Understanding Types of Collagen
Collagen is one of the most important substances in the human body. Not only is it vital to the health of skin, but it's also vital to the health of cartilage and joints as well. Collagen supplements are everywhere, and from a lot of different sources. So how does a person know the differences, and whether fish collagen or amino collagen, or type 2 collagen from rooster comb is the most effective collagen supplement for them? Before you can really answer that question, you need to know a little bit more about collagen in general.
Collagen is a large, complex molecule, and can't really be absorbed into the body in its natural state. Collagen is too large to absorb into the skin from topical lotions and too large not to be broken down by the stomach. For this reason, supplement and cosmetic makers have tried to find clever ways of modifying the collagen to make it more bio-available and useful, doing things like partially digesting it with enzymes to help the body make better use of it. Another thing that supplement makers have done is to take the more important elements vital to healthy collagen and deliver those in supplement form. One such element vital to the health of collagen is hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most important components of collagen, helping collagen maintain moisture and elasticity. Hyaluronic acid is a very unique compound, having moisturizing capabilities far greater than almost any other compound. Hyaluronic acid is able to absorb 3,000 times its own weight in water. That's a pretty incredible feat. It's vital, not only to the health of collagen, but also to the synovial fluid inside joints as well. Synovial fluid coats cartilage inside of joints and provides an extra barrier and cushion. Synovial fluid is largely comprised of hyaluronic acid. Many people prefer to supplement with hyaluronic acid instead of collagen because hyaluronic acid is generally more bio-available and contributes directly to collagen health. I've left you a link below to a very good maker of hyaluronic acid supplements. This particular supplement uses a patented type 2 collagen, which has undergone an absorption enhancing hydrolyzation process which produces low molecular weight hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can vary greatly in molecular weight, because of the size of the molecule, and the lower the weight, the better the absorption.
Fish collagen is another form of collagen that's often found in supplement form. Fish collagen is also known as fish peptide collagen and amino collagen. There is some debate as to just how bio-available this form of collagen is, and how much actually reaches joint cartilage and skin tissue intact without being broken down. Fish amino collagen definitely seems to be more bio-available than collagen from pigs, but testimonials are mixed as to its effectiveness.
One thing that I like to see with a fish amino collagen supplement is additions of other collagen boosting compounds. We already talked about hyaluronic acid and how it's vital to the health of collagen, but another compound that heavily promotes healthy collagen is vitamin C. The supplement I linked to below contains all three compounds. Having all three of these compounds together in one supplement can be a great way to boost collagen levels from multiple different angles.
Type 2 Rooster Comb Collagen
Rooster comb collagen is also known as type 2 collagen. The next section will cover the difference between type 1 and type 2 collagen. Rooster comb has been shown to have some of the most plentiful and beneficial collagen for the human body. Rooster comb can be found in many supplements, but it's also used intravenously in injections. Rooster comb injections can be given directly into the knee to help battle arthritis and natural deterioration of the joints. Though there are mixed results as to the long term effectiveness of rooster comb injections in the knees, many people attempt to avoid knee replacement entirely with injections and other natural methods.
As far as rooster comb collagen supplements go, many supplements claim to have their own patented variation on the type 2 rooster comb collagen, each maker claiming that their own hydrolyzed collagen is the most bio-available. For more on the bio-availability of hydrolyzed collagen, see the section below. It's difficult to say which supplement maker has the best, most bio-available rooster comb collagen, but from my research, the one that I like the best is the Biocell Collagen 2, which I've linked to just below.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Collagen
There are many different types of collagen found in the body, but primarily, collagen falls into the category of type 1, 2, or 3. In supplements, most collagen comes from either type 1 or type 2 animal collagen. Sources of animal collagen are generally fish, pigs, and rooster. The difference in the types of collagen is generally in the rigidity and elasticity of the collagen. Type 1 collagen, for example, is more rigid than type 2 collagen, which makes it better for your bones. Type 2 collagen, on the other hand, is a bit softer and is found correspondingly in softer tissue such as the skin, joint cartilage, hair, eyes, and more. It's sometimes difficult to tell whether the supplement you're taking comes from type 1 or type 2 collagen. The label doesn't always say. But for the joints and the skin, type 2 collagen is usually the best.
Many collagen supplements out there come in the form of hydrolyzed collagen, also called peptide collagen. The hydrolysis process used on collagen is done in order to break the collagen down into smaller components. The hydrolysis process reduces collagen proteins in molecular size, down from a value of around 300,000 Daltons, down to between 2000 and 5000 Daltons. Collagen in its natural state is a very large molecule and not very bio-available. The body has a very hard time absorbing it, both through the stomach as well as through the skin. In order to give the body a helping hand at breaking it down, collagen is hydrolyzed and sometimes even partially predigested in order to make it as bio-available as possible. So when looking for collagen supplements, finding hydrolyzed collagen is definitely something to look for.
Food Sources of Collagen
Collagen is a type of fiber found in the connective tissue inside the body. There is connective tissue everywhere in the body, in the skin, bones, ligaments, muscles, and organs. Collagen also is found in most places in the body. Collagen is actually a protein, made primarily of two amino acids, hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. These two amino acids are found primarily in animal proteins. That being said though, studies haven't concluded whether or not a diet high in these amino acids will encourage the formation of collagen. Collagen is a complex molecule that seems to decline naturally over time. Here are some foods that help the body build and support healthy collagen:
- Vitamin C, Especially From Berries
- Egg Whites
- Fish Oil
- Green Tea (Helps prevent collagen breakdown)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
elen on September 22, 2012:
what about type 3?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 12, 2011:
Thanks Rosie. I'm starting to like some of the new collagen supplements to hit the market because they're beneficial to both the skin as well as the joints. Before, collagen wasn't very bio-available, but the newest supplements are much better than the first generation ones. Thanks for stopping by!
Rosie Rose from Toronto, Canada on October 12, 2011:
Hiya Benji, very interesting hub on collagen. I had never paid attention to collagen supplements before, but you gave interesting information that validate their advantages. Good job. Cheers!
Have a nice day,