By now, I am sure that just about everyone has heard about collagen, and how important it is in terms of our skin. We see collagen mentioned on the labels of many skin care products, and of course, there are many dietary supplements that also contain collagen. These days we are also seeing marine collagen being promoted. Is there even any difference between regular collagen and marine collagen? Please continue reading if you want to learn more about collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein which is abundant in our bodies. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in our bodies. Of all the protein you have in your body, 25% to 35% of it is collagen. I could start talking about extracellular matrixes, triple helixes, elongated fibrils and so forth, but I am guessing that you are not here for a biology lesson, and quite frankly, I do not blame you.
In short, one could describe collagen as being the building block for hair, nails, skin, bones and ligaments. The word “collagen” comes from a Greek word that means glue, and to a great extent, collagen is like a type of glue that holds everything together.
From Sugary Dessert to Sought After Skin Care
If you are anywhere near my age or older, you may remember your Mom making jelly molds. Well, if you used to eat that jelly, you were eating gelatin, which is essentially whole collagen. There were all sorts of flavors which came in powdered form. You simply dissolved the powder in some water, poured the mixture into a mold, and then put it in the refrigerator to set.
Back in those days, gelatin capsules were also quite popular among people who wanted to improve the condition of their nails. You can still buy gelatin capsules today, but most of the capsules you buy today will contain collagen hydrolysates and/or powdered collagen peptides.
Unlike before, people are not only taking these capsules to improve their nails. They are mostly taking them in a bid to improve their skin, and to keep their skin looking as youthful as possible for as long as possible.
Read another interesting article from this website: Chemical Peel for Hyperpigmentation – Your Questions Answered
Collagen Tablets and Capsules – The Facts
Collagen supplements are now one of the most popular dietary supplements. In fact, American consumers are expected to spend nearly 293 million dollars on collagen supplements in 2020. And, it is expected to grow at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.8% which will bring the figure to around 310 million dollars in 2021. In 2014, on the other hand, they only spent about 50 million dollars. Of course, this should not really come as a surprise, considering all the claims being made about collagen supplements.
According to many companies that make and/or sell these supplements, collagen supplementation can benefit you in more ways than one, including:
- They can improve the appearance and texture of your skin
- They can strengthen your nails
- They can improve and strengthen your hair
- They can strengthen your bones
- They can help to keep your joints pain free and reduce/prevent knee and back pain
These are pretty bold claims, but is there any truth in them? To a great extent, the jury is still out in that regard. Quite a lot of studies have been done, and they seem to suggest that the above claims are in fact genuine. However, many of those studies have been done by, or been financed by companies that manufacture bovine collagen supplements and/or marine collagen supplements. This quite understandably casts some amount of doubt on their validity.
With all of the above having been said, there have also been some studies done by people who do not have any vested interests. For example, an article in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology highlights some double-blind placebo controlled studies which showed that collagen supplementation could improve skin hydration, collagen density, and skin elasticity.
What Is Marine Collagen?
If you are considering taking collagen supplements, or if you are looking for topical skin care products that contain collagen, you will most likely have noticed that some labels refer to collagen peptides, while others refer to marine collagen. So, what is the difference between collagen peptides and marine collagen?
All collagen is made from animal parts that come mostly from cattle, pigs and fowl. Up until quite recently, most of the collagen that was being used in dietary supplements and skin care products came from cattle. This is known as Bovine Collagen and it is obtained by boiling bones and other byproducts. The collagen is then collected, dried, and then ground into powder form.
Marine Collagen, on the other hand, is mostly obtained from the skin, bones, and scales of wild caught fish. This type of collagen is also sometimes called fish collagen.
Regular Collagen vs. Marine Collagen
As is to be expected, some people are convinced that regular collagen peptides are superior, while others believe that marine collagen is superior. Personally, I am inclined to agree with those who argue in favor of fish collagen. To a certain extent, it is all about personal preferences. However, fish collagen does have a few advantages over regular collagen peptides.
For example, people who are opposed to livestock farming might feel more comfortable using products that contain collagen harvested from the byproducts of wild caught fish. Other people may be concerned about the fact that livestock animals are often given various types of medication, including hormones and steroids, while this is not the case with wild caught fish.
Also, if your main focus is on improving your skin, then marine collagen is probably the better option for you. We need to remember that there are different types of collagen, including Type-1 collagen, Type-2 collagen, and Type-3 collagen. Bovine collagen contains Type-1 and Type-2, while marine collagen is Type-1, which coincidentally is ideal for skin.
If you purchase a really good quality collagen serum for treating lines and wrinkles, the serum will most likely contain marine collagen. Of all the different types of collagen proteins, this is the most bio-available of them all. In other words, it is the most readily digested and most readily absorbed of all the different collagen types.
What Are Collagen Shots?
These can be divided into two main categories: drinks and injections. Let us first look at collagen drinks, and then I will discuss the injections.
Collagen supplementation has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that has swept over the world. Apart from regular collagen supplements that come in the form of capsules or tablets, there are now also an almost infinite number of flavored collagen drinks available in the refrigerated sections in supermarkets and convenience stores all around the world.
Many of these beverages are also fortified with other things such as vitamin-C, vitamin-D, vitamin-E, etc. Of course, companies that manufacture these drinks tend to make all sorts of claims, but is there even any truth in them? Can collagen drinks really replenish the collagen that we are constantly losing?
Regardless of what you may read or be told, it is highly unlikely that whole collagen would survive a trip through your digestive system. In other words, it is highly unlikely that any of it would ever make it as far as your skin. For this reason, whole collagen is never used in collagen drinks, or at least it should not be. Instead, manufacturers make use of collagen peptides which are easier to digest and absorb in the gut.
Some research has shown that ingested collagen peptides start appearing in the bloodstream approximately one hour after ingestion. Some studies have also shown that some of these peptides can in fact reach the skin, and that some of them may be retained in the skin tissue for up to two weeks. So, can these collagen drinks really plump up your skin and smooth away lines and wrinkles?
Unfortunately, there has not yet been enough research done to prove or fully disprove such claims. Also, many of the studies which have been done have been sponsored by the same companies that want you to buy their collagen drinks.
According to a publication on the NCBI website, one particular study has proven that a collagen drink can reduce oxidative damage and enhance cell functionality to counter UVA-related skin cell damage. However, this study was also only done in a laboratory. Until there have been more human trials done, I think I would rather invest my money in some high quality topical skin care products.
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Collagen Injections (Shots)
Collagen injections provide more or less the same sort of results you would get from Botox injections. One of the main differences is that while Botox injections rely on an extremely powerful toxin, collagen injections offer a far more natural approach. The collagen used for these injections can come from a number of animals, or from the patient who is having the treatment done.
According to the Winchester Hospital Health Library, treatments involving collagen injections are typically very successful. Patients will see immediate results, and the results usually last for at least 6 months, sometimes even longer.
Collagen injections are mostly used for plumping up lips; as filler for lines and wrinkles, and for improving and/or reducing the appearance of scars. People who are contemplating having this sort of procedure done should only have it done by a certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon.
As with other similar types of procedures, there are some possible complications which could arise. These tend to be very rare, but you need to be aware of them if you are contemplating to have these injections. Possible complications include:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes and/or itchiness
- Uneven skin texture/appearance
- Appearance of bumps or abscesses on the skin
- Bleeding and/or bruising
- Swelling in and around the treated area/s
- Tissue and/or nerve damage near the injection site
If you notice any of the above happening after you have had the procedure done, it is very important to call your doctor immediately.
According to the Consumer Guide for Plastic Surgery, the average cost of collagen injections is generally between $300 and $400 per syringe. In many instances, a single syringe is sufficient, but not always.
What Is A Collagen Booster?
The term “collagen boosters” could refer to the follow-up collagen injections which people have once the results from their original injections begin to fade. However, when people talk about collagen boosters, they are almost always referring to things which can or may increase or boost the natural production in their bodies. Hyaluronic acid is one such substance.
Hyaluronic acid plays several roles in our bodies, but as is the case with collagen, our natural supply of Hyaluronic acid starts to decrease once we start aging. One study that appears on the US National Library of Medicine website suggests that Hyaluronic acid has the ability to increase the natural production of collagen in our bodies.
Several foods contain Hyaluronic acid, but in order for the body to use Hyaluronic acid as efficiently as possible, it also requires an adequate amount of vitamin-C. By consuming enough vitamin-C, we can increase the amount of Hyaluronic acid in our bodies, and this in turn can support an increase in collagen production.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I would rather spend my money on good quality topical skin care products than spend it on collagen drinks. This connection between Hyaluronic acid and increased collagen production is one of the main reasons for me making such a comment.
Aloe Vera gel is also thought to be one of several natural collagen boosters. In an article that was originally published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, the authors of the study noted that Aloe Vera, whether applied topically or taken orally, can significantly increase collagen synthesis. The article I am referring to is also available on the US National Library of Medicine website. If you would like to read it, you can do so here.
If you have read through any of my other posts and/or product reviews, you will already be aware of the fact that I am not a licensed medical practitioner. Like you, I just want to keep my skin looking as good as I possibly can. So, what I am about to say, is mostly a reflection of my personal opinion, which has been formed as a result of research I have done, and also as a result of some personal experiences.
I personally feel that a lot more studies are needed before it will be possible to say for sure whether or not we can replenish lost collagen by ingesting dietary collagen in the form of collagen drinks, etc. I do not think there is any harm to be done from trying them, but I am not convinced.
On the other hand, I have used a number of topical skin care products which can supposedly stimulate collagen production, and I have been very happy with the results. Whether or not they really do stimulate collagen production, I do not know. I have seen results, and that is all that matters to me. So, for me personally, I will be sticking to topical skin care products for the time being.