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Counting on Collagen

A supplement that has become very popular, particularly amongst the female populace, is collagen. Every supplement store and even bigger supermarket chains have a collagen supplement of some sort stocked on their shelves.  This uptake in popularity has good reason for its rise so we will delve into what collagen actually is, what it does and what you can look to get from it.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most available and present type of protein in your body as it takes up almost a third of your body’s total protein composition. It is a vital building block for many of your body’s key features such as your bones, skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. In this sense, collagen can be seen as a kind of adhesive or focal point that holds things together in those areas.

As your get older, your body begins to produce less collagen and the quality of said collagen begins to lower as well. A notable sign of this would be to look at the skin of a person and note that it becomes less and less firm. Additionally, the cartilage begins to weaken as well.

There are around 16 different types of collagen, but we are only really concerned about the four main types: type I, II, III, and IV. Each has a role or function to play in certain bodily functions.

What do these collagen types do?

Collagen Type I – Collagen Type I makes up around 90% of your body’s total collagen and is made up of fibres that have been densely packed together. As a result of this, it provides structure and foundational support to major areas in the body such as your skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.

Collagen Type II – Collagen Type II consists of fibres that are more loosely condensed. In this regard, they serve as support to your joints as they cushion them. They can mostly be found in elastic cartilage.

Collagen Type III – Collagen Type III does not have as much of a count as the other two, but they still play the important role of provide support and structure to your muscles, organs, and arteries.

Collagen Type IV – Collagen Type IV plays the role of assisting with some of the body’s filtration functions. They can be found in various layers of your skin.

Why take collagen supplements

Firstly, collagen supplements have been designed with the purpose of providing the body with a source of collagen that has broken down the large protein into smaller peptides which are, as a result, easier for the body to absorb and make use of.

If we look at two studies that observed the effect of collagen on arthritis and skin, we will note that there are massive potential benefits from taking collagen supplements and massive potential for future advancements in the production of collagen supplements as well.

In 2017, a study that had a look at animals observed the effects of giving collagen supplements to “mice with post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). The results indicated that supplementation may play a protective role in the disease’s development and progression”.[1]

Additionally, in 2019 a study on skin elasticity observed a group of women who showed marked improvements in skin elasticity and skin appearance after receiving a steady and controlled dose of collagen.[2]

How to make the best of your collagen count

First things first, obviously supplementing with a good collagen supplement takes the cake when it comes to making sure you get good quality collagen into your system. However, there are some additional dos and don’ts when it comes to ensuring you get the best out of your collagen.

Do's

  • Make sure you get in a healthy dose of the following:
    • Vitamin C – Supplementing would be the best option here. But you can make use of vitamin C containing fruits.
    • Proline – These can be found in eggs, dairy products, and various vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms and asparagus.
    • Glycine – You can supplement this or find this in various protein foods.
  • Eat a lot of high-quality protein foods. Getting in a large spectrum of amino acids will help your body produce new proteins.

 Don’ts

  • Go overboard with the sugar consumption. Sugar in and of itself is not bad. In many instances, sugar is great. However, everything in moderation. Too much sugar can interfere with body’s ability to repair collagen.
  • Getting too much sun. Sunshine is great and, again, a healthy dose of daily sun should be a priority. However, too much sun can reduce collagen production as a result of ultraviolet overexposure. Moderation is the theme.
  • This one is just bad, period. But it also reduces collagen production in the body.

In closing, the argument for the use collagen is a strong one. It has a myriad of benefits and due to its effects, it is no wonder that it is a hit supplement amongst women. However, it should not be seen as a woman’s supplement as men can take tremendous advantage of it and its benefits as well.

 

[1] Dar, Qurratul-Ain et al. “Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis.” PloS one vol. 12,4 e0174705. 6 Apr. 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174705

[2] Bolke, Liane et al. “A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study.” Nutrients vol. 11,10 2494. 17 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11102494