Collagen is an important protein in our body. It serves to stabilize and strengthen many body organs. The body itself produces a lot of collagen. However, collagen can also be consumed in various forms. The intake serves cosmetic as well as medical approaches.
Collagen is found in food supplements but also in natural foods. In addition to oral intake, collagen can be absorbed into the body through cosmetic products such as creams or shampoos. Depending on where they are used, cosmetic products have a less intensive effect.
the essentials in brief
- Collagen is a structural protein that makes up most of the protein in our body. It consists of bundles of fibers that make up the albumen.
- Collagen comes in different types. Depending on the type of collagen, it has a different effect on specific parts of the body. There are 28 different types of collagen in total.
- Collagen can help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Taking collagen strengthens and strengthens the connective tissue of the skin.
Definition: what is collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein found only in multicellular organisms. Humans are also part of it. It is the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is mainly found in the connective tissue of the body and serves as a stabilizer.
Collagen gives strength to many parts of the body. These body parts include the skin, bones, cartilage, and lungs and all blood vessels (1).
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Background: What you should know about taking collagen
Before we explain how collagen works for certain parts of the body, we would like to give you some background knowledge about collagen. The most frequently asked questions about taking collagen can be found in the following section. We have sorted and answered the individual questions according to their relevance.
What effect does collagen have in our body?
Collagen produced by the body makes up 30% of our body proteins. In short, its task is to maintain the elasticity and strength of various body organs.
Collagen is also an important factor for vision. The cornea is strengthened by the fibers.
Depending on the body organ, the collagen fulfills a somewhat differentiated task. The main task is that the collagen supports the structure of the skin. It gives the skin a certain firmness and tension. This is especially noticeable on the face.
Collagen is responsible for many processes in our body. Collagen formation enables the skin to have a high level of elasticity and flexibility. Collagen formation decreases with age and thus we get wrinkles on our face. Therefore, many creams that contain protein are defined as anti-aging products (Image source: X / Unsplash)
In addition, collagen is also very important for bones, joints, ligaments and tendons. The collagen supports these parts of the body and gives them a certain stability. In addition to stability, elasticity is also a property.
Who is collagen suitable for?
Collagen is suitable for a large target group. It is mainly used in cosmetic terms and therefore also in connection with the aging of the skin. By taking collagen, aging people can strengthen their skin and thus reduce wrinkles.
In many ways, collagen is the protein of stability in the body. This is why people who are subject to high levels of physical exertion also consume collagen.
This includes athletes. Taking collagen strengthens the joints and ligaments in the body.
The oral intake of collagen is essential for medical aspects. Thanks to collagen, bones and cartilage acquire the properties of compressive strength and elasticity. In addition, collagen lowers mild high blood pressure.
What types of collagen are there?
Collagen is already produced in our body. There are different types of collagen, which also have different effects on the body. Therefore, it is important to know what you want to take the collagen for. A combination of several types of collagen is also possible.
The following list shows you the main four types and what they are for:
- Type I : Type I is used for skin, bones, tendons, ligaments and vessels. This type of collagen is also known to have an anti-aging function.
- Type II : Type II is found in the cartilage and also in the vitreous of the eye.
- Type III : Type III is mainly found in organs such as the spleen and lymph nodes. It is also found in organs that require a lot of elasticity. That would be the heart, the skin and the blood vessels.
- Type IV : The type IV differs from the others because it is not made up of fibrils. This type is found in the basement membrane and the lamina externa of the lens capsule.
In total there are 28 different types of collagen that are known. The most important, however, are the first four types of collagen. There are also some types that are very similar. Combinations of some types are also possible.
What types of collagen are there?
Collagen is already produced by the body. However, additional income is also possible. There are four different ways of taking collagen, which we briefly introduce to you in the following table:
|collagen powder||The collagen powder is easy to consume. It can be dissolved in water and is tasteless. It can also be combined with hot drinks such as tea and coffee.|
|collagen capsules||Collagen capsules are easy to take and can be taken with you when you travel. They are usually surrounded by a gelatin shell.|
|collagen tablets||Like capsules, tablets are easy to take and have a certain dosage|
|collagen drink||The collagen drink can be consumed without water. There are different flavors depending on it|
Depending on your preference, you can opt for the drinking version or the tablet and capsule version. With each type of intake, however, it should be noted that there are also different types of collagen.
What are the side effects of taking collagen?
In addition to dietary supplements, collagen is also available in normal foods. However, it is very unlikely that side effects will result from the distortion of the food.
Side effects can occur with cosmetic or surgical procedures involving collagen, such as on the skin.
There are also hair conditioners with collagen content, which can cause skin rashes.
Since collagen is a protein, side effects can still occur in rare cases. Possible side effects include nausea, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness.
What foods contain collagen?
Although collagen can be taken in the form of dietary supplements, it can also be taken naturally. To support collagen production, you should take vitamins and minerals.
The following foods support collagen production:
|red fruits and vegetables||These foods are a natural collagen booster. These include red peppers, cherries, tomatoes, beetroot|
|sweet potatoes||Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin E. This vitamin supports collagen production|
|oatmeal||Oatmeal can be consumed in a variety of ways. They contain vitamin B1, manganese and iron.|
|avocados||In addition to vitamin E, avocados also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These are supportive and prevent the breakdown of collagen|
There are of course other foods that have a supporting effect. So if you want to create collagen in a natural way, you can eat certain foods.
Can you take collagen during pregnancy?
Taking collagen during pregnancy is not a problem. Ingestion can even have a supportive effect, namely against stretch marks. It is well known that some women have elastic skin. Other women, on the other hand, can also have a weakness in the connective tissue.
When the skin loses its elasticity and the skin thins, stretch marks appear. During pregnancy, women with weak connective tissue can develop stretch marks more quickly.
Stretch marks are common during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the abdomen grows significantly in relation to its normal size, causing the skin to stretch. When the skin is stretched, stretch marks form. (Image source: Boris Trost / Pixabay)
Taking collagen can help prevent stretch marks. Unfortunately, total prevention is not possible. But thanks to the collagen, the stability and strength of the connective tissue can be increased. Thus, the skin has more strength and distorts less quickly.
Taking Collagen: 4 approaches you can take collagen for
Collagen has many different effects in our body. We chose the most reported features. In this section we explain what you can take collagen for and how it works in the body.
This also allows you to decide what type of collagen you want to consume. With the decision you can better define your lack or additional support.
Collagen for skin and hair
Collagen makes the skin beautiful and firm. With age, however, collagen production in the body decreases. As a result, wrinkles and a lower elasticity of the skin on the face become noticeable. Hair volume also decreases with age (2).
Therefore, collagen can be supplemented with cosmetic products or dietary supplements. With these measures, the collagen content in the body is increased again.
The effect of cosmetic products is based on the formation of a water-binding layer. This then ensures that the skin looks more beautiful. These products are also known as anti-aging products.
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Taking collagen via supplements also increases collagen levels in the body. This leads to fewer wrinkles and more elasticity in the skin if taken for a longer period of time. Hair density also improves when taken orally.
The cosmetic application of collagen to hair has only a superficial effect and is less intensive than taking collagen orally.
Collagen for joints and ligaments
The effects of collagen on joints, ligaments and tendons are also very essential. Because collagen causes these parts of the body to be strengthened and thus have a higher resilience.
This aspect is not aimed at the beauty, but at the medical side. People who exercise a lot consume collagen. In the following list we show you what collagen has a supporting effect on.
- For stressful joints and joint pain
- herniated discs
- torn ligaments
Collagen supports the entire musculoskeletal system in such a way that it can perform better. So if you exercise a lot or are otherwise very physically active, you can take collagen as a support (3).
collagen for cellulite
We have already looked at the aspect of the effect of collagen against stretch marks in the section above. Many women also suffer from cellulite on the buttocks, legs and stomach.
Here, too, it is the case that when the connective tissue is weak, the skin causes the streaks and dents of cellulite to appear. In addition to the weakness of the connective tissue, a lack of hormones is also responsible.
Women often suffer from changes in their bodies. Cellulite is common.
Women going through menopause have reduced production of the hormone estrogen. As a result, less collagen is formed and cellulite occurs.
As with stretch marks, cellulite is unavoidable. But by taking collagen, cellulite can be prevented or, if it does exist, reduced a little. For this purpose, dietary supplements or natural foods with a high collagen content can be taken.
collagen for the gut
Many people suffer from digestive problems and have problems in the intestinal area. Symptoms can come in the form of flatulence, abdominal pain or diarrhea.
This has various causes such as intolerance to certain foods or products. This is where collagen intake comes into play. The action of collagen in the gut is important.
As with the stabilization of the skin, the collagen in the intestinal area is responsible for ensuring that the cell wall is stable. In the case of intestinal problems, it can lead to instability of the intestinal wall. The collagen ensures that the damaged cell wall and the intestinal cells in it are regenerated.
Collagen is an important protein in our body that is produced less with age. This deficiency can be balanced with food supplements and natural foods. In addition to taking collagen orally, this can also be done via cosmetic products.
Collagen can be ingested for various functions in the body. In addition to the aging process of the skin, collagen can also be used to stabilize and strengthen bones such as joints and ligaments. Basically, it can be said that taking collagen supports many processes in the body and only shows a few side effects.
- Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: WH Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix.
- Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, et al. Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: a prospective, randomized, controlled study. J Cosmetic Laser Ther. 2014;16(3):132-137. doi:10.3109/14764172.2013.854119
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Gollhofer A, König D. Improvement of activity-related knee joint discomfort following supplementation of specific collagen peptides [published correction appears in Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Nov;42(11):1237]. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017;42(6):588-595. doi:10.1139/apnm-2016-0390