Collagen Supplements and Gut Health

Collagen Supplements and Gut Health

Published on Monday, September 05, 2022 by Author Name

You may have seen the commercials or heard of collagen before…

But what exactly is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant component of the extracellular matrix constituting 75% of the skin’s dry weight [1]. There are several types of collagen, but the three main sources of hydrolyzed collagen are – bovine, marine, and porcine.

It is important to know this depending on your food preferences (vegetarian, etc), so look for sources that align with your preferences.

In our bodies, collagen loss starts between 18-29 years of age. After 40, the body can lose around 1% per year [2]. Other factors that increase collagen loss in the body are smoking, alcoholism, certain diseases, and a deficient diet.

Is collagen a complete protein?

No, collagen is not a complete protein. 

For a protein to be a complete protein, it needs 9 of the essential amino acids in it (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, and valine) [3]. Collagen is lacking tryptophan, which you can get from things like eggs, chicken, nuts, etc. With that being said, if you are looking for a complete protein as a supplement, collagen is not it. If you choose to supplement your diet with collagen, try to ensure you are consuming other sources of tryptophan in your diet.

Collagen is widely known for its benefits for skin, hair, muscles, and nails. But did you know that collagen may also be helpful for gut health?

Many studies are lacking the support linking collagen and gut health, but more and more studies are being done recently.

Let’s look at one study done by Abrahams et al.[4]

It looked to explore the potential benefit between gut health and collagen (the Gutme! Study). They hypothesized that an 8-week supplementation with bovine-based collagen peptides would reduce digestive symptoms in otherwise healthy adult females. They looked at women between the ages of 35 and 65 (who signed up to participate in the study) who had 3 of the 5 symptoms: bloating, gas, acid reflux, stomach pain, and irregular bowel movements

They took 20 grams of collagen peptides per day. Based on interviews with participants, there were positive outcomes with collagen use. For the most part, there was a reduction in bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and acid reflux, and an improvement in bowel regularity.

They used an app called Cara Care for digestive symptom logging, but unfortunately, there was poor compliance on the participant's end. However, in exit interviews, many participants discussed the improvement in their digestive symptoms while using collagen.

The Cara Care app is an app designed for use by people who experience digestive symptoms. It has features for logging and tracking meals, gut symptoms, mood, bowel regularity, menstruation, water consumption, and physical activity.

Although collagen supplementation is likely unharmful, more research is needed.

References:

  1. Oral collagen supplementation: A systematic review of Dermatological Applications - JDDonline - Journal of Drugs in dermatology. JDDonline. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2022, from https://jddonline.com/articles/oral-collagen-supplementation-a-systematic-review-of-dermatological-applications-S1545961619P0009X/
  2. León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V. M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D. I., & Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed collagen—sources and applications. Molecules, 24(22), 4031. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224031
  3. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Johns Creek (GA): Ebix, Inc., A.D.A.M.; c1997-2021. Amino acids; [reviewed 2021 Mar 11; cited 2022 Aug 19]; [about 2 p.]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm 
  4. Abrahams, M., O’Grady, R., & Prawitt, J. (2022). Effect of a daily collagen peptide supplement on digestive symptoms in healthy women: 2-phase mixed methods study. JMIR Formative Research, 6(5). https://doi.org/10.2196/36339