In order to achieve supple and glowing skin, 8 out of 10 women have purchased collagen supplements. If you're reading this, you're probably one of the 8.
Collagen supplements come in various forms - beverages, powders, and pills.
The big question is: Do they really work? And if so, how do you choose the best collagen product on the market?
In order to answer these questions, you'll first need to understand the following:
1. What are collagen products made of?
The active ingredient in collagen supplements falls into 2 categories - Collagen and Collagen Peptides. Their main difference lies in their size.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein that forms the building blocks of our skin, connective tissue, and bones. Inside every collagen particle is a chain of amino acids, and it is these amino acids that give the chain its identity.
If you look at collagen under a microscope, it'll resemble a gigantic, long, twisted chain.
The large size and twisted shape are crucial in order to build a strong structure for our skin and bones. But this large chain of collagen cannot be broken down easily by our body to be absorbed by our bloodstream.
That is the main problem with ingesting collagen supplements.
What are Collagen Peptides?
To get past the size problem, scientists invented a wonderful technology called enzymatic hydrolysis.
Ignore the fancy name and just think of enzymes acting like a pair of scissors, cutting up the gigantic collagen chain into tiny bits. These tiny bits are now called collagen peptides or hydrolysed collagen.
Since they are tiny enough, collagen peptides can be transported to where they are needed - into the cells of our skin, connective tissue, and bones. Inside these areas, the tiny collagen peptides will reunite with one another and combine into collagen's original long, twisted chain structure.
2. Size does matter
Many collagen supplements on the market will state the size of their collagen peptides. This size is represented by numbers like 900D, 700D, 400D. The smaller the number, the smaller the size of the collagen peptides.
So is smaller necessarily better?
In short, no.
Remember that in order to build a strong structure, collagen peptides need to recombine into a long, twisted chain. If the collagen peptides are too tiny, they won't contain enough amino acids to serve their function. Also, our body won't be able to recognise these collagen peptides because their identifiers have been destroyed.
Therefore, the best collagen peptides are a combination of small molecules and macromolecules. In numbers, this is represented by 700D to 3000D.
3. Where does the collagen come from?
You cannot make a great product from poor ingredients.
Many supplement brands use collagen that's derived from cows, sheep, and pigs. We do not recommend it because of their high fat content as well as risk of diseases.
Our preference at InnerPur is to use fish collagen.
Fish contains 25%-30% of collagen and it's found mainly in the fish scales and skin.
As there is no blood circulation within fish scales, the risk of environmental pollution is much lower as compared to fish skin. In our opinion, fish scales provide the safest source of collagen. Moreover, fish scales contain a much higher protein, peptide, and hydroxyproline content than fish skin.
As a bonus, fish scales do not contain fat!
The type of fish matters too
Not all fish are made equal.
In Asia, many brands of collagen supplements obtain their raw ingredients from the Tilapia fish. This is because Tilapia is naturally high in collagen.
However, Tilapia exists in either rivers or shallow waters. Inevitably, it is exposed to many industrial pollutants and often contain high levels of heavy metals and microbes. In fact, friends who love fishing will know that the Tilapia can survive in very shallow waters, even within stinking ditches. Having said that, deep-sea fish isn't always the best either because there are increasing instances of deep sea pollution.
At InnerPur, we are obsessive about the sourcing of ingredients. We insist on using collagen peptides that originate from clean, certified-sustainable fish. These often come from New Zealand, Norway, and France.
4. Which formulation is best?
Collagen products can be found in every drugstore. They exist in liquid form, capsules, powders, and so on. But which is the best?
Firstly, we do not recommend liquid collagen. This is because collagen is a protein and often loses its stability when mixed into liquids.
Furthermore, liquids tend to have a shorter shelf life and are easily affected by light and high temperatures. In Singapore, this poses a problem.
That's why manufacturers often add preservatives in order to ensure a long shelf life.
On another note, have you wondered why collagen drinks often come in rich fruity flavours? This is because fish collagen, especially those that originate from poorer quality fish, have a fishy stench. Therefore, strong flavours are needed to mask the stench.
Pills and tablets
Do you remember having difficulty swallowing pills and tablets when you were a child? Almost all pills were bitter and triggered a gag reflex.
But magically, pills nowadays are often tasteless. Have you wondered why?
In order to combat the awful taste of pills, manufacturers have come up with a solution - coating. Sadly, these coatings are of chemical origin and as such, we do not recommend long-term usage.
In our opinion, powder formulations are the safest and most effective. This is because powders are dry in nature and dry environments do not encourage the growth of germs. This ensures a long shelf life without the need for preservatives.
Powders are also unaffected by light or heat, allowing them to remain stable and effective over long periods of time. Finally, powders rank higher in terms of purity and are non-greasy.
5. Collagen needs friends
Remember earlier that collagen peptides must be transported into the different parts of our body in order to carry out its work of rebuilding?
To do so, collagen requires the help of its best friends - Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10.
Think of them as vehicles which transport collagen to where it's needed. Coenzyme Q10 exists naturally in our bodies but depletes with age.
It also cannot be absorbed from the food we eat and therefore, supplementation is required. This is why an effective collagen product often contains Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10 along with collagen peptides.
In summary, collagen supplements do work but only if they fulfil the following criteria:
- The right size of collagen peptides
- Good quality fish
- The right formulation
- The addition of Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10.
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