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Collagen supplements and creams: do they work really?

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Published on Jan 20, 2020

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Collagen supplements and creams: do they work really? The use of supplements of collagen is now common for a long time, but in recent years it has become a fashion product. But it is a new found scientific or pure marketing? Let's find out together!

As first thing let's try to understand what it is and what functions it performs. Collagen is naturally present in our body; it is in fact the most abundant protein, and accounts for 35% of the total protein of human body. Plays a fundamental role in the structure and function of organs and tissues including bones, joints, cartilage, skin, muscle tissue and many other tissues and structures (as, for example, teeth, blood vessels, hair, and walls of the small intestine).

A young body which does not have any particular health problems is perfectly able to produce and degrade collagen. After 30 years of age (approximately) the body is no longer able to replenish the physiologic losses, or to create stock. And it is here that you begin to see the first signs of aging:

That's why in the market there are more and more products with added collagen. Is found in the form of supplements, creams, or even water, added to hydrolyzed collagen. But can they really be useful or are the usual marketing gimmick?

When we want to understand whether a thing can really work the best thing to do is to turn to science. Dario Bressanini, a well-known science writer, teaches us that there is no need to eat collagen to produce collagen. An example clarifier that immediately sets in as clear a fundamental aspect to keep in mind. He says that, as we must not eat blood to produce the blood, we don't need to eat collagen to produce collagen.

The body naturally produces collagen, starting from the protein ingested. It makes sense, therefore, taking supplements of collagen to improve the firmness of our skin and combat aging?

Collagen is a protein only animal that is extracted from the cattle, from the pigs or the fish (The marine collagen is extracted from fish.)

The proteins that we eat pass in the stomach and are denatured, i.e. ‘broken’ until you get to the individual amino acids. Our body takes them and uses them to build our proteins. Are then built in our interior exactly where you need it.

It is true that there are substances that we cannot produce and we need to assimilate (e.g. some vitamins) but it is also true that the proteins we are able to produce them by using the amino acids present in all proteins that we eat. To build collagen is essential to take the vitamin c, But taking supplements of collagen, we cannot get it exactly where we want (see skin); it will, instead, be distributed in a natural way the where you need it.

When you want to thoroughly understand a question it is good to rely on the scientific studies performed. We must, however, know how to evaluate. Understand how many people were taken to the sample, if they are sufficient to do statistics, who was commissioned to research and also how it is carried out.

Nowadays there are no scientific studies made with a significant percentage of people taken to the sample. The studies done comparing samples that are too small of people to whom it was given the protein supplement, with people given a placebo.

There is, therefore, a fundamental error which does not make it properly reliable to the study: it would be necessary to compare the results obtained by people who had taken the same amount of protein in order to demonstrate the added value of the integrator with respect to the simple, healthy food. This is because if a person part from a diet poor in proteins, and begins to takes through supplements, it is almost obvious that it will see improvements.

Moreover, there are no clinical trials on larger control groups.

What is the cost of the supplements of collagen? That's a lot! And if we take into account the fact that it is a protein, like all those present in protein foods should rely on a healthy and varied diet. Once taken under the form of a supplement our gut does not distinguish whether the proteins that come come from food (meat, legumes, eggs...) or a tablet.

The other important thing to add: our body uses them where there is need and their destination does not change according to the source. The proteins introduced with the food or with supplements is not necessarily going to form new collagen in the skin, and ingested in capsules will not go at all to recompact the skin of the face, but it will distribute evenly where it is needed, eliminating the excess part with the feces.

The collagen provided by the supplements, then, is not at all conveyed to where, let us (that is the skin or the joints). You will notice an improvement in the growth and texture of nails, an improved elasticity of the joints, but do not expect miraculous effects on connective tissue.

Remember, however, that our body is not able to produce collagen if our diets are missing the other essential elements for its synthesis, in addition to the proteins for which those who want a radiant skin compact and elastic and tonic must forgo drastic diets and lack of vitamins, and proteins.

So, what to do to improve the situation of our skin?

One of the uses the most popular and the most publicized of the collagen is the anti-ageing process. According to many manufacturers the creams would in fact be able to counteract wrinkles and signs of aging. Also in this case, what we ask is “does it really Work?”

Collagen is a protein and is the main component of our skin (represents 25% of the weight of ‘dry’ skin and bones in all mammals. The plot of the collagen fibers, with time, becomes more rarefied and the elastic fibers break. This happens because the proteins produced but also a lifestyle for abuse (such as smoking, poor diet, or exposure to the sun without adequate protection).

We immediately remember an important thing: the skin serves as a barrier and not everything that we put above (thankfully) manages to penetrate. The collagen has a high molecular weight, and then:

Few substances that can penetrate the skin and reach the epidermis. Even less those that reach the dermis. The collagen remains on the surface. This, however, does not make it a cream useless. While remaining on the surface is able to moisturize the skin making it radiant and more beautiful. Not a failure on the whole line, but always remember that there are no anti-wrinkle creams and that is the only way you can prevent them. A cream enriched with collagen is not able to increase the amount of collagen in the skin but is still able to improve the appearance.

Hydrolyzed collagen what is it?

It is a type of collagen that, because it is subjected to alkaline hydrolysis and enzyme, has a molecular weight of less. Even if the molecular weight is lowered still fails to penetrate into the skin.

At this point, we repeat:

The cosmetic products based on collagen (creams for the face and body or vials topical) do not stimulate at all the cutaneous production of this element, which is not absorbed in the sottoderma, and most supplements collagen can be safely replaced with a healthy and balanced diet.

The article Collagen, supplements, and creams, really work? comes from Workout-Italy.

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