Our body loses 1% collagen yearly from about age 20. This means that by age 60, we would lose approximately 40% of our collagen.
Collagen’s unique and potent properties come from its specific amino acid combination.
Collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen are broken down and digestible forms of collagen.
Collagen, the most abundant protein in our body, is vital to the health of every part of the body, including the skeleton, skin, blood vessels, and internal organs. Essentially, collagen’s unique and potent properties come from its specific amino acid combination.
Undoubtedly, all organisms, from bacteria to humans, depend on amino acids for survival. You can get a better idea of collagen’s benefits by learning about the function of its individual amino acids, which you will find below.
Why is collagen not a complete protein?
A protein is deemed complete if it contains all 9 essential amino acids, which your body cannot create independently. Since it is deficient in the essential amino acid tryptophan, collagen is not a complete protein.
The synthesis and upkeep of the body’s proteins, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters depend on tryptophan. Similarly, tryptophan is a building block for serotonin and melatonin in the body. The hormones melatonin and serotonin control the sleep-wake cycle, mood, pain, appetite, and sleep.
Although collagen lacks a necessary amino acid, it still contains a unique combination of amino acids, which is significant. Moreover, you can combine collagen with a tryptophan-rich diet. Tryptophan-rich foods include turkey, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, and tofu.
Amino acids in collagen
Collagen has a unique amino acid profile and contains 19 amino acids, 8 of which are essential. They are Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartate, Cysteine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Tyrosine and Valine.
Collagen stands out from other proteins due to its unique molecular structure. The amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (a modified amino acid that does not occur in other proteins) make up about half of collagen’s 19 total amino acids.
Collagen’s remarkable strength and flexibility come from how these three amino acids link with the other amino acids in a triple helix form. The triple helix is a repeated sequence of three amino acids coiled together to make a collagen fiber, as shown in the diagram below.
What are amino acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Also, they are organic compounds with nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen as their primary elements. Most importantly, there would be no life without amino acids and proteins. To utilize the protein you eat for muscle growth and immune system regulation, your body must first break it down into its amino acid components.
While science has discovered more than 300 amino acids, the human body uses only 20. These 20 amino acids are the building blocks for all the proteins your body needs for development, function, and survival. There are three categories of amino acids:
Essential amino acids
These are the amino acids the body cannot produce. Instead, we need to get them from our food to maintain excellent health. Animal proteins, such as those found in meat, eggs, and poultry, are the finest sources of essential amino acids.
The nine essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Non-essential amino acids
These are the amino acids the body produces on its own; we don’t need to get them from our food. The 11 non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Conditional amino acids
In a normal state of health, the body can generate the conditionally essential amino acids just like the other non-essential amino acids. However, you may not have sufficient amounts during specific situations, such as illness, pregnancy, early childhood, or stress. When this happens, they become essential, i.e., having them in your diet may become vital. The amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine are conditional amino acids.
Functions of the amino acids in collagen
Alanine (non-essential amino acid): involved in sugar and acid metabolism, it increases immunity and provides energy for muscles and the central nervous system (including the brain).
Arginine (non-essential amino acid): may prevent or treat heart and circulatory diseases, combat fatigue, and stimulate the immune system. It’s also known for repairing visible skin damage. Consequently, it is often called the “anti-aging” amino acid.
Aspartic Acid (non-essential amino acid): can play a role in energy production, and other amino acids.
Asparagine :(non-essential amino acid): helps produce enzymes, proteins, and energy the body needs to function. It also keeps the nervous system strong.
Cystine (non-essential amino acid): found in digestive enzymes, cells of the immune system, skeletal system, connective tissues, skin, and hair. It functions as an antioxidant and protects tissues against radiation and pollution, slowing the aging process.
Glutamic Acid (non-essential amino acid): helps nerve cells in the brain send and receive information from other cells in the body. It also influences memory and learning and relieves tiredness.
Glycine (non-essential amino acid): aids in the stability and production of collagen. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and keeps the nervous system healthy. For the skin, it helps reduce lines and wrinkles.
Histidine (essential amino acid): repairs damaged tissues, assists in making blood cells, and helps protect nerve cells. With its antioxidant ability, it can protect the skin from UV damage and pollution.
Hydroxylysine (non-essential amino acid): helps collagen molecules to form stable interactions, called cross-links, with one another in the spaces between cells.
Hydroxyproline (conditionally essential amino acid): vital to collagen stability. It also plays an important role in wound healing and is a necessary component of bones and teeth.
Isoleucine (essential amino acid): helps with hemoglobin formation and regulates blood sugar and energy levels.
Leucine (essential amino acid): contributes to regulating blood sugar levels, growth, and repair of muscle and bone tissue, growth hormone production, and wound healing. Leucine also improves muscle recovery after intense exercise.
Lysine (essential amino acid): helps to break down carbohydrates and fatty acids into energy. Lysine promotes wound healing and may also reduce the recurrence of cold sores.
Methionine (essential amino acid): helps make collagen and protein. It can also detoxify harmful substances in the body and protect it from damage caused by radiation. It is also known for protecting against hair loss.
Phenylalanine (essential amino acid): plays a key role in the production of other amino acids and the function of many proteins and enzymes. For example, phenylalanine is converted to tyrosine which is used in the production of dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone.
Proline (non-essential amino acid): vital to collagen stability. It plays a significant role in the functioning of joints and tendons and in reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Serine (non-essential amino acid): Supports muscle growth and strengthens the immune system.
Threonine (essential amino acid): one of the key building blocks of collagen; keeps the gastrointestinal system balanced and skin hydrated.
Tryptophan (essential amino acid): vital in regulating appetite, sleep, mood, and pain. Collagen lacks this amino acid and is hence considered an incomplete protein.
Tyrosine (non-essential amino acid): crucial for the production of brain neurotransmitters; epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These control “fight or flight” responses and pleasure sensations.
Valine (essential amino acid): Useful for tissue repair and muscle growth. It also increases mental focus and emotional stability.
Where does collagen come from?
You’ll find more than 25 different kinds of collagen within the human body. Still, the most common collagen proteins are types I through IV. Type I is present in bone, skin, and blood vessels; type II in cartilage; type III in tendons; and type IV in the basement membrane.
Basically, your body produces collagen naturally. And for a considerable portion of our lives, our body creates sufficient collagen to keep us looking young. However, as we grow older, our bodies require more assistance in collagen production. The reason is that from age 20, our body loses 1% collagen yearly. Consequently, by age 60, we would lose approximately 40% collagen. The way out is to add collagen supplements to your diet or obtain collagen from food sources.
Collagen from food sources
Protein-rich meals may encourage collagen synthesis. These foods are typically advocated as part of a healthy diet. Bone broth, seafood, poultry, pork, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy are all examples of such foods.
Collagen proteins are often extracted from animal tissue like beef, poultry, or fish to make collagen supplements. Collagen obtained from hydrolyzed sources (such as hide, tendon, and bone) is high in types I and III. Likewise, fish skin provides the basis of marine collagen, which supports types I and II.
Whole or ‘regular’ collagen, however, cannot be absorbed. It needs to be broken (or hydrolyzed) into smaller peptides or amino acids. This improves its digestibility in the intestine and subsequent availability for cellular uptake in the circulatory system.
Therefore, if you want to increase your collagen levels, taking a hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplement will help because it provides a highly absorbable form of protein.
What should you look for in a collagen supplement?
If you want to supplement with collagen powders, you should look for a product that specifies it has hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. The terms “collagen peptides” and “hydrolyzed collagen” are often used interchangeably, but they relate to the same product.
Furthermore, do a quick check of the product’s amino acid composition. Make sure that proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline are all indicated separately on the label as part of the product’s amino profile.
Additionally, select collagen sourced from either grass-fed cows or wild-caught fish. Choosing collagen supplements that are 100% pure rather than those with additional colors, tastes, or preservatives is advisable.
JOOSH’s Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides is sourced from grass-fed cows and is allergen-free. Similarly, marine collagen is hydrolyzed collagen sourced from Alaskan Pollock (cod fish). JOOSH Collagen products are pure and contain no preservatives, additives, artificial colors, or flavors. Because it goes well with many foods, JOOSH collagen powder easily fits into your diet.
The health benefits of taking a hydrolyzed collagen powder, especially one of excellent quality, are numerous. Collagen helps revitalize skin, cushions joints, and fortifies bones and muscles. Collagen supplements are helpful for intestinal health, fitness, and healthy aging.
Collagen’s unique amino acid makeup makes it effective in improving skin health and reducing joint pains. Ensuring that your body has enough amino acids to produce the collagen required is vital in healthy aging and maintaining good health. Even as you get older, you can enjoy collagen benefits by including a collagen supplement in your daily routine.