What is collagen?
Collagen is the glue that keeps us together!
Collagen is the most important substance to the foundations of the human body. Making up approximately 30% of the proteins in our bodies, it is vital to skin elasticity, and the preservation of every connective tissue that we have; ligaments, tendons, skin, cartilage, and bones.
The primary collagen types that we most commonly focus on are types I, II, and III. These forms of collagen comprise about 80%-90% of the total collagen content within us. Utilized in the body, external collagen is siphoned up for use in the large collagen helix structure, organized into strong fibers which lend structural tissue support, elasticity, and resilience.
As we move through our lives, our bodies naturally begin to produce less collagen, and the first signs of aging begin to occur. From around the age of 30 and rapidly depleting in our 40s, loss of collagen affects all the connective tissues.
Collagen loss in skin:
As skin cells become less active, the collagen networks that provide skin firmness and structure begin to deteriorate. Our skin becomes dehydrated and thinner, wrinkles and deep furrows start to appear, and so in ensues.
Collagen loss in bones:
Bone cell turnover becomes imbalanced and bone loss exceeds bone formation. This results in our bones becoming more fragile and breakable.
Collagen loss in joints:
A reduction in our levels of collagen and other matrix components caused by the progression of age can lead to loss of cartilage and joint mobility. This results in joint discomfort, stiffness, clicking, and grinding.
Collagen loss in muscles:
A gradual loss of muscle mass and strength caused by aging can affect our balance, gait and overall mobility.
Collagen, Gelatin, & Collagen Peptides
Collagen is a safe and natural ingredient available in different grades. It can be found in foods, such as bone broth or gelatin-based desserts. Its solubility, absorption and digestibility levels vary from one grade to another.
Collagen or “Native Collagen,” is composed of large triple helix chains of amino acids and strengthens the structure of our body. It is not soluble. Typical applications include collagen casings, medical materials, sponges for burns/wounds etc. The molecular weight of native collagen is around 300 - 400kDa.
Gelatin is obtained by partial hydrolysis of collagen. This process occurs when collagen triple helices are broken down to the point where they are pulled apart into individual strands. Gelatin will only dissolve in hot water, and will jellify when it is cooled (this is the same gelatin you would get in the bone broth you prepare at home). Because of its gelling, foaming, emulsifying and binding functionalities, gelatin is often used in culinary applications, such as gummy candies, jellies, sauce thickeners etc. Gelatin also has an irreplaceable role in pharma applications, where it is often used as excipient for making soft and hard capsules. Gelatin has a molecular weight of 50kDa.
When gelatin is hydrolyzed even further, those individual strands of protein are broken down into small peptides of amino acids. Collagen peptides are soluble in cold water, highly digestible and ready to be absorbed by our bodies. Studies have demonstrated that over 90% of the peptides we consume are digested and absorbed within a few hours after consumption. This rapid absorption ensures an effective delivery of the essential peptides and amino acids to their site of action in our bodies.
Collagen peptides are highly bioavailable. They act as building blocks, renewing bodily tissues, such as skin, bones and joints. It has been proposed that collagen peptides may act as a messenger to the cells and trigger the synthesis and reorganization of new collagen fibers, thereby supporting our tissue structure. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated collagen peptides’ health benefits. Key areas of benefit include healthy aging, joint and bone health, sports nutrition and skin beauty. Collagen peptides are cold water-soluble and highly bioavailable and bioactive. This makes them a better option for functional foods and beverages and dietary supplements than gelatin. Collagen peptides have a molecular weight of less than 5000Da.
Collagen is available at The Healthy Grocery in a variety of forms and by different amazing companies. Garden of Life has also just launched their Collagen line, which is now available at The Healthy Grocer, as well.