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Beyond Beauty: 3 Health Benefits of Collagen Peptides

Collagen peptides have numerous benefits for beauty, muscles and bones. However, not many people know it's also good for brain and gut health.

A woman caressing her cheeks while smiling and closing her eyes.

Several beauty trends and products have been going viral thanks to social media. One of these is collagen peptides. 

When we hear the word “collagen,” we usually associate it with skin health or an anti-ageing regimen. But did you know collagen peptides are also beneficial for other organs? 

Read on as we explore more about collagen peptides, from what they are to their advantages and ways to boost your intake! 

Collagen Peptides: What is it and How it Differs from Collagen

A girl wiping her face with the sun and trees in her background.
Collagen peptides may replace the collagen we lose due to sun exposure.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Its function is to make connective tissue, which connects other tissues in the bones, skin, muscles, tendons and cartilages. It is the component that makes those organs strong and resilient.

At the same time, our body makes less collagen as we get older. Not to mention, collagen breakdown is accelerated as we become exposed to the sun, cigarette smoke, pollution and excess alcohol. Collagen production decreases due to a lack of sleep and exercise. 

This is how collagen supplements can come in handy. Some of these supplements are available as pills, powders or drinks that need to be consumed. This kind of supplement is known as collagen peptides or hydrolysed collagen.

Collagen peptides are made from the broken-down version of collagen, so they are more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. They also contain amino acids, which are the molecules that form proteins. 

Health Benefits of Collagen Peptides 

Collagen peptides possess the same benefits as collagen. They can enhance skin condition, increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss and reduce joint pain. 

More recent studies have discovered that collagen peptides may have uses for other organs and systems. 

Improves brain health 

The human brain is the centre of the nervous system. Several scientists have researched the correlation of collagen intake with brain function. One study from Italy reports that collagen-producing cells and collagen proteins (type VI and XIX in particular) are found in the brain’s neural parenchyma – the functional tissue in charge of cognition and the rest of the body.

There is evidence that the consumption of collagen peptides can increase the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This mechanism is believed to give collagen peptides the ability to change brain structure and improve language cognitive function. The same study also mentions how collagen ingestion may help the process of forming new blood vessels after a brain injury.

By increasing your collagen intake, either with foods or supplements, you have made an effort to maintain your brain function and possibly delay cognitive decline due to ageing.

Improves gut health 

Dealing with bloating and constipation? Don’t ignore these conditions. A clinical trial published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows some results that prove collagen can reduce bloating and improve mild digestive problems.

In addition, collagen peptides can prevent further breakdown of the intestinal barrier, which helps alleviate symptoms of leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). However, it’s best to take collagen supplements as instructed.

Consuming a high dosage of collagen peptides is not recommended. A 2020 study by researchers in China shows that they could alter the gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acid metabolism. So, always take your supplements in moderation.  

Improves cardiovascular health 

Like the brain, a healthy heart consists of approximately 80% type I collagen and 10% type III collagen. A new review published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2022 determines that collagen peptides can significantly decrease the biomarkers related to cardiovascular diseases.

Other studies also support this finding. One in particular reports that collagen peptides may help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries and potentially reduce the LDL to HDL ratio. Additionally, they can decrease the body fat percentage in obese or overweight patients. These are notable risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart attack, and hypertension.

Natural Sources of Collagen 

Some serums or creams claim to contain collagen to beautify the skin. While these products can moisturise the skin, their effectiveness in boosting natural collagen production is not supported by research. Collagen is located in the deeper layers of the skin, not on the surface. As a solution, skincare products should contain larger collagen fibres to penetrate the skin’s outer layer.

As a result, applying said serums or creams may be an option for those who want to make the skin feels smoother. If you want all the benefits mentioned above, an oral collagen supplement is better.

A top view of two bowls of powder and pills with a glass of water on a wooden tray on top of a white surface.
Collagen peptides are available in the form of pills, powder or drinks.

Collagen can also be found in several ingredients or foods: 

  1. Bovine (cows, oxen, goats, sheep, bison, buffalo), especially the tough cuts of meat. They include brisket, round, chuck, shank and other parts of an animal’s body that have to work the hardest to support its weight.
  2. Offal from the stomach, tripe, tail and bone marrow of animals. 
  3. Bones and skin of salt and freshwater fishes. 
  4. Bone broth. As collagen is found in the bones of animals, which we don’t normally eat, making broth out of bones is one way to increase your collagen intake. 
  5. Gelatine. Made from boiling animal bones, cartilage and skin, gelatine is part of the paleo diet. 
  6. Poultry, eggs, dairy, legumes and soy contain amino acids. 
  7. Porcine (pork). 

Some staple ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may also help to boost collagen intake. They are bird’s nest as well as sea cucumber (hai shen, 海参), snow fungus (yin’er, 银耳), fish maw (yu du, 鱼肚), peach gum (tao jiao, 桃胶), and goji berry (gou qi, 枸杞), all of which are rich in amino acids.  

It bears remembrance that collagen peptides may not work instantly. Your body constantly loses collagen, so collagen peptides may not work instantly. Remember that everything starts with your internal health. When you combine healthy habits with collagen peptides, you will see positive and sustainable results.  

This is an adaptation of an article, “How Can Collagen Peptides Benefit Your Body?”, which first appeared on All Things Health US website.

References

  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 2021. Collagen. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  2. National Center of Biotechnology Information. 2020. Effects of Collagen Hydrolysates on Human Brain Structure and Cognitive Function: A Pilot Clinical Study. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  3. Science Direct. 2020. Effect of a high-collagen peptide diet on the gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acid metabolism. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  4. Cambridge University Press. 2022. Effects of Collagen Peptide Supplementation on Cardiovascular Markers: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  5. National Center of Biotechnology Information. 2019. Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  6. Science Direct. 2019. Extraction and characterization of collagen from sea cucumber (Holothuria cinerascens) and its potential application in moisturizing cosmetics. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  7. Research Gate. 2020. Chemical compounds and health benefits of Tremella, a valued mushroom as both cuisine and medicine in ancient China and modern era. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  8. National Center of Biotechnology Information. 2022. Health Benefits and Applications of Goji Berries in Functional Food Products Development: A Review. [Accessed 24 June 2022]
  9. National Library of Medicine. 2021. Collagen proteins are found also within the neural parenchyma in the healthy CNS. [Accessed 8 July 2022]
  10. JMIR Publications. 2022. Effect of a Daily Collagen Peptide Supplement on Digestive Symptoms in Healthy Women: 2-Phase Mixed Methods Study. [Accessed 8 July 2022]
  11. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2017. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. [Accessed 8 July 2022]
  12. National Library of Medicine. 2017. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. [Accessed 8 July 2022]
  13. National Library of Medicine. 2016. Aging and the cardiac collagen matrix: Novel mediators of fibrotic remodelling. [Accessed 8 July 202]

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