Many people are worried and anxious about getting older. Aging is, for some people, a feeling of gloom and hopelessness. Many people associate this natural process with a loss of beauty, strength, and health. The simple fact is, aging is inevitable. It is something that science cannot reverse or stop. Fortunately, there are ways that exist to improve the natural aging process, so that you can enter your twilight years with grace.
Collagen is an essential part of the structure of human tissues. It gives the musculoskeletal system strength and resistance while providing the skin with elasticity and youth. As you get older, this substance is no longer naturally produced by the body to the level required, so a collagen supplement in your later years is a way that you can stay healthier for longer.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Collagen
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about collagen
- 4.1 What is collagen?
- 4.2 What are the consequences of low collagen?
- 4.3 Why do we lose collagen?
- 4.4 What foods contribute to my collagen levels?
- 4.5 How can vegetarians increase their collagen levels?
- 4.6 What are the benefits of a collagen supplement?
- 4.7 What types of collagen supplements exist?
- 4.8 Are there any vegan collagen supplements?
- 4.9 How do I take a collagen supplement?
- 4.10 Are there any adverse effects of a collagen supplement?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Collagen is a necessary protein for maintaining the integrity of body tissues.
- Taking collagen supplements can replace a lack of this protein in the body. Low collagen levels may be due to aging, poor diet, stress or other toxins.
- Collagen supplements are safe and there are virtually no side effects. In rare cases, this supplement can alter blood calcium levels.
Our Selection: The Best Collagen
The following ranking contains the five best collagen supplement products available on the market. When creating this list, we took into account the effectiveness of the product, the value for money and the feedback of hundreds of consumers. By doing this, we have made the research process far easier for you so that you can compare the best products on the market and decide which one best suits you.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about collagen
Collagen is a naturally produced protein that holds your body tissues (especially skin and joint tissue) together. As you grow older, the production of this protein gradually decreases until it is no longer produced by the body. At the skin level, a reduction in collagen levels in the body will be visible in the appearance of expression lines. At the musculoskeletal level, bone and joint pains will be more frequent when collagen levels are low.
What is collagen?
Collagen is an essential part of the body tissues that make up to twenty-five percent of your body mass. This special protein is common in connective tissues of the body (skin, bones, and joints). There are up to twenty-one different types of collagen molecules that exist in the body. The most important collagen molecules are listed and explained in the table below:
|Type I||Skin, bones, tendons, teeth, and cornea||Resistance to stretching and maintenance of the skin.|
|Type II||Cartilage||Resistance to pressure and maintenance of joints.|
|Type III||Blood vessels, skin, and glands||Supports organs and skin elasticity.|
|Type V||Interstitial tissue (connective tissue) and placenta||Integrity of tissues and maintenance of placenta.|
|Type X||Bones and joints||Integrity of bones and joints.|
The difference between the many types of collagen can be seen in the small variations in molecular assembly and the binding process of other substances to the amino acids, lysine, glycine, and proline. To explain this with an example; type I collagen fibers are much thicker than type II collagen fibers, allowing them to provide greater resistance to skin, bones, and tendons.
When a human reaches the age of twenty-five, natural collagen production begins to decline. This is evident with the first lines of expression appearing on the face. Beyond the age of sixty, it is believed that the natural creation of this protein falls to fifty percent. This results in the appearance of wrinkles and the weakening of the structure of tendons, bones, and joints.
What are the consequences of low collagen?
- Expression lines and wrinkles: Collagen in the body gives the skin elasticity and structure. A reduction in the collagen levels in the body will directly affect the firmness of the skin, this, in turn, will accelerate the appearance of wrinkles. Skin will tend to hang down loosely if there is a lack of collagen in the body.
- Dark circles and tired appearance: Collagen fibers help to maintain volume and colour in the face. Low collagen will increase the visibility of the venous capillaries that pass under the eyes and cause the appearance of dark circles. In addition, a collagen deficiency will produce a thinning of the face, especially around the areas of the cheeks.
- Gum thinning: Collagen plays a vital role in maintaining dental health by properly anchoring the teeth to the gums. A lack of this protein will cause a retraction of the gum tissues, which may cause pain and tooth sensitivity to cold or heat. In extreme cases of collagen deficiency, a person may even experience tooth loss.
- Fine and dull hair: When collagen levels are low, the supply of required nutrients to the hair follicles will be affected and hair quality will be significantly affected. This will result in hair with less volume and a rough texture. In extreme cases, it may also result in hair loss.
- Cellulite: Most people associate the appearance of cellulite (more frequent in women) with an increase of fat in the body. The truth is that cellulite is the result of the pressure of subcutaneous fat (mainly thighs and buttocks) on thin and inelastic skin. As a result, a reduction of collagen in the body will favour the appearance of cellulite, even in thin people.
- Joint pain: Articular cartilage, made up largely of collagen, protects the joints from impact and constant rubbing. A decrease in the levels of collagen can cause a thinning of the cartilage, which will result in joint pain.
- Muscle aches: Collagen is also used by the body to connect muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons to bones. The loss of collagen will weaken these natural connections within the body, making muscle injuries more frequent and cause muscle pain.
- Loss of mobility: If low collagen levels cause damage to body tissues, there may be a loss or reduction in the ability to move freely. Loss of mobility as a result of low collagen is serious but infrequent. It usually occurs in people with certain diseases (such as lupus) in which the destruction of collagen is increased.
- Increased intestinal issues: Our intestinal walls allow the absorption of nutrients from the diet while preventing the passage of toxins and microorganisms. A drop in collagen levels will favour the entrance of harmful substances into the intestine, which may cause diarrhoea, constipation, difficulty absorbing nutrients and difficulty concentrating.
Why do we lose collagen?
- Aging: Over time, the imbalance between collagen and collagenase increases. The production of natural collagen slowly decreases with aging. This process is inevitable, although studies have shown that a healthy lifestyle can delay collagen degradation. This is why leading a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising is always recommended.
- Menopause: The loss of collagen has been observed to be more noticeable in postmenopausal women. The decrease in estrogen levels that affect mature women impacts skin composition and joints, which lose strength and elasticity.
- Pollution: Living in highly polluted areas (near factories, highways or industrial areas) exposes the body to toxins that impact the collagen assembly.
- Smoking: The combustion products and chemicals released by smoking tobacco or cigarettes directly damages the structure of the elastin molecules (another connective tissue protein) and collagen. These two components form part of the structure of the skin and their loss favours the appearance of wrinkles, pimples, and acne. Tobacco also stimulates collagenase activity (the enzyme that destroys collagen).
- UV exposure: Excessive ultraviolet radiation from the sun alters and weakens the molecules that form collagen proteins. The skin will naturally attempt to repair this damage by increasing the production of elastin molecules. This will give the skin a tougher, more leathery appearance.
- Refined sugar: Refined sugar that is found in most processed food attaches to collagen molecules in the body and produces degenerative changes to their structure. This process increases collagen loss and weakens the structure of tissues. This affects the overall appearance of the skin.
- Diseases: There are many diseases (e.g. lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) that directly affect collagen production and cause an imbalance between collagen and collagenase levels. This is an aspect that is usually uncontrollable but may be a result of an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. smoking, excessive alcohol, poor diet or lack of exercise).
- Unbalanced diets: Diets that are low in amino acids (especially glycine, lysine, and proline) will negatively affect collagen synthesis. People who have an unbalanced diet will have weaker and visibly older skin as a result of collagen loss.
- Vitamin C deficiency: Vitamin C is a crucial component for the production of collagen. Its deficiency directly affects the body's ability to produce collagen.
The type of diet you have will be a determining factor of collagen levels, particularly in the case of vegans and strict vegetarians. Those who do not eat meat will need to eat a balanced and varied diet that allows their body access to the necessary amino acids required for collagen synthesis. On the other hand, those who eat meat regularly will be able to obtain collagen directly from meat products.
What foods contribute to my collagen levels?
However, other medical practitioners state that it is possible to absorb part of the ingested collagen molecules through eating meat. They say that obtaining collagen directly from eating meat products will function more quickly and reinforce the structure of cartilage, muscle, and bone in the human body. In the following table we breakdown a list of the foods that are the richest in collagen:
|Food (100 grams)||Collagen content (grams)|
|Eel (with skin)||5.5|
|Veal tendons and cartilage||5|
|Salmon (with skin)||2.5|
There are no clear recommendations from doctors or nutritionists as to the recommended daily amount of collagen to be obtained through a diet. However, previous studies have shown a beneficial effect on the skin (reduction of the appearance of wrinkles and improvement of overall appearance) from a daily intake of 5 grams of collagen.
How can vegetarians increase their collagen levels?
|Nutrient||Relationship to collagen||Food|
|Prolina||Part of the collagen structure||Cheese, milk, egg white, and mustard seeds.|
|Lysine||Part of the collagen structure||Tofu, pinto beans, black beans, tempeh (traditional Indonesian soy product), and quinoa.|
|Glycine||Part of the collagen structure||Spinach, algae (spirulina, chlorella), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and soybeans.|
|Vitamin C||Activates synthesis from simple amino acids||Citrus, tropical fruits, green leafy vegetables, kale, and red pepper.|
|Anthocyanins (flavonoids)||Prevents premature oxidation||Blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant.|
|Vitamin A||Prevents premature oxidation||Carrot, kale, pumpkin, and sweet potato.|
|Zinc||Necessary for collagen synthesis||Wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa, and chickpeas.|
A balanced intake of other important amino acids (such as arginine) and additional minerals (such as manganese) will also increase collagen production within the body. Doctors generally recommend that a balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will provide all the nutrients needed for collagen production.
Strict vegans and vegetarians, however, should pay attention to their proline intake. This amino acid is scarce in plant products, so it can be difficult to consume quantities that make a difference. Fortunately, this nutrient is a non-essential amino acid, which can be found in other molecules (such as glutamine).
What are the benefits of a collagen supplement?
- Improved appearance of wrinkles and fine lines: A group of women between 35 and 65 years of age took a collagen supplement of 5 grams once a day. Skin elasticity in these women significantly improved after eight weeks of treatment. In those women between the ages of 45 and 65, a decrease in wrinkles around the eyes was also observed after the same period.
- Cellulite reduction: Another study examined a group of women aged 24 to 50 who consumed 2.5 grams of collagen each day. After six months of taking the supplement, both a reduction in cellulite on the thighs and an increase in the firmness of the skin on the legs were observed.
- Improvement of pain associated with osteoarthritis: There have been studies that have shown a daily intake of 10 grams of type II collagen in people with osteoarthritis has the ability to relieve joint pain. It has been said that collagen supplements can reduce pain with an effect similar to that of paracetamol. In addition, the collagen supplement produced an improvement in the mobility of the joints of these people.
- Improved bone density in people with osteoporosis: There are studies that show taking collagen supplements can prevent and treat the loss of bone density. This helps to make bones stronger.
- Improvement of joint pain in athletes: Young athletes who consumed 10 grams of collagen over six months experienced a decrease in joint pain after vigorous physical training.
- Protection of intestinal balance: People that are affected by chronic diseases of the intestinal tract (such as Crohn's disease) have been found to have low levels of collagen. These findings have led experts to propose taking collagen supplements as a treatment to restore the balance of the digestive system.
- Improved digestion: Collagen supplements contain a good source of the amino acid glycine. This is a molecule that has been linked to increased production of stomach acids. These acids promote digestion of food if the collagen supplement is taken one hour before meals.
- Lower cholesterol and better sugar control: Collagen supplements have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and stimulate insulin production. This can result in an overall improvement in the metabolic levels in the body.
The greatest beneficiaries of taking a collagen supplement will be women who wish to stop or slow down the effects of aging. A daily collagen supplement will also be beneficial for older adults (men and women) seeking a solution to their joint pain, young athletes who train daily and people that are affected by intestinal or metabolic disorders.
What types of collagen supplements exist?
- Collagen type I and type III: Supplements containing high concentrations of collagen type I and III will improve a person's overall appearance. Include this supplement into your daily routine if you want to minimise the appearance of expression lines, improve the appearance of your hair and nails, promote blood circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- Collagen type II: These supplements are recommended if you want to improve the state of your joints, bones, and tendons. Older people and professional athletes will benefit greatly from this supplement. You will also find "traditional" collagen supplements that contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides. Hydrolyzed products contain molecules that are smaller and are absorbed easier by the body. These supplements dissolve easily in liquids (hot or cold) and can be added to any beverage (such as coffee or juice) to simplify consumption.
Are there any vegan collagen supplements?
How do I take a collagen supplement?
|Desired effect||Type||Dose||Time of day|
|General health||Any||5 grams/day||Breakfast|
|Reduction of wrinkles||Collagen I and III||2.5 - 5 grams/day||One hour before eating or two hours after the last meal.|
|Cellulite reduction||Collagen I and III||2.5 - 5 grams/day||One hour before eating or two hours after the last meal.|
|Improve hair and nails||Collagen I and III||10 - 15 grams/day||One hour before eating or two hours after the last meal.|
|Relief of gastrointestinal problems||Any||10 - 15 grams/day||One hour before main meals.|
|Reduce osteoarticular pain||Type II||10 - 30 grams/day||One hour before eating or two hours after the last meal.|
|Post-training muscle recovery||Type II||10 - 30 grams/day||One hour before eating or two hours after the last meal.|
Remember to be patient with these supplements as the effect does not happen overnight. Results will begin to appear after a few weeks of commencing a collagen supplement regime. However, you will need to wait between two and six months to receive all the benefits of a collagen supplement. This time period is particularly true if you are trying to reduce the appearance wrinkles or cellulite.
Are there any adverse effects of a collagen supplement?
A rise in blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia) may occur from taking a collagen supplement. If you experience severe fatigue, nausea, vomiting or heart palpitations whilst taking a collagen supplement that cannot be explained by any other illness, immediately stop the supplement and seek medical assistance immediately.
People who take calcium supplements (as a medical recommendation or as a nutritional supplement), diabetics, and individuals taking cholesterol medication should consult their doctor before taking collagen supplements. These are the people that are most likely to experience adverse effects from an increase in collagen levels.
The effect of collagen supplements on the health and wellbeing of children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is unclear. Therefore, to stay on the side of caution, collagen supplements are not recommended for these groups.
The quality of collagen supplements is variable and a wide variety of products exist on the market. With so many options available, it can be very difficult to determine which are the valuable products. To choose a collagen supplement that meets all your expectations and is a high-quality product, pay close attention to the following purchase criteria:
- Allergies and intolerances
- Additional ingredients
- Form of administration
- Value for money
Allergies and intolerances
When purchasing a collagen supplement, it is imperative that you know the origin of the collagen in the supplement. It is possible that this protein is from the bones and tendons of cows, pigs, chickens or different species of marine animals. These elements (especially those derived directly from fish or shellfish) can result in extremely dangerous allergic reactions in some people.
In addition, it is rare but possible, that collagen supplements contain gluten, lactose, soya or traces of nuts. If you are unable to consume any of these ingredients, select a product that is made by a reputable manufacturer that can provide you with all the safety guarantees and clearly lists the contents of the supplement on the product label.
Marine collagen powder supplements may have a seaweed or fishy taste that can be quite unpleasant. Some people like to mix their supplement powder with fruit juice to mask the taste. We recommend choosing a supplement with a neutral taste. Look for products that are advertised as unflavoured, as these can be easily mixed in with your favourite drink without changing the taste.
Stay well away from any supplements that contain artificial additives, sweeteners, and flavourings. These unnatural compounds increase the likelihood of intestinal discomfort or allergic reactions. If you are diabetic (or you are trying to lose or control your weight) do not buy any collagen products that contain sugars.
Collagen supplements are often sold in combination with other supplements or nutrients. Some of these compounds, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and magnesium, enhance the performance of collagen in the body and increase the effectiveness of the supplement. It is recommended to choose products that contain collagen mixed with other supplements.
In stark contrast, branched amino acids, coenzyme Q10, glucosamine, and arginine are ingredients that should not be included in a collagen supplement. Unfortunately, these ingredients are not able to increase the benefits of collagen and work best as separate supplements. Buying these supplements that are combined with collagen is not recommended.
Form of administration
Collagen supplements are available in many different formats to suit the needs of every type of consumer. Before deciding on a specific form of collagen, we recommend learning the key advantages and disadvantages that characterise each format. Take a close look at the following information when it comes to the forms of administration:
- Capsules: This format makes transporting and storing your collagen supplements very easy. People who have difficulty swallowing tablets should look for soft capsules or small pills.
- Powder: Powdered collagen is always mixed with liquids (preferably water, although it can be mixed in with coffee, juice or smoothies). This format is great because it allows you to choose an individual dose for each person. Keep in mind that the packaging of powdered supplements usually takes up a lot of space in the pantry.
- Liquid: Liquid collagen is absorbed quickly and is very convenient to drink. However, liquid collagen is much more expensive than the previous two formats and should be kept in the refrigerator, occupying precious fridge space.
Value for money
Don't forget that collagen supplements must be taken continuously for at least two months before you notice visible results. You will benefit by buying in bulk or special promotions. If you are planning on purchasing multiple collagen supplements at once, keep in mind that liquid collagen deteriorates faster than powder or capsules.
Collagen supplements are an extremely safe and effective option to fight the most common aesthetic problems and the dreaded the aging process. This wonderful nutrient allows you to combat cellulite, wrinkles, joint pains, and intestinal discomfort. This is a supplement that is readily available online and comes in capsules, powder and liquid format.
It is impossible to stop the aging process. However, significant advances in supplements allow humans to mature with grace and healthily. Taking a collagen supplement may be your way of keeping weakness and fragility at bay that you may experience as you get older. Thanks to collagen supplements, your older years don't have to be without your youthful looks or your mobility.
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