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Collagen, An Essential Protein

The world of bodybuilding and food supplements gives pride of place to milk proteins such as Whey, casein, or vegetable proteins. Isolates, concentrated or hydrolyzed collagen protein powders or tablets are excellent amino acids and peptides sources.

Your body uses them to remake proteins, peptides, tissues, and peptide hormones. This is how your muscle fibers gain mass and volume. The essential amino acids present in dietary proteins participate in the repair of the fibers of your muscles. Still, other tissues, such as cartilage, tendons, or joints, also need to be maintained or repaired.

To simplify, let’s say that it’s not just muscle and functional proteins that matter. Other proteins are called structural because they participate in the solidity of the structure of the body and the organism. These are elastin, fibrillin, and collagen.  

It Is An Essential Structural Protein In Our Body

Collagen is a structural protein always present outside our cells. Collagen takes the form of long filaments, essentially composed of Glycine, Proline, and Lysine. These long chains of proteins that associate with each other are fibrous or fibrillar proteins.

Like elastin, collagen provides mechanical resistance to the stretching of body tissues (take the example of skin, which can deform while regaining its original shape). However, elastin is an elastic protein, but collagen is not stretchy. Both have in common to be part of the connective tissue, a set of issues associated with the organic support and the envelope of the organs. For example, collagen forms an enveloping and supporting tissue around muscles. 

Collagen Is Present In All The Tissues Of Our Body, Mainly Type I

Collagen is present everywhere in the body since it participates in the body’s structure. However, it does not refer to exactly one protein. There are several types of collagen.

Currently, scientific research has counted 28! However, 90% of collagen proteins are type I. Types II and III come next. Different types of collagen associate with each other, but these different protein variants depend mainly on the site where they are found, presenting a slight molecular difference.

Type I will form the basic structure of bones and most connective tissues. It participates in the formation of the skin, organs, cornea of ​​the eye, and tendons.

Type II collagen is mainly found in cartilage. A large part of scientific research also focuses on type II collagen in joints and the connective tissues that constitute it.

Type III is mainly found in the skeletal muscles or around them to form the protective envelope mentioned above. Type III collagen is the muscle structural protein par excellence. It is located in the skeletal muscles and the smooth muscles of the heart, and the wall of the blood vessels, contributing to their resistance.

The Benefits Of Collagen

  • Collagen synthesis is one of the central building units of the human body.
  • The support of the joints, tendons, ligaments, and collagen makes it possible to strengthen the connective and articular tissues.
  • Collagen strengthens our bones.
  • It is essential to consider that the natural production of collagen will decrease over time, so it is important to supplement yourself.
  • Collagen helps maintain the suppleness and tone of the skin with its ability to fix the water in the cells.

The Dietary Supplement Market Today Offers Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder

The dietary supplement market has been moving towards hydrolyzed collagen in recent years. As so often, the results of scientific research started the movement and notable brands of health supplements began to offer powdered collagen supplements. These proteins are hydrolyzed, i.e., their amino acids are already separated mainly from their protein. Under these conditions, powdered collagen is easily assimilated by the intestines.

Since collagen is a significant protein in the human body (and any vertebrate), a dietary supplement may be interesting for sedentary people but even better for strength athletes who frequently handle heavy loads. And subject their joints too strong tensions. Joint stress is naturally high among strength, bodybuilding, weightlifting, or cross-training practitioners. The use of collagen is perfectly conceivable.

However, and despite the proven interest in collagen supplements by scientific research, some skeptics still think that a supplement is not helpful and that, on the contrary, functional proteins such as Whey, casein, or vegetable proteins are sufficient. Maintenance of athletes. So what is it?

What About Powdered Collagen Hydrolysates? What Is Their Interest?

Some ignoramuses will say that this question is quickly answered since the aminogram of collagen is of inferior quality. It contains very few essential amino acids and very few BCAAs in particular. This question, however, requires a little more thought than this simplistic image that does not conform to physiological reality. It is an excellent question since it highlights the limitations of the notion of the essentiality of specific amino acids.

Glycine and Proline are not considered essential, except Lysine, but they constitute almost all of the amino acids that make up collagen fibers. This is especially true for Glycine. In this light, these three amino acids are essential for synthesizing the fibrillar structures of collagen. Similarly, Alanine participates in energy generation through gluconeogenesis (forming glucose and ATP with amino acids) more actively than BCAAs. Alanine is, however, not considered essential.

Therefore, we can say that collagen is a dietary supplement to have in your selection.

The Amino Acids You Give Your Body Naturally Meet Its Nutritional Needs

So, let’s quickly take the example of collagen and a beef protein to explain their assimilation. The stomach first digests these proteins, separated amino acids and peptides into the intestine.

For collagen, Glycine, Proline, and Lysine pass the intestines and end up in the blood. They participate in forming our collagen since these three amino acids form the majority of the collagen in our body. Some of them will be used for other functions, but if your body needs to synthesize this protein, your nutritional needs’ physiological process will apply.

In parallel, the essential amino acids of the beef protein will be used to synthesize all the tissues requiring these contributions, including your muscle mass. All this to say that your diet and the supplements you take meet your body’s needs at the moment. If you provide it with collagen, it will synthesize collagen more efficiently. .. This notion of essentiality is relevant in a relative way.

Should Collagen Be Given As Much Importance As Other Proteins?

Answering this question requires putting it into perspective, as should be done for many food supplements and amino acids. That is to say; collagen needs to increase relative to the organism’s aging. At 20, your body efficiently synthesizes any protein since it has enough hormones, but 30 years later, this is no longer the case.

Certain phenomena linked to aging, such as the sequestration of amino acids by the intestines, no longer allow your body to receive enough raw material to perfectly redo all its proteins. And if physical training reverses the harmful effects of aging, it is no less accurate that intense and heavy exercise seriously damages your joints, tendons, and other articular tissues. Under these conditions, a collagen supplement will make all the sense. This is also true for MSM, glucosamine sulfate, or chondroitin.

Naturally, joint disorders such as osteoarthritis linked to intense strength training or cross-training could benefit from a collagen supply. Currently, many athletes are increasingly turning to this type of protein as a solution for maintaining or preventing the risk of joint disorders. Without going too far, collagen will likely become one of the most valuable proteins to take in the context of strength sports or common diseases in sedentary people.


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