Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that makes up 25-30% of the protein in your body and provides structure to connective tissues.
While there are plenty of natural food sources for collagen, many people use collagen supplements instead of, or in addition to, getting it in their diet.
Supplements like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides claim to support skin and joint health or make it easier to achieve your fitness goals, but what will they do for you?
Collagen is categorized as a structural protein because it helps provide structure to your connective tissues (like skin, tendons, and muscles). While your body usually produces enough collagen to maintain your connective tissues, your collagen levels will decrease over time, increasing your risk of conditions like osteoarthritis and elastosis unless you get more from external sources.
However, while older people are most at risk of collagen deficiencies, many collagen supplement users are younger people seeking the purported health benefits rather than maintaining their health. For example, products like Vital Proteins collagen peptides supplements often claim to “promote a youthful appearance” or even help you lose weight, but can collagen be that beneficial?
How Does Collagen Work?
As a major component of connective tissues like skin and muscles, collagen acts like a glue to hold the cells of your body together with other proteins like elastin and fibrillin. Together, these proteins provide vital structure to your skin, muscles, and joints, helping to protect your body against physical damage and age-related degradation.
While connective tissue cells called fibroblasts naturally produce and maintain collagen, your collagen will become fragmented, and your fibroblast function will decline as you age. Subsequently, many people use Vital Proteins collagen peptides to replenish natural stores of collagen and treat signs of aging, such as joint pain and wrinkles.
The Difference Between Collagen and Collagen Peptides
While many people use the terms “collagen” and “collagen peptides” interchangeably, they are distinct forms of collagen, and peptides are believed to be more beneficial in supplements. Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids made by breaking down full-length collagen molecules into shorter, more bioavailable molecules, so your body can absorb and use them more easily.
The main difference between collagen (sometimes called “collagen protein”) and collagen peptides is that collagen peptides are more bioavailable. Because of their shorter amino acid chains, it’s much easier for your body to break them down into a usable form, making them highly desirable for supplements like Vital Proteins collagen peptides.
RELATED: Learn more about the differences between collagen peptides and collagen protein and their nutritional benefits here.