What is a Peptide? The Science Behind Collagen Powders

Peptides are becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in different skin care products and other health products, particularly those that contain collagen. If you’re interested in looking and feeling your best (and who isn’t?), collagen powders containing peptides might be the ticket, but what is a peptide?

What is a peptide?

Peptides are a component of the proteins that your body needs in order to function properly. Also known as polypeptides, peptides are composed of anywhere from 2 to 50 amino acids and can be thought of as almost a miniature version of a protein. They link together to create chains of polypeptides that form collagen and other proteins. The body is able to use peptides more readily than larger proteins because they are smaller and easier to break down which allows them to more quickly penetrate the skin and intestines. 

The most beneficial peptides from a health standpoint are bioactive peptides, which have a beneficial effect on the body and health. Bioactive peptides are popular ingredients in healthcare products because they are believed to have a number of different benefits, including anti-aging, muscle building, and tension-soothing properties. Perhaps the best known ingredient associated with peptides is collagen, which is associated with a wide range of health benefits and can be found in a growing number of dietary supplements. 

What is collagen?

As noted above, peptides are commonly associated with products and supplements that are designed to increase the amount of collagen in the body, but what is collagen? Collagen accounts for about one third of all of the protein in the body, making it the body’s most abundant protein source. Collagen is found throughout the body and is found in the largest quantities in the skin and bones; collagen is also found in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, teeth, corneas, blood vessels, and organs. 

The protein of collagen provides structure to different parts of the body, and it is what keeps our bones strong, our skin hydrated and elastic, and our joints healthy and lubricated.  There are four different types of collagen:

  • Type I is the most abundant type of collagen in the body; about 90 percent of the body’s collagen is Type I. Type I collagen fibers are densely packed and very strong, which makes them ideally suited to providing strength and structure to different parts of the body, including the skin, bones, fibrous cartilage, teeth, connective tissue, and tendons.

  • Type II collagen is not as densely packed as Type I collagen and is more commonly found in elastic cartilage. Elastic cartilage provides cushion for the joints.

  • Type III collagen is used by the body to support soft tissues and blood vessels, including the muscles, arteries, and organs.

  • Type IV collagen is primarily found in the skin, where it helps the body filter out harmful foregin bodies from the environment.  

How do collagen powders work?

Collagen supplements such as collagen powder are purported to have many different health benefits, but how exactly do they work? Like other animals, humans naturally produce collagen on their own. Until the age of about 25, humans produce all of the collagen that they need, but around the age of 25, this amount starts to decline.The body begins to produce less collagen, and the collagen it does produce is of lower quality. Collagen powders work by supplementing the amount of collagen in the body with collagen from animal sources, including bovine collagen and marine collagen.

In addition to temporarily increasing the amount of collagen in the body through the addition of a supplement, collagen powder also stimulates the production of additional collagen by the body. The combination of supplemental collagen and increased production can result in significant health benefits for the body.

What are the health benefits of collagen?

Collagen is associated with many different benefits, the most well known of which are outlined below. While human studies regarding the effects of collagen on the body are promising, more research is needed to determine exactly how our bodies benefit from supplements like collagen powders. 

> Supports joint health.

Collagen is a major component of cartilage, a rubbery substance that coats the end of the bones and protects the joints. As we age and begin to produce less collage, the cartilage in the joints starts to deteriorate, which can cause discomfort. Studies show that collagen supplements can help support joint health, especially with people who are aging.

> Supports heart health.

As noted above, collagen fibers help to form the structures of the body, including the blood vessels. Collagen fibers provide structure to the arteries, which transport blood away from the heart and towards the rest of the body. If the arteries become brittle, weak, and fragile, they can start to narrow, which causes high blood pressure and increases your risk of experiencing potentially life threatening medical conditions like heart attack and stroke increases. Studies show that collagen powders can help reduce the stiffness of the arteries and increase the amount of “good” cholesterol in the body. 

> Support bone strength. 

Much of the body’s collagen is stored in the bones, where it plays a critical role in maintaining the strength and structure of the bones. As you age and begin to produce less collagen, your bone mass can deteriorate. Studies conducted on the effects of collagen powder on bone health found that taking a collagen supplement increased the bone mineral density of study participants by up to seven percent. 

> Improve skin health. 

Peptides and collagen are commonly associated with benefits for skin health and the prevention of premature signs of aging. Collagen is found in large quantities in the skin, and as our production of collagen declines with age, premature signs of aging start to pop up. Early signs of aging associated with the decline in collagen production include reduced elasticity, increased dryness, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Collagen powder is thought to improve skin health by encouraging the body to produce more collagen on its own and boosting collagen quality. Studies support the effectiveness of collagen for improved skin health, as taking as little as 2.5 grams of collagen per day for 8 weeks was found to contribute to a significant increase in skin elasticity and overall moisture. 

> Promote development of muscle mass. 

Approximately ten percent of your muscle tissue is composed of collagen, which helps maintain muscle strength and allows the muscles to function properly. Taking collagen supplements can help to preserve or increase muscle mass, which makes collagen a useful supplement for athletes who are trying to maximize their athletic performance as well as aging people who want to prevent losing too much muscle. 

> Strengthen hair and nails. 

Collagen has been found to reduce brittleness and weakness in the hair and nails, contributing to a healthier appearance and stronger hair and nails.  

> May support gut health. 

More research is needed, but anecdotal evidence suggests that collagen may help to improve gut health by reducing symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability. 

> May support mental health. 

Although more research is needed, some people claim that collagen supplements help to improve overall mood and reduce feelings of stress and tension. 

> May support healthy weight loss. 

Some people believe that collagen powder may help you lose weight more quickly by supporting a healthy metabolism. 

Summary

Peptides are smaller forms of proteins that are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body and skin, making them highly effective when included in supplements. Collagen powders contain peptides that help to improve the health and appearance of the body, including promoting joint health, skin health, heart health, bone health, and more. Orgain’s collagen powders make it easy to get the collagen you need to look and feel your best!

 

Sources: 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326701 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429168/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793325/ 

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