Collagen is the most plentiful protein in our body, making up about 30 percent of the proteins present in the body. Collagen is the fundamental structural protein that guarantees the elasticity, cohesion and strength of all the connective tissues in our body, such as, skin, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
Tissue Collegan Make Up:
- Cartilage-20% of mass
- Bone-90% organic mass
- Tendon-90% by dry weight
The amino acids which make up collagen are:
- Glycine-Makes up about 33% of collagen
- Proline-Makes up about 10% of collagen
- Hydroxyproline-Makes up about 10% of collagen
In reality, collagen is the natural ‘glue’ that clasps everything together. It reinforces various structures in the body as well the robustness of our skin. There are several different forms of collagen in our body, but 80 to 90% of them are Type I, II or III. But, majority of them are type I, and the type I collagen fibrils possess massive tensile strength, meaning they can be stretched without being severed.
Collagen contains huge amounts of the amino acids glycine, lysine, and proline. These amino acids are important for many bodily functions, such as development connective tissues, repair of connective tissues, joint surfaces and bone matrix, maintenance of hair and skin.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids. They are natural biological or artificially manufactured. Natural peptides are extremely bio-available, water soluble and digestible.
What are the musculoskeletal health benefits of collagen?
1. Collagen Peptides May Support Joint Health
Some research supports collagen dipeptides stimulatory effect on type II collagen and proteoglycan synthesis by cartilage cells. Optimal amounts of collagen and proteoglycans support a healthy cartilage extracellular matrix that arms the joint with proper shock absorbing properties and strength Additionally, glycine, a major amino acid in collagen, has been shown to inhibit inflammation stimulating cytokines. Chronic low grade inflammation is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and sarcopenia(extreme muscle wasting)
Researchers from the University of Belgium evaluated the efficacy and safety of CH supplementation in a randomized double blind study with 200 patients of both genders, aged 50 years or older, and who suffered from joint pain. For six months half of the group of subjects received a daily dose equivalent to 1,200mg of collagen dipeptides and the other half received a placebo (gel cap). At sixth months, the treatment groups pain scores improved significantly compared to the placebo group. (Bruyère O, Zegels B, Leonori I, Rabenda V, Janssen A, Bourges C, Reginster JY. Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Complement Ther Med [Internet] 2012 [acesso em 16 maio 2014];20(3):124-30.)
2. Collagen Peptides May Support Bone Health
Osteoporosis occurs when the rate of bone resorption supersedes the rate of new bone formation, resulting in overall bone loss. In animal models, supplementation with collagen dipeptides has lead to increased synthesis of type I collagen, new bone building cells referred to as osteoblasts, and increased bone mineral density.
French researchers investigated the effect of hydrolyzed collagen on a mouse model of osteoporosis. The authors found that hydrolyzed collagen increased the activity of bone building cells and the diameter of the mice’s thigh bones.(Guillerminet F, Beaupied H, Fabien-SouléV, Tomé D, Benhamou CL, Roux C, et al. A. Hydrolyzed collagen improves bone metabolism and biomechanical parameters in ovariectomized mice: an in vitro and in vivo study. Bone 2010;46(3):827-34.)
3. Collagen Peptides May Support Muscle Health
Investigators have started to better understand how collagen peptides may support muscle function, including:
- Provides rapidly absorbed amino acids that act as building blocks for new protein
- Rich source of arginine and glycine, both are important substrates for creatine synthesis
- Associated with pain reduction that allows for a more intense work out
- Improves blood flow to muscle
German researchers examined the effect of protein and collagen supplementation combined resistance training. Study subjects exhibited significant increase in fat-free mass, bone mass, quadriceps strength, and sensory motor control compared to non treatment group. (Zdzieblik et al. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition (2015), 114, 1237–1245)
Other potential health benefits of collagen
- Boosts skin and hair health
- Supports gastrointestinal health
- Boosts metabolism
Although collagen supplements are safe for the most part, some side effects may occur:
High calcium levels
According to MedicinePlus (NIH supported website), hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium) may occur due to collagen supplement intake. Collagen supplements, especially, those derived from marine sources including shell fish and shark cartilage, contain high amounts of calcium.
Collagen supplements made from some marine sources such as shell fish, may cause allergic reactions. This abnormal response of the immune system may trigger hypersensitivity reactions.
Bad taste in mouth
Collagen supplements that come from marine sources normally have an unpleasant taste and may leave bad odor in the mouth.
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