How much we do really know?

In this article we cover:

  • Why collagen supplements have dubious results

  • How Skin+Beyond improves collagen synthesis by 200% and protects collagen and elastin from breakdown

  • How Skin+Beyond also protects collagen in joints from damage and loss

Collagen is just about everywhere you look these days; apart from making up 25% of the total protein content of your body, it finds its way into supermarkets, health food shops, skin creams, protein drinks, protein bars, weight loss products etc.

With so many vendors making it part of their product offering, it would be prudent to take a closer look at how much we really know about it, and does it work or is it just marketing hype and what does the science say.

Essential for strength, elasticity and beauty

Promoters of collagen correctly make the point that collagen is basically the body’s glue making up 75% of skin, essential for strength, elasticity and beauty; it makes up cartilage, the shock absorber for the joints, it strengthens bones and acts as the scaffolding for cells in connective tissue e.g. skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, hair and nails.

“While there is some evidence that collagen supplements improve skin and other connective tissue, the studies are scant and not based on the general population”, according to Dr. Justine Kluk, a London based consultant dermatologist in a recent article for Elle magazine.(1)

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at Skin55 goes on to say, “Collagen is metabolised in the gut into smaller peptides and subsequently into their constituent amino acids, and further postulates that there is scant evidence that consuming complete collagen will overcome the digestive process and make it to the skin via the blood stream in appreciable amounts to tangibly change the skin’s make up or function.”

Dr Mahto further points out that, “Many of the novel collagen products are comprised of peptides often referred to as fragments, and some industry proponents argue that these peptides trick the body into thinking that collagen has been metabolised, thus stimulating new production from the constituent amino acids. However I would treat this theory with caution due to the lack of properly validated, clinical trials.”

Remember the scant evidence there is from lab setting trials has been conducted by collagen sellers, and as the saying goes, they have vested interests.

The cost is also an issue when you balance it up against the lack of efficacy and then further consider the ability of glycine to double the production of collagen as well as protect it from breakdown along with pomegranate extract (POMx) that also shows collagen boosting properties.

Glycine and collagen synthesis
Although there are 3 main amino acids that comprise collagen, glycine seems to play a pivotal role in the production of collagen evidenced by the fact that blood levels for glycine are well under the established concentrations needed for optimum collagen synthesis.

Further collagen comprises one third of bodily protein, and with every third amino acid being glycine in the collagen matrix; this makes glycine the most abundant amino acid.(2)

There are two other pre-requisite amino acids required for collagen production, namely proline and lysine with lysine being responsible for the scaffolding structure within the collagen matrix.

Fortunately these two amino acids tend to be at normal blood concentrations needed for collagen synthesis, but glycine levels have been established by researchers to fall well short for optimal collagen production. This is backed up by a 2018 study that suggests adding 10g of glycine to the diet via supplementation on a daily basis boosts collagen synthesis by 200%.(3)

Further collagen hydrolysate contains 33% glycine or 25% of its mass, thus 10g of hydrolysate (some collagen shots only have 7g or 8g per daily dosage) gives 2.5g of glycine, that is insufficient for metabolic needs. It may produce a slight improvement, but better results could be achieved with a daily dose of 10g of glycine, the amount we are using in our Skin+Beyond powder drink.(3)

To compound the problem with collagen shots further, gelatine or collagen hydrolysate are not beneficial as proline or lysine sources because they are hydroxylated forms, which means about 30% to 50% of these amino acid residues are useless for reutilisation.(4) Therefore although results with collagen hydrolysate may be moderate, they are an indication of the glycine needed to stimulate cartilage regeneration. Remember we are talking about all connective tissue here including skin.

Furthermore collagen supplements don’t protect the existing collagen that is produced from degradation via glycation and the collagen and elastin degrading enzymes also known as matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs. POMx and free glycine exhibits impressive collagen protection properties that you can read about at the blog, “Pomegranate and skin health”.

This is why Skin+Beyond offers an “All in one skin solution” as well as many other health benefits.

The dark side of collagen
There is a dark side to be aware of when it comes to collagen and that is one of toxicity, but this pertains to animal derived collagen and not vegan friendly collagen.

Collagen creates a spongy, water filled matrix in the body; hence the reason why it’s so great at cushioning joints and making your skin look and feel supple. The problem is that this spongy matrix also entraps toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, parabens and other chemical contaminants.

Because collagen is made from ground up animal parts e.g. fish, chickens, pigs and cows, the toxins in the environment and in the diets of the animals accumulate in the collagen; as a result the collagen becomes a potential source of concentrated and unregulated toxicity for consumers.

This is especially an issue with glyphosate, the globally recognised herbicide that uses the very familiar brand name Roundup; Glyphosate believe it or not has a similar chemical structure to the amino acid, glycine that acts as a mimic to glycine, the primary amino acid in collagen.(5)

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT and a leading authority on Glyphosate (Roundup®), “Glyphosate substitution for conserved glycines can easily explain a link with diabetes, obesity, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary edema, adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, Alzheimer’s disease, motor neuron disease (MND), Parkinson’s disease, prion diseases, lupus, mitochondrial disease, non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, neural tube defects, infertility, hypertension, glaucoma, osteoporosis, fatty liver disease and kidney failure”.(6)

Briefly, when an animal consumes feed from glyphosate sprayed crops e.g. corn, soy and wheat, the animals synthesise their collagen with glyphosate in place of glycine, resulting in glyphosate being concentrated in their collagen.

This concentrated glyphosate rich collagen is then potentially consumed by consumers, and even if glyphosate testing was implemented in commercially available collagen products, which there isn’t, it would be pretty much impossible to detect as it is completely bound in the collagen structure, and is only released when metabolised into amino acids by your digestive system.

Glycine detoxes glyphosate (Roundup®)
Glycine is an effective detoxifier of this highly pervasive and health damaging herbicide that should have been banned decades ago, but due to powerful corporate lobbying in World governments, is still used.(7)

Skin+Beyond – a better option
What if there was a more efficient way to increase collagen in the body; fortunately our proprietary formula in Skin+Beyond combines collagen building pomegranate extract (POMx) and glycine. Pomella® patented pomegranate extract and glycine stimulate collagen production, and protect against collagen breakdown including type II collagen (that makes up 50% of joint structure), via the inhibition and suppression of the enzyme degrading effects of collagenase and elastinase due to many environmental stimuli e.g. UV light, smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol, toxins, chemicals, stress, that ultimately cause chronic inflammation and associated free radicals.

See “Skin+Beyond and skin health” blog for a more detailed explanation of pomegranate and glycine’s effectiveness in protecting the skin.

Collagen is simply not what people are wishing for since the promises from the multi-million pound marketers just don’t translate into reality once you actually scratch under the surface.

Of course collagen is an essential protein to look and feel your best, but simply just consuming more collagen is not the way to boost collagen levels as we have already articulated; the body is far more complex than the simple formula of collagen consumed equals collagen produced that we are made to believe by the collagen industry.