The Health Benefits Of Collagen Peptides

Collagen peptides: the triple helix molecule in different visualisations isolated on white background
The collagen triple helix from which the peptides are derived. Copyright: shawnhempel / 123RF Stock Photo

Collagen peptides are short chain amino acids naturally derived from collagen protein. Unlike gelatin, these peptides are soluble in cold liquids as well as hot. Collagen peptides contain the same amino acids as gelatin which are identical to the protein found in skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage, and joints.

Proteins based on collagen peptides are essential for healthy bones and they act as the building blocks, promoting bone formation and calcium absorption from the intestine. Collagen forms 90% of the bones’ organic scaffold providing a structural framework for calcium and other minerals. It explains in part the skeletons considerable flexibility. It is also used by sports men and women for general growth and building muscle mass.

Cartilage

One of those tissues is cartilage. Cartilage consists of a single cell type known as chondrocytes embedded in the extracellular matrix and is made up of two major components: type II collagen which imparts tensile strength to the tissue and aggrecan that provides the ability of cartilage to resist compressive force. Orchestrated synthesis and turnover ensures and maintains the biochemical characteristic of the cartilage.

Hydrolysed collagen peptides are always offered as highly purified from bovine skin and provide 90% protein. It is a neutral tasting and odourless product which dissolves readily in water.

Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is a condition mostly seen in the elderly where there is a significant and debilitating loss of lean muscle mass along with a general increase in fat mass. It is a marker of aging where there is a loss of mobility and strength. Research reported in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that consuming collagen peptides coupled with resistance training may help reverse or at least lessen the impact of sarcopenia in men.

In a double-blind, placebo controlled study, researchers from two university institutes associated with sports  in Freiburg, Germany investigated the effects of collagen peptides on body composition and muscle strength. The subjects were 60 men, aged 65 and older, and all with sarcopenia and they were divided into two groups.  Both groups underwent the same guided resistance training program, with three sessions per week for 12 weeks total. One group was supplemented on a daily basis with placebo and the other with collagen peptides using the brand BodyBalance by Gelita. The product (15g) was given in its powdered form and dissolved in 250mL water. The participants drank the solution within one hour after the training.

The researchers found that the collagen peptides further increased the benefits of the resistance training in elderly people with sarcopenia. Compared with placebo, participants in the collagen-supplemented group showed a significant increase in fat-free mass and muscle strength, as well as a statistically significant reduction in fat mass.

Additional evidence indicates consuming 10g of collagen peptide every day helps increase Bone Mineral Density (BMD) in osteopenic women. These are women who have lost bone mass which makes their bones brittle.

Sources Of Collagen Peptides

A good source of collagen peptides comes from bone broths amongst other proteins such as chondroitin and hyaluronic acid and nutrients. The bone broth is claimed to help improve joint health and the skin. Collagen and its corresponding peptides leach out of bones as they are simmered in water. 

Branded Products

Rousselot was the official Nutrition Supporter of World Osteoporosis Day in 2015. They developed some new collagen formulated products for senior nutrition. Good4Bone Dairy Shot is a fresh, high-protein probiotic drink. Peptan with calcium and vitamin D ensures the optimal protein content for building a bone matrix and kefir offers a digestive and gut health benefit. The Peptan Pumpkin Soup combined pumpkin, chestnut and milk. MyProtein™ offers a 90% hydrolysed version for supplementing in a typical serve size of 25g. They are available in a range of flavours, strawberry, chocolate, banana and vanilla.

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References

Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: A randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(8), pp. 1237-1245. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515002810

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