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What is collagen?

You will probably have heard that 'collagen' is great for anti-ageing, but what exactly IS collagen and how does it work?
What is collagen?

by Jayne Tramontana

September 04, 2018

What is collagen?

You will probably have heard that 'collagen' is great for anti-ageing, but what exactly IS collagen and how does it work?

September 04, 2018

What is collagen?

You may have first recognised the word 'collagen' on the front of your favourite face cream - but what exactly is it and what can it do for you?

Collagen is a powerful anti-ageing ingredient and fights against the visible signs of ageing. In the arena of ingestible beauty products, collagen is now recognised as the star player - but why?

Collagen is the largest and most abundant protein in our bodies, it's the ground substance, the structural material in the human body is collagen. It's basically the building blocks of 'us', the glue that holds us together. In fact the word 'collagen' derives from the Greek word 'koala', meaning 'glue'.

The effect of the loss of collagen on our skin is often very noticeable, collagen is a very important component and the depletion of it can cause deterioration of our skin and connective tissues. When we are young our collagen levels are at their highest. This is why our children have smooth skin and shiny hair.

When collagen becomes weaker and less substantial it begins to sag often showing as crows feet or turkey neck, what doctors would call Ptosis. This is due to collagen depletion.

Unfortunately, research shows that collagen levels begin to deplete from the tender age of 25. By the time we get to 40 we will have lost around a third of our collagen, which can cause our skin to wrinkle and sag. 

Collagen is secreted by a variety of different cells, but primarily by connective tissue cells. While young, the body consistently produces collagen but production naturally declines with age, reducing the structural integrity of the skin and leading to the formation of lines and wrinkles and sagging skin.

However, it's not just sagging skin and aesthetic properties that collagen is good for. Other benefits can be found.

Muscles; Lean muscle gain and muscle tone, collagen will help with this. You may notice your triceps are heading floorboard, this is due to collagen depletion. 

Joints: Collagen helps rebuild joints.

Organs;   As we age our organs have a floorboard tendency and begin to sag. Often women get a prolapsed uterus, a wearing of the organ due to decreased collagen production as we age. All your organs are made of collagen, even your heart and lungs, collagen also assists in arterial strengthening.

Bones; You may have heard the term ‘bone on bone’ this is when the disk between the top and bottom bones wear due to age and collagen deficiency.

Digestive tract and leaky gut; A common culprit in allergy symptoms is leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the sterile bloodstream.

Collagen helps to regulate stomach acid secretion, helping to prevent heartburn, stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions caused by an overly acidic environment

Collagen helps digestion by holding water in the intestine, helping move food through the GI tract more smoothly.

Anti-inflammatory; Hydrolysed marine collagen may have anti-inflammatory effects due to it being rich in amino acids, these amino acids also play an important role in the building of joint cartilage.

The highest percentages of amino acids found within collagen, along with some of their key benefits, include:

  • Proline:  this makes up almost 15 percent of collagen. Proline and glycine, in particular, play a major role in ensuring your body runs smoothly. Proline helps protect blood vessels, improve joint health and has cardiovascular benefits.
  • Glutamine: Considered to be one of the most important and abundant amino acids in the body, glutamine is both created within our muscles and also obtained from food sources. Glutamine is said to prevent anxiety, tension, sleep disorders/insomnia, a lack of concentration, poor digestive health, a weakened immune system and low energy. According to a report printed the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s been shown to have positive effects of production of growth hormone, which can improve aspects of mental health, such as helping with release of GABA that boosts feelings of “inner calm and tranquility.” Nitrogen, created by glutamine in high amounts, also helps with wound healing and prevents muscle wasting and joint pains.
  • Glycine: Around one-third of the protein found in collagen is glycine. While  it’s the smallest amino acid, glycine has a big effect! To ensure our cells function properly, glycine helps build healthy DNA strands. It’s also one of three amino acids that form creatine, which promotes healthy muscle growth and boosts energy production whilst working out.
  • Arginine: Arginine (also known as l'arginine) breaks down into nitric oxide within the body, which is an important compound for arterial and heart health. Arginine has also been shown to improve circulation, help strengthen the immune system and even has a positive influence on male libido!

So when it comes to collagen there is a lot to be said. However, while many creams claim to revitalise skin by adding collagen, the molecules in these topical products are usually too large for your skin to actually absorb. Through supplementation, you’ll improve your body from the inside out.

If you are looking for a collagen supplement to help with anti-ageing and other health benefits - look no further than