Collagen is a naturally occurring protein and one of three essential macronutrients in the body. Without collagen, the human body wouldn’t be able to build tendons, ligaments and bones. In fact, collagen makes up about 30% of the body’s protein content and is absolutely vital to our survival and overall health.
Collagen is available in supplement form and can be sprinkled into beverages like teas, smoothies and juices. The collagen that we supplement with is typically made from fish and animal skin, cartilage and bones. Taking it helps to rejuvenate skin cells thus making the skin tighter, firmer and more supple.
However, a little-known fact about collagen is that it actually contains high concentrations of very important amino acids, namely arginine, glycine, hydroxyproline and proline. Glycine, when combined with cysteine and glutamine, is vital to the creation of glutathione which is the most powerful antioxidant in the body.
Why We Need Collagen?
There are many benefits that come with supplementing with collagen. For one, it’s undoubtedly the strongest material in the human body and it works great for cell regeneration. This is why the body uses it as a building block for connective tissue and joints, and it’s so strong that it has been compared to steel.
Collagen (as well as gelatin) offers the following benefits for the human body:
- Promotes the growth of healthy hair, skin and nails
- It’s a great source of protein
- Promotes healthy digestion
- It’s essential for joint health
- Promotes skin elasticity and graceful ageing
It’s important to note here that the amino acids which come from collagen and gelatin can only be found in animal bones and cartilage. They cannot be accessed from eating muscle meats at all. That’s why consuming bone broth is becoming popular again because it’s one of the few methods that are available for a good collagen intake.
Can Collagen Protein Replace Protein Powder?
Not necessarily. The dedicated protein powder is perfectly created to promote muscle growth and recovery after workouts. As such it contains a concentration of a particular set of amino acids.
However, taking collagen after workouts can still be beneficial when consumed in conjunction with your traditional protein powder. The collagen will help speed up recovery and reduce joint pain associated with exercise and training.
In fact, a study was recently conducted with 147 athletes, where one half of the group received a collagen hydrolysate liquid formula and the other half a liquid placebo. The study spanned 24 weeks and the results showed collagen to be very effective at significantly reducing joint pain during rest periods. The participants who were given the collagen liquid formula also found it easier to carry objects, stand, walk and lift after a workout when compared to the placebo group.
With that said, there’s currently not enough evidence to make conclusive observations about collagen as a primary source of protein. However, you’re welcome to continue adding it to your morning beverages so long as you consume it in order to reap its proven benefits.
Natural Collagen Sources
Collagen is very similar to gelatin because it has similar properties. The only difference between the two is that collagen is easily absorbed by the body due to its ability to replicate the natural collagen protein found. Over time our collagen stores decrease due to ageing or deficiencies. That’s why it’s so important to supplement with collagen in order to restore some of the structural damage that a lack of it does to the body.
Keep in mind that you cannot substitute collagen for gelatin as the two proteins are different from one another. For instance, gelatin is often difficult to digest, especially for those who suffer from digestive issues. Collagen, on the other hand, is easy to digest because it comes in the form of bone broth and easily soluble peptides which can be added to any beverage for easy consumption.
Furthermore, hydrolysed collagen is produced in a way that increases its amino acid content. This makes it very effective at promoting the type of cell regeneration that supports skin tissue, connective tissue, cartilage, bones and ligaments etc. Since it has a lower molecular rate than gelatin, hydrolysed collagen is absorbed much faster.