collagen protein health benefits

Did you know your body naturally makes collagen, but as we age, our bodies production of this vital nutrient declines, reducing the function and overall productivity of our body’s ability to rebuild and regenerate cells? This cell regeneration not only contributes to healthier joints and skin, but it also slows the visible signs of aging. Collagen is an important protein source for the body, so how can you increase your natural levels of collagen, while reaping all the benefits as you age?

What Is Collagen Protein?

Ever touched a baby’s cheek? It’s the softest skin you’ve ever felt on the cutest, tiniest little human. Ever touched your grandma’s cheek? No offense g-ma, but it definitely doesn’t feel the same. What gives? Collagen! Collagen is an extremely important, naturally produced protein fiber found abundantly in mammals aka humans. Nearly one-third of the body’s protein is collagen [R,R].

As we age, the natural production of collagen in humans slows, with signs of low collagen production in more than just saggy skin, wrinkles, and less-than baby soft skin. Without collagen, our bodies lose their structural integrity that supports tissue health, ligament strength, and bone health. The most significant function of collagen is structure, proving why this type of protein, collagen protein (CP), is so very important for the human body!

Making The Connection – Understanding the Structural Importance of Collagen

Collagen provides mechanical stability, elasticity, and strength to humans [R]. Collagen is a protein with a structure similar to a rope in the CrossFit gym. When you look closely at the rope, the rope itself is made up of many individual fibers, just like collagen is. These are called macrofibrils and they’re stronger together – essentially they keep the shape and integrity of the rope [R].

Collagen Microfibrils

As you climb the rope and use the rope repeatedly, similar to your tendons and ligaments, the structure can fray and become weak. Unless there is more rope (or collagen supply), macrofibrils and even tinier fibers called microfibrils, cause the rope to deteriorate and break down [R]. Your body is no different, which is why replenishing collagen from the diet is important for maintaining robust structural health for skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and even fighting signs of aging and preventing injury. 

Do Humans Naturally Produce Collagen?

Humans do make a good amount of collagen naturally until we reach the late 20s and early 30s. This is when collagen production begins to decline. Furthering this natural decline in the body’s production of collagen are UV ray damage, smoke, dehydration, and otherwise, contributing to compromised structural integrity.

Where Does Collagen Protein Come From?

While humans do produce collagen naturally, we can increase collagen production by providing our body the nutrients it needs to encourage natural collagen production. Collagen also comes from increasing collagen-containing foods, such as bone broth, and we can consume a collagen protein powder supplement. Collagen powder supplements are the most direct way to replenish healthful levels of collagen in the body. 

RELATED ARTICLE 5 Collagen Rich Foods 

Types of Collagen Peptides

There are three main types of collagen, of out at least 28 known types, that you should consume and that your body naturally produces. Types I, II, and III collagen make up 80-90 percent of the collagen found in the human body [R]

Type I Collagen Benefit:

Type I Collagen is the most abundant source of collagen in the human body. Type I Collagen is the strongest source of collagen as compared to other types and most recommended for nail, skin, and hair health. Type I Collagen is found in human bones, ligaments, tendons, skin, teeth dentin and cellular fluid [R]. Due to the great elasticity of Type I collagen, meaning it can be stretched without being broken, making Type I the most well-rounded protein for overall health and well-being. These specific collagen fibers, like the ones found in tendons, are gram for gram stronger than steel [R]. 

Type II Collagen Benefit:

This type of collagen is more typically found in the human body as cartilage. The fibrils that makeup Type II, are smaller in diameter as compared to Type I [R]. Type II collagen also plays an important role in the eyes, specifically in the areas more vulnerable to tearing and retinal detachment [R]. 

Type III Collagen Benefits

Type III Collagen helps with organizing reticulin fibers in organs and helps organize cells within our organs. Type III Collagen is crucial for fibrous tissue prominent in the intestines, blood vessels, and muscles [R,R]. This type is often found alongside Type I collagen in the body.

What Type of Collagen Protein Is The Best?

It’s safe to say that having all three main types of collagen are extremely important for the overall functioning and health of the human body, but is there one type of collagen that is more important than another? Not necessarily. Swolverine’s Collagen Protein contains all three types of collagen sourced from Bovine, Marine, and Chicken. By using all three types, you’re improving your body’s overall health and longevity with just one scoop a day.

RELATED ARTICLE: Is Collagen Better Than My Post Workout Shake?

The Main Sources of Collagen Peptides

Does collagen come from animals? Yes, and it's definitely not vegan-friendly. Different animals provide different types of collagen and collagen benefits.

Where does Collagen Come From?

Where Does Collagen Protein Come From?

Beef Collagen / Bovine Collagen

The hydrolyzed bovine hide collagen contains the most common type of collagen and it’s sourced from the happiest cows in the USA! Bovine Collagen mainly contains Type I & Type III Collagen which are the most commonly utilized types in the human body.

Chicken Collagen

Bird collagen carries a wealthy amount of Type II collagen sourced from bones, cartilage, eggshells and tissues.

    Marine Collagen / Fish Collagen 

    The scales and bones from fish provide a robust amount of collagen and high levels of hydroxyproline which works within the human body to stimulate skin cell regeneration [R]. Some studies claim that because of the small molecular structure of collagen from fish that it’s easier to digest and more readily absorbed in the human body [R]. But this doesn’t make marine collagen more superior than other types of collagen and does require further research.

    Is Collagen Protein Vegetarian or Vegan Friendly?

    While there are plant-based collagen powder alternatives out there for vegetarians, the power of the collagen properties doesn’t hold a candle to a collagen protein powder supplement. Often times, vegetarian diets have been found to have a reduced collagen synthesis contributing to the advancement in the aging process [R]. It’d be wise to consider ALL of the ingredients in the vegetarian protein, your goals, and whether or not it’d be better for you and your lifestyle to consume an animal-based collagen supplement. Unfortunately, collagen is not vegetarian.

    Additionally, there is no vegan collagen protein powder available. If you’re strictly vegan and looking to increase your natural collagen producing properties, we recommend increasing your regular intake of silica, vitamin A & C, ellagic acid and other antioxidants, as well as minerals such as zinc.

    RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Foods ‘Supposed’ to Help With Natural Collagen Production

      How To Get More Collagen Protein

      The easy answer - supplement with it. We're not just saying this, either.

      While our first recommendation is always food, when it comes to getting more collagen in your diet, it can be extremely hard. Collagen protein supplements are clinically proven to be the best way to provide the human body with collagen. Additionally, collagen peptides from powder supplements are more bioavailable within the human body. What does that mean for you? It means that your body has a better chance of actually absorbing the supplement rather than excreting it.

      Since collagen protein powder supplements are sourced from animals, the body can easily recognize and utilize the nutrient contributing to an improvement in your skin, ligaments, and tendon’s elasticity, hydration, and youthful resiliency [R].

      RELATED ARTICLE: Banana Collagen Protein Muffin Recipe

      Is Collagen Protein A Complete Source of Protein?

      No. Collagen Protein is comprised of at least 9 essential amino acids, meaning your body must receive these building blocks of protein from your diet. Your body cannot make essential amino acids on its own.

      Complete proteins are found in animal foods and some plant foods. Collagen is a unique type of protein and is not considered to be a complete source of protein. But before you write it off, it’s imperative to understand that collagen protein, just like any supplement, is not meant to replace the nutrition from your diet, but rather, bridge the gaps.

      Collagen is made up of very specific amino acids, glycine, proline, alanine, and hydroxyproline, that are severely lacking in modern diets. Collagen can contain up to 19 different types of amino acids, of which, only 10 of the 20 can humans synthesize [17]. Think of supplementing with a CP as providing your body with the glue that holds it together. Your body depends on collagen, and ample amounts of it, to remain strong, healthy, and flexible, as you age.  

      RELATED ARTICLE What's The Difference Between Complete Vs. Incomplete Proteins?

      Amino Acids To Produce Collagen

      There are three main amino acids in collagen, one of which is unique to just collagen protein. They are as follows:

      • Proline - C5H9NO2
        Makes up about 19 percent of the amino acid profile in collagen. Helps with protein synthesis, metabolism, joint health, immune response, and wound healing.
      • Lysine - C6H14N2O2
        Lysine helps with the absorption of calcium, promotes bone growth and helps to form collagen. However, lysine needs Vitamin C to do its job.
      • Glycine - C2H5NO2
        The most abundant amino acid found in collagen (about 1/3) and is the smallest of the amino acid profile molecularly. Helps with muscle growth, chemical signals and neurotransmission in the brain, blood sugar regulation, fighting inflammation, metabolism, and hemoglobin synthesis to name a few.
      • Hydroxyproline - C5H9NO3 
        Keeps collagen stable structurally, derived from proline. Found in connective tissues and help with stretching. This amino acid is not found in other types of protein aside from collagen.
      • Others Amino Acids In Collagen
        There are several other amino acids that are significant in collagen, including alanine, arginine, and glutamine. These amino acids help with liver metabolism, immune system health, cell energy, insulin secretion, and mental health, amongst others.

      Collagen Manufacturing Process

      Collagen powder supplements, like Swolverine's Collagen Protein Peptides, are the most direct and preferred source of collagen to fight signs of aging, prevent injury, and improve structural functioning in the body because they’re sourced from animals and are easily absorbed [R].

      How Is Collagen Protein Made?

      The collagen manufacturing process may be more complex than you may think. The manufacturing process breaks the collagen proteins from animals down into hydrolyzed collagen, which is a polypeptide composite made when gelatin or denatured collagen is subject to hydrolysis. 

      In order to consume collagen as a powdered supplement, manufacturers must complete several steps.

      Step 1: Demineralization followed by the extraction of collagen to gelatin.

      Step 2: Enzymatic Hydrolysis to produce hydrolyzed collagen – creates a more easily digested and absorbed form of the collagen.

      Step 3: Obtain hydrolyzed collagen and place through an evaporation and milling process in order to filter, sterilize, and dry, creating the final product, a powder.

      Collagen Peptides vs Collage Protein – What’s the Difference?

      Not much, honestly. As a consumer, you’re going to see Collagen Protein referred to as “Collagen Peptides”, “Hydrolyzed Collagen” and “Collagen Hydrolysate”. As an informed consumer, you’re going to want to understand which one is better and why. So, what’s the difference between these as compared to just regular collagen protein? The amino acid profile is the same but the difference lies within the structure.

      From a structural standpoint, Collagen Protein contains a twisted helix of three long chains of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (amino acids). Sure, it’s pretty crazy strong, but the length of this structure gives the body a difficult time to digest and absorb it. This also contributes to Collagen Protein having troubles being mixed into drinks, shakes, and recipes because it doesn't dissolve well. 

      As a consumer, you want to purchase a hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptide protein powder. Essentially, they're a different name for the same thing. These two forms of collagen are broken down into smaller pieces to create a more bioavailable, easily digested and absorbed form of collagen protein [R]. Additionally, the powder is dissolved easily and easier to use in drinks, recipes, and shakes. Swolverine's Collagen Protein, for example, is a hydrolyzed CP. 

      Is Oral or Topical Collagen Better?

      While topical applications of collagen, such as serums, moisturizers, and creams, can indeed support the body’s natural production of collagen by providing nutrients and minerals, it cannot replace the collagen found within human skin.

      Researchers in Japan discovered and proved that the hydrolysis process of manufacturing collagen, as we just learned, is the most preferred way to replenish collagen in an aging body. Hydrolyzed Collagen is small enough proteins for our digestive enzymes to completely break down, allowing collagen to be absorbed into the bloodstream at a high rate [R].

      A Complete Guide To Collagen Protein: Takeaway

      Collagen is a great way to increase your overall health while delivering a constant source of protein throughout the day. It's important to know that choosing a collagen supplement is just as important as taking one, which is why we recommend the powder from Swolverine.

      Thinking about adding collagen protein to your daily regimen?

      Swolverine's Collagen Protein is made with pure grass-fed. pasture-raised hydrolyzed collagen peptides. Unflavored and virtually tasteless, you can add it to your coffee, smoothies, shakes, and even to your baking recipes to get an added boost of protein whenever you may need it. Collagen can help replenish your body with the vital protein you need to build lean muscle mass, strength, and help support healthy joints and glowing skin.* 

      SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform. 

      We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.


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      Czajka A, Kania EM, Genovese L, et al. Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general wellbeing. Nutr Res. 2018;57:97-108.

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