplements only if the collagen deficiency cannot be treated by eating collagen-rich foods. Some may even face minor side effects like a reduced appetite or an allergic reaction to supplements. For this reason, it is always better to stick to natural sources of collagen, like fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale that contain antioxidants, vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes that contain vitamin A, vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits like oranges and even vegetables like red peppers and broccoli.

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