What Are Collagen Peptides and Can They Help My Skin?
In case you’ve missed it, peptides are everywhere!
Aging consumers are ingesting collagen peptides in drinks and supplements, and applying beauty products fortified with peptides to their faces and bodies, all for their purported fountain-of-youth benefits.
In sports, athletes and bodybuilders are taking creatine peptide powders to enhance muscle-building and strength.
You may be wondering, what are peptides and what are their benefits? Or more importantly, do they work?
If you’re peptide curious, this is for you!
Peptides are essentially smaller, simpler versions of proteins. Both peptides and proteins are made up of strings of amino acids, which are held together by peptide bonds.
Peptides are shorter, basic chains of 2 to 50 amino acids, and proteins are longer, more complicated chains of 50 or more amino acids. Think of peptides as small bracelets of pearls, and proteins as long chains of pearls of varying lengths.
These remarkable molecules are synthesized in your body, from amino acids your body makes, or can come from your diet.
There are thousands of peptide types. These are vital to many systems in your body, including healing, bone and muscle regeneration, sleep regulation, and even weight loss. Scientists have created lab-made peptides that mimic some of those found in the body, which have been used in medications to treat different types of health issues.
The peptides available to consumers are mostly for anti-aging or muscle-building effects. Let’s start with collagen peptides, as they’re the most popular.
What Are Collagen Peptides?
To understand collagen peptides, it’s necessary to first learn about collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein that makes up the connective tissues in your body. You need an abundance of healthy collagen to keep your skin elastic, your nails and bones strong, and your joints youthful.
Collagen makes up approximately 80 percent of your skin. It works closely with elastin to give your skin its structure and maintain its shape. It also provides structure for cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and blood vessels.
Unfortunately, we start to lose a small percentage of collagen each year starting in our 20s. The body loses collagen faster than it can synthesize it. The quality of our collagen degrades too.
Lifestyle factors like excessive sun and pollution exposure, poor sleep, tobacco smoke, consumption of alcohol and sugar, and refined carbohydrates can make collagen degrade faster.
As a result, signs of aging – such as wrinkles and dry, sagging skin – become more prominent over time. The collagen in the skeletal system degrades with time, too, leading to brittle bones, and stiff, painful joints.
Collagen peptides (also known as hydrolyzed collagen) are collagen proteins that have been broken down into shorter chains of two or three amino acids, which allows them to be easily absorbed in the body’s GI tract. Collagen sources generally include marine (from fish skin and scales), bovine (from cow hide), and porcine (from pork skin).
Experts believe that when you supplement with collagen peptides, they’re readily absorbed and are then utilized in areas where they’re needed most.
Do Collagen Peptides Work?
That’s the million-dollar question! The answer is: a strong maybe.
The research on collagen peptides is still young, but promising. Research results indicate a host of anti-aging benefits, including the following:
The most significant study to date, a review analysis from 2019, looked at eleven studies with a total of 805 patients that used different forms of collagen peptides. The review found that supplementation improved skin elasticity and hydration in several of the studies, with another study showing anti-aging efficacy proportionate to the level of collagen peptide content.
Overall, it noted promising results for wound healing and skin aging and concluded that “oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density,” but advised more research is needed.
In other studies, collagen peptides have shown promise in helping to lessen joint pain. Experts believe that supplemental collagen may deposit in cartilage and stimulate collagen synthesis. In turn, this may help improve joint health and reduce pain levels in the body.
A randomized controlled trial on older adults found that collagen peptide supplementation, in combination with resistance training, increased muscle mass, strength, and fat loss.
Protection Against Bone Loss
Additional studies show that collagen supplementation may play a role in slowing bone loss, but more research is needed for this to be conclusive.
Collagen peptides used in skin care hasn’t been shown to be efficacious in reliable studies. Experts say that collagen peptides in skin care may help to lock in moisture, but that’s about all.
Several peptides have been used in the bodybuilding world to enhance muscle mass and increase strength. The safest, most widely used and accepted of them, are creatine peptides.
Evidence from exercise literature indicates that supplementing with creatine peptides may help to maintain ATP (an energy-carrying molecule) stores in the muscles during training. This can be very beneficial as it helps increase muscular force and power and reduce fatigue in repeated bout activities – which helps increase muscle mass.
Additionally, creatine can increase protein synthesis, which helps with muscle gain.
To Pep or Not to Pep?
There’s certainly enough research to make collagen and/or creatine peptides worth a try. Always, talk to your healthcare professional before trying a new supplement or product.
Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of protein-rich foods (like bone broth, beef, chicken, fish, beans, and eggs) in your diet. They provide the amino acid building blocks your body needs to synthesize its own collagen and creatine.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
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