Are collagen supplements effective for skin and joint care?

The collagen in supplements breaks down when it reaches the stomach.

Collagen is the protein most abundant in our body and is part of the structures of the skinThe bones waves joints. With age that lack collagen and increase wrinkles and the flaccidity or inconvenience articular.

The collagen supplements promise to compensate for this loss and are perceived as a anti-aging ally. They are one of best selling products in parapharmacies and famous as Madonna That is Jennifer Anistonwho claim to take it, have contributed to the boom they are experiencing, but does taking collagen supplements really help restore collagen lost in skin, joints or bones? Dr. Anna Costa, nutritionist dietitian and clinical director of NutriClínica, explains to Saber Vivir why they are not really effective.

Where is collagen found and what is its function?

Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is found in:

  • epithelial cells. They are found in the first two layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis) and in the inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) and hollow organs such as the endometrium or the intestines. Epithelial cells are elongated and their skeleton (cytoskeleton) is made up of collagen and forms a kind of braid that goes from one end of the cell to the other. Collagen is responsible for the elasticity of these tissues, be it the skin or the endothelium of the arteries. When we pinch the skin, it immediately springs back into place thanks to the collagen.

  • In bones and joints. Collagen is also found between the cells that form bones (osteocytes and osteoblasts) and acts as a cement between them.

What happens when you take a collagen supplement?

Collagen is a braid-shaped protein made up of a amino acid sequence. When we eat a extra charge collagen or other protein food It has to go through the whole digestion process first. In this process, gastric juices from the stomach break down collagen into smaller parts, then digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestine break it down further. Ultimately, the only thing that manages to cross the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream is one, two, or at most three amino acids together, but it’s no longer collagen.

When these amino acids are in the blood to get to the liver, the body has no way of identify its origin; they can come from a collagen supplement, meat, lentils, or yogurt.

Do collagen supplements help replenish collagen in skin or joints?

“Amino acids from collagen supplements that manage to pass into the blood they have no memory might as well know they had been collagen and just go to the parts of the body where that protein is, like the skin or the joints. They are stored by the liver and released when cells need them to make hormones, neurotransmittersenzymes to perform a specific function, antibodies… or it ends up eliminating them”says Dr. Anna Costa, doctor in biology and food technologist and spokesperson for the College of Dieticians-Nutritionists of Catalonia (CoDiNuCat).

“To think that if we take collagen supplements, they will end up directly in the structures of skin or bone collagen is wrong. Therefore, it is a myth that collagen supplements are useful for recovery before a bone fracture or for reducing facial wrinkles and sagging”he rocks.

Do collagen supplements provide more protein than food?

You can get the necessary collagen through feed without the need to take supplements. There are many foods that contain this protein (meat, fatty fish, eggs, etc.).

“Eat a piece of 150 grams of meat you are already getting triple the amino acids that a supplement gives you”emphasizes the specialist.

How can we help prevent collagen loss?

It is normal that with age we lose collagen, but to prevent this loss from accelerating we must take the necessary proteins through diet and above all, avoid anything that destroys collagen.

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, ultra-processed carbohydrates and sugar because they cause blood sugar spikes, giving rise to a phenomenon called glycation or glycosylation, a spontaneous chemical reaction that occurs between glucose and proteins, giving rise to molecules called AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) that cause oxidative damage , inflammation and cell death . This is why a diet high in sugars accelerates the destruction of collagen and causes premature aging.
  • Avoid too much sun. Excess ultraviolet radiation reduces the production of collagen.
  • avoid tobacco. It decreases the production of collagen and promotes its destruction.
  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. They provide antioxidants (carotenoids, chlorophyll, anthocyanins, etc.) which sequester free radicals which attack cellular metabolism. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best ally for healthy skin because over the years the body loses its ability to keep free radicals at bay.
  • Ensure the daily dose of Vitamin C. In addition to being an antioxidant, vitamin C helps build collagen. All fruits and vegetables provide vitamin C, but some, such as peppers or kiwis, in greater quantities. An adult person needs about 80 mg of vitamin C per day (a little more for men and a little less for women).

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