What is collagen and why do we need it? 

Most of us know collagen plays a major role in promoting our health and beauty but we at Optima feel this skin superstar deserves a little more airtime. Collagen is a VIP (very important protein) – a major cellular building block, providing structure to our skin, bones, joints and organs. It’s just unfortunate that as we age, we start to have less of it in our skin, leading to the visible signs of ageing. Luckily, we can boost our body’s own production with the right collagen supplement. Stay with us to discover how collagen works, why it’s essential to looking our best, and how to get more of it into our lives.

Optima Nutricosmetics collagen supplement with a wooden scoop and a glass.

What is collagen? 

Collagen is the most abundant substance in the human body after water. Collagen is a naturally-produced protein, comprised of amino acids, the building blocks of all proteins. 

Collagen fibres are long strands of these amino acids produced by fibroblasts. These fibres provide structure and hold moisture in connective tissue. Collagen therefore largely contributes to skin elasticity, fullness and firmness – all those precious properties that create beautiful skin. 

But it’s much more than skin-deep: collagen is also the foundation of our tendons, joints, cartilage, bones, arteries and organs. It also contributes to healthy hair and nails. Basically anything with structure in the body is held together with collagen.  

Where does collagen come from?

The body makes five different types of its own collagen for different bodily tissue. The collagen in human skin is comprised of 90 per cent type 1 collagen. As well as skin, type 1 collagen is also present in bones and blood vessels. 

From the age of about 30, the quantity and quality of collagen produced in our skin diminishes, resulting in the visible signs of ageing. This is where supplements can help. 

But before you pop just any old collagen, it’s important to understand that there are different types of collagen – both produced within our bodies and in supplement form that we put into our bodies. Supplementing the right collagen for our skin will produce the best results – like the right key for the matching lock. 

Marine collagen for skin 

If you’re looking to supplement collagen for healthier, more beautiful-looking skin, marine collagen is your go-to. Made from the skin of fish, marine collagen is a high-quality source of type 1 collagen peptides.  

Not only does this match the collagen mostly comprising our skin, marine collagen also has low molecular weight particles. These are smaller in size and more easily absorbed across the digestive tract, ensuring the highest bioavailability (ease of absorption and utilisation in the body). 

Marine collagen is also a potent source of hydroxyproline, proline and glycine – the building blocks used by the body to create new collagen and elastin fibres.

Marine collagen has been extensively tested in human clinical trials which have shown it can increase production of collagen and elastin in the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin hydration and improve skin texture. It also reduces oxidative stress (a factor in skin ageing) and improves the strength of hair and nails.  

Optima uses only sustainable, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified marine collagen peptides in our collagen supplement

This collagen is produced exclusively from deep sea cod skin (Gadus morhua), harvested from the pristine waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. This provides a pure source of high quality, 100 percent natural collagen peptides, batch tested to be low in mercury and heavy metals.

In its raw form, collagen cannot be absorbed. It is broken down to small peptides in a process called hydrolysation. The marine collagen peptides in our collagen supplement are hydrolysed, ensuring the smallest available form of collagen and the most bioavailable – meaning you will see results in the health and beauty of your skin. 

Other forms of collagen

There are several other sources of collagen in various collagen supplements available on the market. While these sources may be a cheaper alternative, the important factor to consider when selecting the right collagen is bioavailability (how much collagen actually reaches the tissues where it is active). It’s futile to use a collagen supplement that doesn’t contain the same type 1 collagen comprising our skin. 

  • Bovine collagen 

Made from the hide and bones of beef cattle, bovine collagen also contains relatively high quantities of type 1 collagen, however it also contains type 3. It has been studied for its ability to support joint and muscle health and speed recovery after exercise. 

  • Porcine collagen 

Made from pig skin, porcine collagen is also a combination of type 1 and 3 collagen and may therefore support joint and muscle health. It has also been the subject of small studies looking at its benefits on skin health, however the effect is still undetermined. 

  • Poultry collagen 

Made from chicken cartilage, poultry collagen is primarily type 4 collagen – a less abundant collagen in our body, mainly present mainly in our tendons and cartilage. 

Why is collagen important? 

Ageing, lifestyle and environmental factors all impact the production of collagen in our skin. This leads to loss of structure and the visible signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles, sagging, loss of elasticity, and dehydration. As we age, our collagen fibres can also become weak and fragmented, resulting in increased oxidative stress, thinning of the skin, impaired wound healing and reduced vascularisation.

Supplementing collagen not only provides the amino acids the body requires to produce more, better quality collagen, but certain types of collagen supplements – such as the type 1 hydrolysed marine collagen featured in our collagen supplement  – can also stimulate our fibroblasts to produce more, better quality collagen. 

The skin will resultantly retain more moisture and elasticity, making it more resilient and beautiful as we age. 

Beauty benefits of collagen supplements  

When our skin is lacking in collagen, there’s no hiding the evidence. These visible signs of ageing can be improved by using the right collagen supplement. 

In clinical trials, marine collagen peptides have been shown to:

  • Reduce eye wrinkle volume by up to 49 per cent
  • Increase skin elasticity by up to 40 per cent
  • Increase skin hydration by up to 28 per cent
  • Improve skin texture
  • Increase skin thickness for resilience and plump appearance
  • Increase quantity and activity of fibroblasts (the cells than make collagen and elastin)
  • Decrease collagen fragmentation by up to 31 per cent

Health benefits of collagen supplements 

Collagen also contributes to healthy hair and nail growth and can help reduce cellulite, but it is not just a beauty supplement. It can help with skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis while supporting skin health function, wound healing and immunity. 

Going beyond skin deep, taking a type 1 marine collagen supplement supports the health of collagen dense tissues as we age by providing the amino acids required to produce new collagen and stimulating production of collagen in bone, muscle and vascular tissue. 

Bone is comprised of 30 per cent collagen, predominantly type 1. Collagen gives bones their flexibility. Once we reach adulthood and our skeleton is fully formed, our bones go through a continuous cycle of remodelling whereby old bone is broken down by osteoclasts and new bone is formed by osteoblasts. As collagen levels decrease with age, our bone remodelling, as well as mineral density can also be affected, increasing the risk of fracture. 

Research indicates that supplementing with type 1 collagen peptides can actually stimulate the activity of osteoblasts, resulting in stronger bone formation. Osteoblasts can also inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, preventing bone loss. 

Studies have shown that supplementing with collagen can improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. A literature review concluded that hydrolysed collagen can aid osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, help protect cartilage and relieve pain.  

Researchers are currently investigating the benefits of collagen supplements on cardiovascular health. One small study demonstrated an improvement in vascular health, however more research is needed. 

Women and men of all ages can benefit from supplementing collagen, with those over 30 seeing greater benefits. Read more about how collagen helps your overall health and wellbeing.

Factors affecting collagen production  

Collagen is essential to good skin and good health but many factors aside from general ageing can impact its production. Stress and fatigue can influence the healthy functioning of collagen-producing fibroblasts. 

Lack of good nutrition also plays a role: fibroblasts require adequate levels of zinc, vitamin c, iron and silicon to produce collagen. Environmental factors like UV and pollution exposure can also impact collagen production. 

An important factor is the bioavailability of collagen (how much of it gets absorbed in your body) is affected by gut health. Conditions like dysbiosis and leaky gut affect absorption of collagen and other nutrients. If you’ve been taking the right collagen supplement and haven’t seen much difference in your skin health, it could be a sign of gut issues. 

So reducing stress, getting enough sleep, protecting yourself from UV and avoiding pollution, as well as encouraging good gut health by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, will all encourage increased collagen production and better absorption. Sound complicated to achieve? Optima Nutricosmetics Ultimate 1.0 – Complete Skin Food Elixir can simplify things. 

It provides all the nutrition and antioxidants your skin needs, along with 10g of highly bioavailable collagen peptides per serve (the highest in-market serve, clinically proven to be effective). 

Knowing that healthy skin begins in the gut, we formulated our Ultimate – Complete Skin Food Elixir™ with GutRenew OptiBlend™: a meticulous mix of pre and probiotics to support microbiome diversity and a healthy gut, essential for optimum nutrient absorption, immune function and clear, healthy skin. 

Ready to give your skin the star treatment and seriously boost your collagen levels? Try our marine collagen supplement today.