Collagen- the new buzz word in the supplement industry which is touted towards the support and development of joint and connective tissue health, maintenance and growth of muscle mass, improvement in bone health to just name a few.
But how does research stand against all these claims?
Firstly, what is Collagen?
It is the most abundant protein found in the animal kingdom and in humans (and some vertebrates) which comprises up to 1/3rd of total protein mass in the body. In our body, there are 16 variants of collagen, 80-90% of which are types 1-3
(Knowing all the variants is not quite necessary)
SO simply put, it's something which our body has inbuilt stores of. However, anyone who has taken any basic nutrition course (if you wish to learn all of this, our CNSC course might just be the right investment for you), was taught that collagen protein is the one animal protein source which is comparatively inferior.
Is it a low quality protein then?
In terms of amino acids (AA), its ratio between indispensable: dispensable AA is quite low and it does not have the essential amino acid (EAA) tryptophan which classifies collagen protein as an ‘incomplete’ protein.
But before you just hang up on this, hold on. Collagen Protein has high content of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (pro tip to remember: anything ending with -ine is an amino acid and all these are produced in the body) which makes it functionally unique among other proteins.
And that is where the magic happens.
Let’s sum it up with evidence and the use cases of collagen!
(This can be your go-to cheat sheet about collagen)
#1 Collagen Protein for connective tissue and dermatology applications:
Use of collagen for strengthening ligaments and tendons.
Reduced activity joint pain as well as for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis (supplementing with 12g/day improved above mentioned symptoms)
#2 Collagen Protein for Muscle Building:
On a non-directive comparison (standalone use of collagen in study only and not with other sources) collagen supplementation has shown to increase strength and lean body mass (LBM) in older and younger adults. But again these results were not from a direct comparison study.
In direct comparison- (drum rolls please) whey has outperformed collagen for decreasing android fat (no, not the mobile OS; Android is described as fat distribution around the mid-section, dominant male body type) and increasing acute & longer-term muscle protein synthesis.
The effective dosing ranges 8-15 g
15 g/day resulted in lean mass & strength gains (note that these results were not from direct comparisons to other proteins).
So our final say.
On a purely context dependent basis, collagen protein does hold some credibility in improving connective tissue health with nearly 12g/day dosage, however for muscle building, it is a sub-optimal supplement when compared with whey protein usage.
1: Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W.H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix.
2: Poortmans JR, Carpentier A, Pereira-Lancha LO, Lancha A Jr. Protein turnover, amino acid requirements and recommendations for athletes and active populations. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2012 Oct;45(10):875-90.
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10: Sugihara F, Inoue N, Venkateswarathirukumara S. Ingestion of bioactive collagen hydrolysates enhanced pressure ulcer healing in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 30;8(1):11403.
11:Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16.
12: Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45
13: Jendricke P, Centner C, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A, König D. Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 20;11(4):892
14: Kirmse M, Oertzen-Hagemann V, de Marées M, Bloch W, Platen P. Prolonged Collagen peptide supplementation and resistance exercise training affects body composition in recreationally active men. Nutrients. 2019 May 23;11(5):1154
15: Giglio BM, Schincaglia RM, da Silva AS, Fazani ICS, Monteiro PA, Mota JF, Cunha JP, Pichard C, Pimentel GD. Whey protein supplementation compared to collagen increases blood nesfatin concentrations and decreases android fat in overweight women: a randomized double- blind study. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 2;11(9):2051
16: Oikawa SY, Kamal MJ, Webb EK, McGlory C, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Whey protein but not collagen peptides stimulate acute and longer-term muscle protein synthesis with and without resistance exercise in healthy older women: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;111(3):708-718