Magazine, Molecules

What is collagen?

Collagen Collagen Peptides Moleqlar Supplement Capsules

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body. It makes up a large part of our connective tissue, which consists of long, fibrous molecules. Depending on its composition, collagen can have different properties. For example, collagen gives structure to our skin, and collagen built into tendons provides greater tensile strength.

With age, the collagen content decreases more and more. The consequences: Our skin structure becomes brittle and wrinkles, while our tendons are no longer as resilient as they once were. What the background is and how you can partially stop this decline, you will learn here.

Collagen in our body: The structural basis

With a share of just under 30%, collagen is by far the most abundant protein in our body. It is formed by specialized cells called fibroblasts. In the process, three amino acids are strung together until long, fiber-like molecules are formed. It always starts with Glycine.

The long, thread-like molecules are subsequently connected to form a so-called triple helix. Imagine a braided pigtail, that's what the collagen structures look like. Finally, these intertwined molecules are first arranged in smaller packages to form "fibrils", which in turn form the collagen fibers due to their large number.

Did you know? Two important enzymes in collagen synthesis, prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase, both require vitamin C as a cofactor. Without enough vitamin C, these enzymes cannot attach the important hydroxyl groups that are later needed for cross-linking. Put simply, the resulting collagen would be significantly more unstable.

Collagen peptides collagen powder Moleqlar
Low-molecular collagen peptides in powder form are one way to prevent the age-related decline in collagen levels.

The framework for healthy and firm skin

The collagen in our skin is constantly being formed by the fibroblasts. The large collagen fibers serve as a kind of taut net in which the various other molecules are arranged. Too much UV light and age lead to a lower collagen content over time. The result: our skin wrinkles. But what is the reason for this?

As always, there is no simple answer to a rather complex question. Several factors are known to researchers. Firstly, UV radiation damages our skin in two ways: firstly, the fibroblasts are inhibited in their activity, so that less new collagen is formed, and secondly, there is increased damage to the skin, which activates so-called collagenases. These enzymes "digest" collagen that is actually functional.

In addition, the composition of the collagen fibers changes with age. They become thinner, so that our skeleton becomes visibly more fragile. The exact cause of this is not yet fully understood. One hypothesis is that with age the blood supply, especially through the tiny vessels, becomes poorer and thus collagen formation is impaired.

Interestingly, UV damage seems to be independent of this. This means that here we have an effective starting point to prevent premature aging of the skin: Regular application of a UV-protective sun milk (preferably 50+) can effectively prevent skin aging.

Did you know? Besides collagen, hyaluron is enormously important for healthy skin and joints. While collagen is insoluble in water and scores mainly for stability and firmness, hyaluron binds extraordinarily large amounts of water and thus provides volume. Nevertheless, the hyaluron content in our skin decreases with age, which makes it appear less "plump". Some studies have shown that oral supplementation with high molecular weight hyaluron can reduce the depth of wrinkles. Read more: What is hyaluron?

Collagen Skin Hyaluron Health Supplement
Collagen and hyaluron fight together for more skin elasticity and health in old age.

Fewer wrinkles due to collagen?

With both hyaluron and collagen, it can be observed that lower levels lead to more wrinkles with age. The logical consequence: we must manage to raise the collagen concentration again. We have already seen one way to do this.

With sufficient sun protection, we can effectively protect our skin from harmful UV radiation. This alone is usually only a partial step - ideally, we manage to stimulate collagen production. However, we cannot simply apply collagen to our skin for this purpose. The molecule is much too large and would never get through our skin barrier. Another way is through our gastrointestinal tract, where we can absorb collagen.

Did you know? The amino acid glycine is not only the ultimate for the skin. As a neurotransmitter, the molecule helps regulate nerve impulses and also promotes muscle growth. This amino acid has also aroused interest in aging research.

GlyNAC - the combination of glycine and N-acetyl cysteine - has been shown to stop ageing in both humans and animals by supporting the production of glutathione - our body's most important free radical scavenger. More at: What is GlyNAC?

Low-molecular vs. high-molecular - a small but subtle difference

As already mentioned, collagen consists of very long, string-like molecules. These are found, for example, in some animal products, such as bone marrow, chicken skin or fish. After ingestion, these collagen molecules are broken down by the stomach acid and split into their amino acids. What sounds disadvantageous at first is actually necessary. The individual amino acids can be absorbed by the intestine into our body - collagen as a whole would not pass through our intestinal wall.

If one wants to supplement collagen, it is preferably already broken down into smaller pieces and additionally packed in a protein shell. Without this "preparation" it seems to have no effect. The studies on humans were conducted either with a high molecular weight collagen, which means that there were large collagen chains in the protein envelopes, or with low molecular weight collagen. If you look at the studies more closely, low-molecular collagen shows significantly better results.

The authors of this study also provide an explanation for this. The smaller molecules can be better absorbed by our intestines and thus reach the skin, where ultimately collagen synthesis is stimulated. With larger molecules, we have the problem that our intestines cannot fully absorb them and instead they are decomposed.

Powder collagen skin health joints
Eyes open when choosing the right collagen supplement. According to studies, low-molecular preparations are significantly more efficient.

Collagen as an osteoarthritis killer - what's the truth?

In addition to the skin, we find collagen in our joints and the tendons with which our muscles attach to the bones. Here too, as we age, we see that the collagen density decreases. Our joints ache due to arthritic changes, the tendons can no longer carry the load as efficiently as they did in earlier years, and we become "stiffer" overall. Can collagen also help here?

To answer this question, we can look at this metastudy. A metastudy is a research study that brings together and evaluates as many studies as possible on the same question. In this way, one tries to eliminate random results and get a little closer to the "truth".

The researchers found that a daily intake of 5-15g of collagen resulted in improved joint function and less pain. The older the subjects were, the more they benefited from daily collagen intake to boost strength. This effect was smaller in younger, fitter subjects, but could be increased with the addition of vitamin C.

Vitaminc cofactor collagen bioavailability
Citrus fruits are an important natural source of vitamin C - an essential co-factor for the synthesis of collagen.

Here, researchers found that vitamin C, in concert with collagen supplementation, can increase production by fibroblasts. This also makes sense if you can remember the complicated-sounding enzymes involved in collagen biosynthesis. Two of them require vitamin C as a co-factor.

One final, interesting fact that the scientists bring out in their meta-analysis is the effect of collagen on muscle recovery time after a workout. Here, a small but measurable improvement in time was found when subjects took collagen.

Did you know? Have you ever heard of brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta)? This rare, genetic disease is caused by a disorder in collagen formation. There are 11 different forms of the disease. Depending on the severity of the disease, the brittleness of the bones increases to such an extent that they literally shatter like glass.

Summary

Collagen is one of our most important structural proteins. However, as we age, the amount of collagen decreases, leading to wrinkles and weaker tendons, as well as joints. To prevent this degradation, we have several options. We can protect our skin from UV radiation and at the same time stimulate collagen biosynthesis by giving our body the necessary building blocks in the form of peptides.

The devil is in the details. For collagen, low-molecular preparations such as the MoleQlar collagenare ideal, while hyaluron, for example, is much more effective in its high-molecular form. Together, hyaluron and collagen form an effective duo for your structural health!

Hyaluron (hyaluronic acid)

24,90 

691,67  / kg

GlyNAC (glycine & N-acetyl-cysteine)

34,90 

324,65  / kg

Collagen (collagen peptides)

32,90 

73,11  / kg

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