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What is collagen?

Skin Conditions, Age related illnesses, Joint disorders | May 29, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

skin, age related

What is collagen?

You might have come across this ingredient in your beauty products or use as a supplement but what exactly is collagen going to do for your health? To put it simply collagen is going to slow the ageing process to prevent sagging skin, degenerative joint diseases and more. It’s the most abundant protein that is found in our muscles, bones, blood vessels, skin, tendons, teeth and cartilage. Unfortunately, there are many factors which can deplete the body of collagen and a change in diet and lifestyle can prevent this from occurring.

Types of collagen

Collagen is present in about 30% of your body tissue and 70% of your skin tissue. There are about 28 different types of collagen—however the vast majority of collagen is type 1 which accounts for up to 90% of the body’s supply. Other common types include 1, 2, 3, 5 & 10, which all have specific locations and functions in the body.

Here’s an overview of the different collagen types

Here’s an overview of the different collagen typesType 1: this is the most prevalent type of collagen which is found in skin, bones, tendons, teeth and scar tissue. It’s made up of eosinophilic fibres that form part of body to provide strength, and elasticity.

Essential for wound healing, type 1 collagen helps to hold the tissues together to allow healing and repair.

Type 2: this form of collagen is found in cartilage and connective tissue—helping to prevent arthritis and joint pain. It is also a clear gel in your eyeball called the vitreous humour.

Type 3: you can find type 3 collagen in cells of skin, muscles, blood vessels and lungs. It is made of reticular fibres that is part of the structure of our organs, blood vessels, heart and skin. It is usually found with type 1 collagen to provide skin elasticity and strength.

Type 4: an intracellular collagen, type 4 collagen is found in the lining of your body organs such as those involved in respiration and digestion. Type 4 is the most important collagen component of the basement membrane which is needed for various nerve and blood vessel functions as well as cushioning.

Type 5: this type of collagen is needed by our bodies to create the tissue essential for a healthy placenta as well as what we use for our cells’ surfaces.

Type 10: type ten plays an important role in new bone formation and articular cartilage. It has been known to play a part in healing bone fractures and synovial joint damage.

There are several collagens, once referred to as “minor” collagens, that are crucial for tissue integrity despite the fact that they are present in very small amounts. Collagen type 9 comprises 1% of collagen in adult articular cartilage and collagen 12, crucial for skin integrity, constitutes only about 0.001% of total collagens in skin.

The benefits of collagen

Skin health

As we age collagen is depleted from our skin which contributes to wrinkles and a loss of elasticity.

The benefits of collagenMaking sure you have enough collagen in the diet can return the skin to a firmer, more youthful appearance.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that 8 weeks of oral collagen peptide supplementation resulted in significantly increased skin hydration and collagen density in the upper layer of the skin.

Collagen could also be used for wound healing, stretch marks and cellulite.

When used topically collagen peptides improve skin barrier function, induce the synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid, and promote fibroblast growth and migration.

Joint pain and arthritis

When we have a loss of collagen our joints can feel stiff, painful and swollen. This is because collagen is a gel-like substance that lines our bones and allows them to move effortlessly without pain.

Joint pain and arthritisStudies conducted on the effectiveness of collagen supplements in rheumatoid arthritis have had mixed results.

However, a 2009 double-blind trial found that undenatured collagen improved participants pain, morning stiffness, tender joint count and swollen joint count. 

Another study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found that people with osteoarthritis joint pain treated with type 2 collagen showed significant enhancements in daily activities, such as walking up stairs, ascending or sleeping, and a general improvement in their quality of life.

Other benefits of collagen include:

Collagen in the diet

We get naturally occurring collagen in the foods we eat, particularly those high in protein such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs.

Bovine, or cow collagen is mostly made up of type 1 and type 3 collagen which are the most abundant forms in the human body.

Chicken collagen is rich in type 2 which makes it beneficial for our joints.

Fish contains high amounts of type 1 collagen which can benefit the entire body.

Egg collagen is found in the shell membrane and yolk and mainly contains type 1 with smaller amounts of types 3,4, and 10.

Another great way to get concentrated collagen is by consuming organic bone broths.

Vitamin C is important for the formation and use of collagen and is found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

While we should boost our intake of collagen we should also look at ways to reduce this important protein from being broken down too rapidly.

Factors which deplete our body of collagen 

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Sun exposure

Supplementing with collagen

Typically collagen supplements are found as hydrolysed collagen and are naturally rich in:

Hydrolysed collagen means that it has been partially broken down and the collagen peptides are more bioavailable.

Supplementing with collagenCollagen is available in powder form which can be added to smoothies, soups or even baked goods.

Another way to reap the health benefits is to supplement with gelatine (broken down collagen).

Gelatine is beneficial to our joints and digestion and is great for people with food allergies or sensitivities.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Ricard-Blum S. The collagen family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011 Jan 1;3(1):a004978

Asserin J, et al. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301

Wei W, et al. A multicentre, double-blind, randomized, controlled phase III clinical trial of chicken type II collagen in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(6):R180

Steffensen LB, et al. A role for collagen IV in cardiovascular disease? Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2018 Apr 20. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00070.2018. [Epub ahead of print]

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