There is a reason collagen has been the top health trending search in 2018. It is “the one” supplement to be on at the moment and has made many media appearances across TV, radio and print as of late. What does it do? How does it work? How to pick between different supplements? Our aim here is to educate as to what collagen is used for, how it helps and what is the evidence out there that supports it’s use as a daily supplement.
Before we delve into this it’s important to point out that this blog is not meant to replace a visit to, or advice from, a health professional. Our aim here at Matakana Pharmacy is ensure that you are informed as much as possible before you decide to enquire for further knowledge.
Collagen, or to be exact, collagen peptides (collagen in smaller bite sized chunks) has been recommended by nutritionists as an integral part of diet to any of whom want to attain benefits in the fields of skin, nail and hair beauty but also joint integrity and arthritis management. Why is collagen recommended for this? Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is found as a vital component of skin, hair, cartilage, tendons, bone and joints. When we work hard, especially if the workout is rigorous (runners, F45 members, builders and rugby players listen up!) this leads to much of the collagen produced by our bodies to be broken down. Also as we age, our collagen stores decrease by around 1-2% per year. Furthermore, environmental factors like sun exposure, high sugar diets and smoking all break down collagen. This all leads to premature ageing. What this means for the skin is that it increases wrinkles, stretch marks and skin damage and in joints, loss of cushioning, shock absorption and cartilage leading to inflammation and pain. So taking extra steps to supplement collagen as part of a daily diet in order to replace and replenish is important. Why do we recommend supplementation and not just through food/dietary sources? After all bone marrow for example is an extremely rich source of collagen. Well, Collagen in this form, when digested it is a relatively large molecule and because of it’s size it is hard for the human gut to absorb in this natural form. Certain companies such as Adashiko, a New Zealand owned company leading the world in collagen supplement bio-technology at the moment, break down the collagen that they source (from animal sources from Japan) into collagen peptides AKA super collagen (smaller collagen blocks) and then hydrolyse it – a reaction that further enhances it’s absorption majorly increasing it’s uptake by the human gut**. This increases how much benefit you get from your collagen! Once absorbed into our blood stream it is delivered to our skin and joints. Once we strengthen our collagen network from inside this allows it to hold more water content. For the skin, this means vastly enhanced hydration and moisture which aids with premature ageing of the skin, wrinkles, increasing elasticity which all translates into a radiant and youthful texture and tone. This has been shown to be effective when taken as a high daily dose. Collagen is made of amino acids (protein building blocks) including glycine and proline. This is essential for a healthy gut lining, strong immunity and muscle building.
Clinical trials run over the past decade have shown promising evidence for collagen supplementation. For example, a trial in 2015 published in the Journal of Cosmetology portrayed that taking collagen supplements for 8 weeks SIGNIFICANTLY increased skin hydration and this heightened collagen density benefit persisted 12 weeks AFTER the trial. Anther trial, 250 people with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomised and given hydrolysed collagen while some were given placebo. Those who received collagen reported a greater reduction in pain compared to those that received the placebo. With no cure for Osteoarthritis, as health professionals we try manage the disease by focusing on reducing pain, maintaining mobility and minimizing disability.
A collaborative review of the literature regarding the use of hydrolysed collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis which pooled results across many clinical trials concluded that a growing body of evidence provides a rationale for the use of collagen-hydrolysate for patients with Osteo-arthritis to help manage it’s symptoms better.
On a side note, Vitamin C is a supplement worth mentioning in conjunction with collagen as the two are linked. Vitamin C plays an essential role in the creation of collagen, and in itself protects the skin from oxidation damage which can be brought about by chemicals or toxins in the environment/diet and can accelerate premature ageing. Hence why a premium collagen supplement will create a formulation that combines the two ingredients in order to achieve that added benefit.
Tips for when considering to buy a collagen product:
- Type of collagen available in the product. Is it collagen peptides that are hydrolysed or not. (Harder to absorb if the collagen is not in this form, which means lower benefit and higher risk of stomach upset – not absorbing it means it stays behind to irritate the gut, hence why foods like bone marrow are notorious for the tummy aches!).
- Collagen form? Is it a powder or a capsule? Powders will always be superior in terms of its absorption as well as being in a liquid carrier (once mixed) meaning it gets to where it needs to go faster.
- Co-factors? These are ingredients that will help the collagen do it’s job better. While pure collagen is preferred by some people, premium collagen joint formulations will contain other anti-inflammatory or joint protective ingredients, whilst collagen formulations for beauty should be paired with vitamin C and other supplements to maximise it’s effect. This gives you a better health outcome and saves you having to buy multiple supplements.
- Odour and taste? Unpleasant taste or odour is a massive obstacle for some people in taking supplements and what is the point of buying a supplement if you’re not going adhere to taking it because of odour or taste. The most premium collagen powders on the market will be both odourless and tasteless and be stabilised towards heat so you can mix it in with your cold smoothie or your hot coffee.
Summary & Recommendation
Collagen is good for your skin elasticity, health and anti-ageing. Multiple bodies of evidence show it has a role in helping with osteoarthritis symptoms in joints and ligaments.
Our Favourite Collagen powder on the market is Adashiko Collagen. Adashiko provides collagen in it’s most absorbable form (peptide, hydrolysed in a very small molecular size – 3000 daltons) as a odourless/tasteless powder. This can be added to any cold/hot beverage or food so whether you sprinkle on top of your muesli or in your coffee you still benefit from that increased absorption. As a leading Japanese company in collagen supplements we believe this provides the cleanest most absorbable form of collagen on the market at the moment. This does not mean that other makes/brands are non-beneficial but on a scale of what’s best, after analysing several leading brands, if we were to take one personally, stick it in our pantry, this is it! Their joint formulation adds value by providing daily doses of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and hyaluronic acid in one convenient to take powder. Their Ultra formulation used for skin benefits contains Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, CoQ10 and Elastin. This provides the ultimate multi-dimensional support for repair, strengthening and anti-ageing support. How do all these ingredients help further in their own unique ways? Pop into Matakana Pharmacy and give us the pleasure of explaining. Education is key!
*Unfortunately collagen is sourced from animal sources only (bovine/marine/swine) and therefore is a non-vegan supplement. To those who choose to not take collagen for dieatary reasons we offer a free consultation on what we can do to help achieve similar results using vegan-friendly remedies and regimens. Pop in for a chat!
**The writer of this blog is not in paid or unpaid partnership with any brands mentioned and speaks from a non-biased professional platform critically comparing what is available on the market.
Study References on Collagen: