Collagen what you need to know, sources and benefits

Collagen what you need to know, sources and benefits

Collagen,What is collagen,What does collagen do in the body,Benefits of collagen,where does collagen come from,Marine collagen,collagen hydrosol,What is the best source of collagen?,Can you lose weight taking collagen?, Should you take collagen every day?,Should you take collagen every day?,Can you lose weight taking collagen?

Collagen and its benefits have been recognized for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it was not until the 19th century that it caught the attention of Western scientists. It is therefore only since 1980 that researchers have taken an interest in it.

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that has been used in the cosmetics industry for decades. It is the major constituent of connective tissue in mammals, its roles are varied and essential to the structure of the body. Indeed, collagen is a real framework for the human body!

However, available as a dietary supplement and in different forms, it is sometimes difficult to navigate and make a choice. In this article, you will learn about the functions and usefulness of collagen in the body, as well as some tips to help you choose the best supplement.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a natural substance found very widely in the human body. It is the most abundant protein in animals. It is found in the skin, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones. Collagen thus gives cohesion to the different tissues; it allows the support and maintenance of the body.

Collagen is divided into three main categories:

  • Type I collagen, the most common. It is found in the skin, tendons and bone tissue.
  • Type II collagen, located in the cartilages.
  • Type III collagen, located in muscles and in the walls of blood vessels.

How is collagen produced?

Collagen is a protein, or a polypeptide. It is therefore composed of a chain of amino acids, linked together by peptide bonds. Amino acids are compounds that are used throughout the body at the cellular level. They are either produced naturally by the body or they must be supplied through food.

Collagen is produced by different types of specialized cells, including cells called fibroblasts. These are located in connective tissues, which play a very important role in our body. Fibroblasts make it possible to assemble amino acids into polypeptides, and therefore to create collagen.

What does collagen do in the body?

Collagen is a so-called structural protein, that is, it participates in the structuring of the body. In mammals, including humans, collagen makes up nearly 35% of the body's protein.

Collagen indeed plays an important role in the functioning of most structures in our body. It performs various major and essential roles. It gives cohesion to tissues, gives them elasticity, resistance, flexibility and allows them to regenerate. Collagen supports the structure of the arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

Benefits of collagen

Collagen is credited with a variety of benefits, such as reducing joint pain, reducing wrinkles, promoting weight loss as well as optimizing athletic performance.

Essential for preserving the balance and the beauty of the skin, collagen is often integrated in the form of peptides in anti-aging cosmetic treatments such as creams or serums for the face, the eye area, the décolleté. In aesthetic medicine, it is injected directly into the dermis, so as to plump the tissues. Sometimes it is a collagen inducer that is injected to stimulate the natural production of collagen. Finally, collagen can be taken orally to supplement the synthesis of natural collagen. This protein has many beneficial effects for the skin. It contributes in particular to:

  • preserve skin elasticity, in particular in combination with elastin, another component of the dermis,
  • maintain skin hydration thanks to its joint action with hyaluronic acid which retains water in the tissues,
  • promote tissue regeneration and healing,
  • smooth the skin and fight against the signs of skin aging: appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, etc.
  • firm up the tissues, which helps, among other things, to fight cellulite.

The action of collagen is all the more effective when this protein is combined with antioxidants such as vitamin C or vitamin E which protect it against the harmful effects of free radicals. The benefits of collagen can also be seen in the wall of blood vessels, where it helps maintain impermeability and the capacity for contraction / expansion.

Collagen and joints

The extracellular matrix of joint cartilage is richly organized of type II collagen fibers. This collagen is one of the main components of joints and bones, making up nearly 70% of the weight of cartilage. The loss of collagen in the joints starts the process of joint pain.

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease, characterized by the wear and tear of the joint cartilage. It can affect the knees, hips, spine, neck, fingers or ankles. The first signs generally appear around 40/50 years old.

Arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, not to be confused with osteoarthritis, although both are in the rheumatism family.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition presenting a chronic inflammatory disorder where the immune system attacks the collagen in the joints, creating joint deformities and impaired mobility.

Collagen and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that combines the decrease in density of the bone with changes in its structure. The bone then becomes more fragile and less resistant, which greatly increases the risk of fracture.

In bone tissue, collagen is produced by osteoblasts, it forms lamellae that give bones their strength.

Collagen and skin: skin aging and cellulite

Thanks to its structural functions for the tissues of the body, collagen gives the skin its elasticity, improves its appearance and limits the appearance of wrinkles. However, from the age of 25, the endogenous production of collagen decreases, due to the drying out of the fibroblasts that make it. This is why the first signs of aging, fine lines and wrinkles, can appear on the face.

Beyond this property on the skin, collagen is also beneficial for the health of the hair.

Also, various studies suggest that collagen supplementation can help reduce cellulite, since it results from normal skin aging.

Collagen and digestive tract

The intestines are made up of connective tissue, whose role is to support and strengthen the lining of the digestive tract. This connective tissue contains collagen. The main functions of collagen are very important here as they allow the intestine to act as a barrier preventing the passage of unwanted particles into the blood. This lack of permeability is also called leaky bowel syndrome, causing chronic inflammation.

Muscle development

Muscle tissue is richly made up of collagen, which in turn is made up of glycine. Glycine is an amino acid active in the synthesis of creatine. The latter is found to 95% in the muscles. It is frequently consumed as a dietary supplement in certain sports to improve performance through muscle development. Therefore, it seems that collagen has an active role in muscle building.

Collagen and age

The collagen fibers in the dermis give the skin elasticity, tone and resistance. With age, these fibers become increasingly scarce. This is how fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks appear. The appearance of the skin changes, it becomes less supple.

This is quite natural, because when the body's collagen decreases, the epithelial structures become more fragile. Likewise, hair is less resilient, tendons and ligaments are less elastic, and joints lose flexibility.

There are factors that accelerate collagen loss that are always good to know. Among these factors, we can cite external factors:

  • exposure to the sun
  • the tobacco
  • pollutants
  • some toxic
  • the stress

All of them increase the production of free radicals in the body which destroy existing collagen.

As well as internal factors:

  • pathologies whose treatments inhibit the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals
  • the lack of hormonal production linked to menopause and aging

Decrease in collagen

Our body's production of collagen naturally begins to slow down with age. We can notice this degenerative process by the signs of aging: wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pain.

Other lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in sugar, smoking, and intense exposure to the sun, also contribute to the accelerated decline in collagen levels.

where does collagen come from

Bovine collagen

Bovine collagen is extracted from the skin of cattle, which is then sterilized and then liquefied. It is widely used in the field of aesthetic medicine, especially in the form of injections to increase the volume of the lips or reduce wrinkles. However, bovine collagen is absorbed by the body, its effects are only temporary; This is why the above interventions only last about three months.

Bovine collagen is also found in powder form, appreciated for the quality of its specific proteins, used as a food supplement in sports.

Marine collagen

Marine collagen is extracted from food industry residues, typically fish and shrimp. It is often used in wrinkle creams.

Type II collagen from poultry

There is also type II collagen, obtained from chicken breastbone. It is mainly used in the form of food supplements.

What is the best source of collagen?

Today's traditional diet contains less and less collagen. In fact, we consume less fatty meats and fewer dishes based on bone or cartilage, which are naturally rich in collagen.

An external food supply thus makes it possible to correct a potential collagen deficiency and to ensure an optimal structure of our tissues.

As a dietary supplement, collagen exists in two forms: native collagen and collagen hydrosol.

Native collagen has a complex molecular structure, its weight is high, so it cannot be directly absorbed and pass into the circulation. Only 1% of its natural form is retained by the body upon absorption. The bioavailability of native collagen is therefore of little interest.

Collagen hydrolyzate results from the enzymatic hydrolysis of gelatin from collagen. The molecules are divided and are then smaller, they are collagen peptides. The absorption rate then increases to 90%. Collagen hydrolyzate is the form best assimilated by the body, and therefore the one to be preferred.

Finally, collagen exists in the form of powder, capsules or cream. Oral intakes will have a global action on the body, creams will have a more targeted action.

Marine collagen

Marine collagen, extracted from fish or shrimp waste (skin, scales, bones), is more effective than bovine collagen. It is in fact more easily absorbed by the body. In addition, its structure is closer to human collagen and remains in the body longer.

Since they are less favored because they are deemed to be less effective, products made from bovine collagen are often less expensive.

In what formats are there?

In the market, marine collagen exists mainly in the form of creams, capsules and tablets. Some manufacturers offer it in liquid form. There is very little marine collagen powder.

How to choose it?

Like any industry, the fishing industry generates a lot of waste from fish processing (skins, bones, etc.). Marine collagen, which is made from this waste, could appear as a way to reuse it, and therefore reduce the waste and the amount of waste generated.

However, it is necessary to implement procedures to guarantee and verify the quality of its materials. If you want to buy marine collagen, we recommend that you pay attention to the origin of the products (as with any food elsewhere!). It is good to check the absence of GMOs and heavy metals, as well as the criterion of sustainable fishing.

When to take marine collagen?

Collagen is taken before a meal. The hydrolyzate can also be taken with a meal.

Generally, its dosage is divided during the day (morning and evening most often).

It is recommended to consume collagen in combination with vitamin C, which promotes its assimilation by the body. Oral intake of collagen can also be combined with other food supplements for the joints.

Are there any dangers?

According to many experts and various studies, marine collagen is not a health hazard.

No interaction with drug therapy is known to date. Likewise, there are no contraindications to taking collagen as a dietary supplement, no side effects have yet been identified. However, people with kidney disease, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking a supplement.

Collagen-based foods


Obtained from the skin and bones of animals, it is rich in protein and contains several amino acids that help to synthesize collagen.

It can be eaten in powder or in sheets, and is used for the preparation of panna cotta or other desserts (for example).

Meat products

Collagen is found in the bones and cartilages of meats; you can make homemade broth with it.


Egg yolks are particularly rich in collagen.

Fish and shellfish

As with meat, you can prepare broths or sauces from the skin and shells of seafood.

Food rich in collagen

As you will have noticed, there are very few foods that contain collagen. Nevertheless, it is possible to turn to a diet that both promotes its production and limits its degradation.

For this, you can opt for foods rich in amino acids, vitamins A, C and E and zinc. Here are a few examples below:

  • Royal jelly

Royal jelly is a substance produced by bees rich in nutrients which are indirectly involved in the synthesis of collagen.

You can get it directly from a beekeeper, or in capsules, tablets or ampoules.

  • The salmon

It is naturally rich in zinc. Zinc activates the proteins responsible for collagen synthesis.

  • Turkey

Turkey is particularly interesting for its amino acid content, and in particular glycine, which is a key player in the synthesis of collagen.

Turkey is also a good source of zinc, which helps in protein synthesis in general.

Sources of vitamin A

  • Vegetables: carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, collard greens, squash, lettuce, dandelion leaf, bell pepper.
  • Fruits: apricot, mango, melon
  • Meats: turkey meat, beef liver,
  • Fish: herring
  • Algae: spirulina

Sources of vitamin C

To promote the assimilation of collagen by the body, consider opting for a diet rich in vitamin C.

  • Vegetables: peppers, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, tomato ...
  • Fruits: kiwi, citrus, red fruits, exotic fruits ...

Sources of vitamin E

  • Vegetables: avocado, asparagus, spinach ...
  • Oilseeds: Brazil nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.
  • Seeds: sunflower, pine nuts ...
  • Oils: peanut, sunflower.

Should you take collagen every day?

10g per day of collagen is effective because this intake provides the 16% protein recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization) for an adult. To feel the benefits, taking this supplement must become a reflex.

Can you lose weight taking collagen?

The role of protein is important in helping to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Collagen is a protein and therefore has a role to play, as it will help maintain muscles in good condition while reducing the increase in body fat.

In the form of hydrolyzed collagen, it is of increasing interest to nutritionists. When combined with other proteins and a controlled diet, it helps regulate food intake and will promote weight loss, while working to maintain good muscle quality.

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