Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Do you know that its name comes from the Greek word “kolla” which means “glue”? Since it holds the whole body together, it is clear where it got its name from. Approximately 25 to 35 percent of protein is collagen. In other words, aside from water, collagen is the most abundant substance in your body. Pretty crazy, right?
Regarded as the substance that holds the whole body together, collagen can be found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It allows for movement, agility, flexibility, and expansion in all these parts of your body. Collagen helps your fascia (connective tissue under our skin) to be long, lean, and flexible, to make your body strong and supple. It’s therefore more than obvious that collagen supplementation provides various benefits to bodybuilders and people undergoing weight training.
What exactly is collagen and what is its function?
Collagen is the most important protein in the human body and is a major component of connective tissues, ligaments, skin, and muscles. Collagen gives skin structure and strengthens bones. It is necessary to maintain muscle strength and its proper functioning.
Moreover, because bones are made of collagen, as collagen in the body deteriorates, bone mass diminishes. Collagen helps maintain the integrity of cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that protects joints. When the body ages, it produces less collagen, which results in dry skin and wrinkles.
What are food sources of collagen?
Collagen is found in the connective tissue of animals. Sources include chicken skin, pork skin, and fish scales. Foods that contain gelatin also have collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance derived from cooked collagen. Therefore, fruit jellies are also a good source of collagen.
What are the main types of collagen?
There are more than a dozen types of collagen, each composed of different peptides or amino acids.
Most supplements contain a hydrolyzed type I collagen, which supports healthy skin. Hydrolyzed implies that the amino acid chains have been broken down into smaller units that are easier to absorb.
Type II collagen is primarily found in cartilage and is useful for joint health, and type III collagen promotes skin health by improving elasticity.
What are the benefits of taking collagen supplementation for bodybuilders, athletes, and the general population?
- Collagen supplementation may boost muscle mass, especially in people with sarcopenia (muscle loss caused by aging), and prevent bone loss.
- Athletes all over the world know that the more flexible their joints and bones are, the less likely they are to get injured. Collagen is the secret to well-lubricated, well-cushioned joints and spinal cord. Therefore, collagen supplement is the most suitable means of preventing injuries in professional athletes, bodybuilders, and regular gym goers.
- There is promising evidence that adding collagen to your diet can help support muscle-building efforts. Arginine and glycine, two of the amino acids found in collagen, are used to make creatine.
- Responsible for the healthy skin, hair, and nails that make us look foxy. The more collagen you have, the slower the aging process, internally and externally.
- Collagen supplementation may support brain health and aid weight loss.
What are the latest research findings regarding collagen supplementation?
- When taken with other vitamins and bioactive compounds, collagen supplementation improves skin elasticity, joints, and general well-being, and, consequently, has anti-aging properties.
- When combined with resistance training, collagen supplementation may be useful for elderly men dealing with the loss of muscle mass and muscle function.
- Collagen supplementation may help the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- When taken with calcium and vitamin D, collagen may be useful for postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
- Improves bone mineral density and bone markers in postmenopausal women.
- Collagen supplementation may be a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
- Improves nail growth and reduces the symptoms of brittle nails.
- May support heart health.
- Has beneficial effects on the skin.
- Collagen supplementation appears to support wound healing and skin recovery.
- Seems to be useful for articular pain.
Is collagen a high-quality protein?
No, it’s not. This is because it is not a complete protein. It does not contain all nine essential amino acids. It’s also particularly low in the amino acid methionine, and the branched-chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, making it a poor choice for muscle integrity and building. This means collagen supplements should not displace complete protein foods in the diet and should not be used as one’s main source of protein. However, we don’t even take collagen with that goal in mind. You still have to take high-quality whey protein / high-quality protein meal after training to get a complete protein.
How is collagen sold and taken?
Collagen supplementation is most often sold as a powder but is also available in capsules, tablets, and gummies. Dosage recommendations tend to range from 5 g per day to 30 g per day. It is best to consult a medical provider before initiating supplementation.
Is collagen supplementation really necessary?
Collagen supplementation is recommended for most people. This is especially true if you are a highly active person engaged in different sports and fitness activities (such as bodybuilding and weightlifting). Though humans naturally synthesize collagen, with increasing age, the production of collagen slows. Eating foods rich in collagen will probably not produce sufficient amounts of collagen to compensate for this loss. Collagen supplementation is, therefore, a must.
Choosing the right collagen supplement for your lifestyle could be tricky if you don’t know in advance what exactly should you be checking once the product is in your hands. Here are 9 tips for choosing the right collagen supplement.
Collagen breakdown accelerators?
- Excess sun exposure
- Poor diet
Are there any side effects of taking collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements are generally safe for most people. The side effects of collagen supplements are usually not major. However, some supplements are made from common food allergens such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. Higher doses of collagen may be associated with digestive discomfort such as gas and bloating. People with kidney disease should use collagen with caution and under the guidance of a medical provider.
Closing thoughts about collagen and collagen supplementation
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body: it is found in skin, bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, and a number of other tissues. From this data alone, it’s easy to understand how important it is to keep the collagen level high even in the years when it begins to decline.
Collagen is a food supplement that will have a positive effect on your hair, skin, joints, bones, but also heart health and muscles, so it is certainly one of the food supplements that has gained popularity for a reason in recent years and should be found in all of our households.
If you’re an active individual engaged in sports, bodybuilding, and weightlifting you have even more reasons to start with collagen supplementation. Research has suggested that a combination of training and collagen supplementation can strengthen the myotendinous junction and improve muscle-joint interaction, ideal for athletes looking to prevent injury, as well as those recovering from joint injuries and joint surgery.