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Collagen Drink for Skin and Beauty

We’ve all heard about collagen, referred by many as the fountain of youth. After more than a decade since collagen burst into the mainstream health and beauty line, there is still so much doubt about what collagen can do.

For centuries, women in China have consumed collagen derived from pig’s feet, shark’s fin and donkey skin because they believed that it could smooth wrinkles and stop the aching of joints. In the commercialised world today, processed collagen can be presented in powder, liquid and even gummy form.

Understanding collagen

We are no strangers to the cosmetic effects of collagen, but do you really understand the structure of collagen and its absorption mechanism?

Collagen is a fibrous protein in the human connective tissue. It is widely present in our skin, hair, joints, blood vessels, and gums. It has the characteristics of adhesion and support, accounting for about 25 to 35% of our total body protein.

The most basic structure of collagen is composed of three amino acids (which makes up protein parts): 

  1. Glycine
  2. Hydroxylysine
  3. Hydroxyproline

When the human body digests protein, it has to first break down protein into the basic amino acid form before it can be absorbed. If collagen is not changed to amino acid, the body's digestive tract cannot digest the structure. Therefore, collagen needs to be present in a smaller, hydrolysed form or else consuming collagen will be wasted. 

In simple terms, your body understands and absorbs hydrolysed collagen, not collagen in its original form.

Do collagen drinks really work?

Collagen drinks primarily present a hydrolysed version of collagen. We know that collagen on its own does not work wonders for our body because its structure is too complex to be digested. 

To know if collagen drinks really work, we need to look at results based on studies and research.  

A blind, randomised, crossover study was done by Nutrients to determine the absorption of hydrolysed collagen in the body. It was found that taking the hydrolysed collagen was absorbed after 20 minutes, faster than the one that is not hydrolysed. 

Another study by Nutrients was conducted on 72 healthy women aged 35 and older to test if a certain hydrolysed collagen drink could improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness and density. They received either the hydrolysed collagen supplement or a placebo for twelve weeks. A thorough skin assessment was done before and after to see if there was any improvement on their skin. 

It was found that those who took the collagen supplement had significantly improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density. 

If you’re still wondering whether hydrolysed collagen drinks work? From studies, we find that the answer is yes.

What collagen is best for the skin?

Hydrolysed marine collagen works best for the skin. If you want to know why, we’ll have a look at two ways to classify collagen. One is to look at the source, and another is to look at the type.

There are generally two sources of collagen, animal and marine. The molecular structure of marine collagen (predominantly fish) is most similar to that of humans. Compared with other animals, fish collagen is absorbed better. Studies have also shown that the absorption of fish collagen is 1.5 times higher than that of porcine collagen.

Currently, there are 28 types of known collagen. However, five types are considered more ‘important’.

  1. Type I collagen is prized for its anti-ageing properties. 90% of our body is made up of type I collagen, and it is a fibrous protein that works best to minimise wrinkles and improves the skin’s hydration levels.
  2. Type II collagen is known to assist joint health and rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. Type III improves the muscle, organs and blood vessels. It is the most prevalent in our body after type I collagen.
  4. Type IV is present  in different layers of the skin, acting as building blocks. It is crucial for wound healing.
  5. Type V is found on some layers of the skin and the cornea of our eyes.

With knowledge of the different types of collagen, Nick Bitz, MD, a licensed, board-certified naturopathic doctor and collagen expert said that knowing collagen types are not as crucial as making sure they are hydrolysed. He states that the smaller the protein is, the easier it is for your body to digest and use. For those who are looking to take collagen, he advises taking supplements instead of eating it as it is.

If you are particular about the collagen type in order to consume for better skin, Type I is best, and it is found in abundance in hydrolysed marine collagen.

What does collagen do to your face?

Collagen plays a huge part when it comes to skin health and appearance. The human body can synthesise collagen itself under conditions of sufficient vitamin C and protein nutrition. However, as age increases, the rate of collagen synthesis slows down, resulting in loss of collagen and skin problems. Skin tissue becomes dry and rough. Wrinkles, sun spots and large pores start to appear. 

To prevent this situation, we need to supplement collagen in time to make up for the loss. 

An open-label study was conducted to investigate the outcome of hydrolysed collagen on skin. A group of women were given a supplement consisting of hydrolysed collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and minerals; developed to counteract signs of ageing. They had to consume it for 60 days. 

After the 60 days, their skin was examined, and it was found that their skin showed a reduction in skin dryness, wrinkles, and nasolabial fold depth. A significant increase in collagen density and skin firmness was also seen. All this, without cosmetic surgery!

Hydrolysed collagen acts as a youth elixir to plump the skin, reduce wrinkles and bring life back to dull and worn skin.

Will collagen help sagging skin?

As we age, the skin produces less collagen to hold up cells. The gradual loss of skin elasticity will lead to the skin sagging (also thanks to gravity). It is natural to think that when we are losing something that seems negative, we need to supplement it in order to maintain or improve it.

Though that may not be true on all matters related to science, there seems to be a positive effect when it comes to reinforcing hydrolysed collagen into the body.

In a study conducted by the Department of Dermatology, the University of Kiel, 69 women aged 35-55 years were separated into three groups. Each group was given one of three treatments. One was given 2.5g of collagen, the second 5.0g of collagen and the third a placebo for eight weeks. Skin elasticity, skin moisture, water loss and skin roughness of the women were measured before the first oral product was taken.

After eight weeks, results show that skin elasticity in both groups taking collagen showed a statistically significant improvement in comparison to placebo. However, the two different dosages didn’t show a significant difference.

There is no doubt that collagen has the potential to tighten and slightly lift sagging skin. The results may be subtle, but it works anyway. 

How can I rebuild collagen in my face?

If you think the collagen on your skin (especially in the face) is slowly depleting, you can change your diet and lifestyle to rebuild collagen. There are a few ways to boost collagen levels, but let’s look at ones you can consume through your diet or via supplements.

1. Hyaluronic acid is a compound that attracts hydration. It can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. For those who are looking to hydrate their skin, hyaluronic acid is a miracle worker.

Hyaluronic acid, like collagen, is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It is said to improve the interaction between cells and promote collagen synthesis. Ageing slows down the production of hyaluronic acid. When the production of hyaluronic slows down, the synthesis of collagen cannot happen.

One way to build collagen is to eat food that is rich in compounds that can make hyaluronic acid. Consider adding foods rich in amino acids like soy-based products, green leafy vegetables and beans. You can also take hyaluronic acid as a supplement.

2. Vitamin C is one of the most valued vitamins in the body because the body cannot make it on its own. Therefore, we need to incorporate it into our diet. Indian Dermatology Online Journal found that vitamin C plays a crucial role when it comes to protecting the skin from free radicals and creating more collagen.

Preclinical studies published by Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine showed that vitamin C increases type I collagen synthesis in the body, one that helps minimise fine lines through the improvement of skin elasticity and hydration. Vitamin C is relatively easy to incorporate into our diet. You can start with citrus fruits, strawberries, guavas and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C supplements are also widely available in the market.

What makes the best collagen drink?

When shopping around for collagen supplements, it is important to note the ingredients in it. Here’s what you should look out for:

Hydrolysed Collagen - Collagen on its own is a very big compound, too big for our systems to absorb it. If you are taking collagen as collagen, it is highly likely that you are wasting it. Hydrolysed collagen, however, is one where its complex compound has been broken down into dissolvable amino acids. An extensive study on hydrolysed collagen showed that it enhances moisture absorption, dermal thickness, skin firmness and elasticity.

Marine Collagen - Both bovine (beef) and marine collagen are good but, the latter is preferred because of a few reasons:

  • It dissolves easily in water, making it easier for you to consume it.
  • It is packed with type I collagen. As you already know, a majority of the collagen in our body is type I collagen, and it helps with improving the skin texture and reducing fine lines.
  • Our body absorbs it easily. Marine collagen is 1.5 times more absorbent than bovine collagen because of its low-enough molecular weight.

Hyaluronic Acid - You want the collagen you consume to work on your skin. To improve the power of hydrolysed collagen, a supplement that contains hyaluronic acid that helps synthesise collagen will improve the outcome. 

Antioxidants - Free radicals bind with extra electron atoms on the skin, making it age. Therefore, you need antioxidants to bind to the free radicals first, so it does not get to your skin. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E.

If you find these elements in the collagen drink you are looking to purchase, it is safe to say that you are in good hands. A good option would be Nature’s Farm ® Korean Collagen Drink. It contains fish scale-extracted collagen along with hyaluronic acid, elastin peptide and antioxidants.

Can I take collagen and vitamin C together?

Hydrolysed collagen can be broken down after it is eaten. However, it must first enter the bloodstream and penetrate the dermal layer of the skin through the micro vessels to stimulate cell growth. In this formation process, collagen must be supplemented with vitamin C to promote the formation and absorption of collagen. Therefore, while eating collagen foods, it is also necessary to consume enough vitamin C. 

How much collagen is needed daily?

To save you the hassle of unnecessary mathematics, you can check the label of the collagen supplement you bought. There will be a daily recommended collagen intake. If you don’t see results after a few weeks, you could perhaps slowly increase the amount. The reason why some people may not see results after a few weeks is because of the state of your body. 

Japanese scholars and health food industry professionals recommend taking a daily dose of 5000 mg although that depends on age and condition. For example, older people need to consume 10,000 to 15,000 milligrams to achieve the best results.

If this is your first time taking daily collagen supplements, starting at 12,000 milligrams is good enough. After that, you will be able to gauge how much your body needs. 

If you are worried about side effects, it has been reported to have caused diarrhoea and stomach discomfort like bloating. If you experience any of these side effects, do see your doctor.

As with everything else, collagen supplements are supposed to be taken in moderation. Excessive ingestion over some time may cause other minor side effects like heartburn. If your family has a history of developing kidney stones, you should start with a lower dosage of around 5,000 milligrams.

Incorporating collagen into your daily life

It doesn't matter if you are young or old, collagen plays a role in your overall health; from the bones right to the surface of your skin. 

If you desire to follow an anti-aging routine, you could start by taking hydrolysed collagen. Dilute the it in your water or add the supplement solution into your smoothie. There are no conclusive studies on when is the best time to take your collagen, so we suggest taking it on an empty stomach at your preferred time of the day, so it digests first before being filled with food.

References

HumanN. 2020. What Are The Different Types Of Collagen? And Which Types Of Collagen Will Benefit You Most? | Humann. [online] Available at: <https://www.humann.com/nutrition/different-types-of-collagen/#section2> [Accessed 24 June 2020].

Laurence, E., 2020. Types Of Collagen: Which One Is Best For You? | Well+Good. [online] Well+Good. Available at: <https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/different-types-of-collagen-benefits-explained/> [Accessed 24 June 2020].

Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J. and Voss, W. (2019). A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients, 11(10), p.2494.

DePhillipo, N.N., Aman, Z.S., Kennedy, M.I., Begley, J.P., Moatshe, G. and LaPrade, R.F. (2018). Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, [online] 6(10), p.232596711880454. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2325967118804544.

Kalumi. (n.d.). How Much Collagen Should I Take? [online] Available at: https://kalumibeauty.com/blogs/in-the-glow/how-much-collagen-should-i-take [Accessed 25 Jun. 2020].

León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V.M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D.I. and Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications. Molecules, 24(22), p.4031.

Morse, N. (2020). Marine Collagen is Better Than Beef Collagen - And Here’s Why. [online] Bend Beauty. Available at: https://www.bendbeauty.com/difference-between-fish-and-bovine-collagen/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2020].

Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M., Zague, V. and Oesser, S. (2014). Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, [online] 27(1), pp.47–55. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23949208/ [Accessed 31 Dec. 2019].

Sibilla, S. and Borumand, M. (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, [online] 9, p.1747. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2020].

Skov, K., Oxfeldt, M., Thøgersen, R., Hansen, M. and Bertram, H.C. (2019). Enzymatic Hydrolysis of a Collagen Hydrolysate Enhances Postprandial Absorption Rate—A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, [online] 11(5). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566347/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2020].

Telang, P. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal, [online] 4(2), p.143. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673383/ [Accessed 25 Jun. 2020].

www.medicalnewstoday.com. (2017). 8 ways to stimulate collagen production in skin. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317151#Myths-about-boosting-collagen [Accessed 24 Jun. 2020].

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