Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, so is vital to our health and wellbeing, supporting everything from our skin and soft tissues to our bones, tendons and cartilage. While we're young, our bodies usually produce enough high-quality collagen to keep us well, but from our thirties onwards both the quantity and quality of this collagen declines.
For women, there is a significant drop in collagen levels around the time of menopause, often resulting in visible changes to our skin's elasticity, smoothness, and firmness, as well as potential joint issues.
Healthspan's range contains collagen supplements to support skin and joints from within, as well as serums to stimulate collagen production in the skin.
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Why is collagen important?
Collagen is the main structural protein in the body, providing the scaffolding for all tissues, including joint cartilage and ligaments. It also provides strength and structure to our skin, bones, and tendons.
As a result, maintaining healthy collagen levels can benefit our health and wellbeing from top to toe – although it should be noted that different forms of collagen are used by the body in different places.
Type I collagen
This is by far the most common type, and is found in your skin, bones, teeth, and connective tissue. Along with type II, it's the most important for healthy joints.
Type II collagen
This improves the elasticity and resilience of joint cartilage, helping to cushion your joints and stop the ends of your bones rubbing together. If you don't have enough, joints can lose flexibility and become painful – a change that is often seen with age.
Type III collagen
Type III collagen supports your muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, and is used in the initial stages of injury repair.
Foods rich in collagen include tough cuts of meat such as shoulder and brisket, which are high in connective tissue, the bones and skin of fresh and saltwater fish, and bone broth – none of which are abundant in the Western diet.
Another option is to consume enough foods, such as fish, poultry, legumes and soy, which contain the amino acids to make collagen (namely lycine, proline, and hydroxyproline).
Collagen supplements for women
According to Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner Julie Brackenbury, "collagen is one of the most important support structures found naturally in our skin, helping to maintain elasticity and suppleness."
This means that when our collagen levels are high (during our younger years), skin stays strong, smooth, and firm. As we get older and our collagen levels fall, we begin to see signs of ageing, like fine lines and loss of firmness and elasticity.
"The most significant decrease in collagen," says Brackenbury, "begins during menopause, when oestrogen levels drop significantly." As a result, many women choose to start taking collagen supplements around the age of 45 (although benefits will be seen at any age), to help stimulate the body's ability to produce collagen and improve skin's hydration and elasticity.
Collagen for skin
When choosing collagen supplements for skin, Brackenbury recommends marine collagen, which is rich in type I collagen and "helps to minimise fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improve skin elasticity and hydration." It's also good for strengthening nails and hair, she adds.
Her other piece of advice is to choose collagen tablets that contain hydrolysed collagen: a broken-down form with smaller particles that's easier for the body to absorb.
Marine collagen supplements
Healthspan has four premium marine collagen supplements to help support skin health.
Platinum Marine Collagen Skin Complex provides a premium blend of nutrients, including hydrolysed marine collagen, vitamin C, and omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9, to support your skin's health 24 hours a day. Added B vitamins, selenium, copper and zinc help to maintain healthy skin and protect against oxidative stress.
Marine Collagen contains 500mg of hydrolysed type I marine collagen to help support the health of skin and connective tissues, together with vitamin C to further support collagen production. At just 12p per tablet, this is Healthspan's best-value collagen supplement.
Super Strength Marine Collagen contains 1,000mg collagen peptides per tablet, including 800mg type I collagen to support the skin. These hydrolysed forms have a low molecular weight to ensure they are easily absorbed by the body.
Collagen Glow is a tasty tropical liquid collagen drink – three squeezes into a glass of water and a quick stir, and you have 5,000mg type I and type III marine collagen in a refreshing, squash-like drink with only 18 calories.
The supplement also contains added copper, manganese and vitamin C to support collagen formation, and type II collagen for joints (see below).
Elite Collagen Repair provides 20,000mg hydrolysed bioactive peptides per serving, including type I collagen to nourish the skin from within, plus vitamin C to contribute to normal collagen formation. Its type 3 collagen can also help tendons and ligaments (see below.)
Packaged in perfectly-dosed sachets, this collagen is easy to take as a daily drink.
Read more about the changes to skin and hair during the menopause.
Collagen skin care
Collagen can also support the skin's health and appearance from the outside – typically in a collagen serum or cream.
The most effective formulations use ingredients like plant oestrogens and vitamin C to help boost skin's collagen production, rather than containing collagen itself, whose particles are too large to reach the deeper levels of skin.
The best-selling Replenish Collagen Boosting Serum is specially formulated to support skin during and after the menopause, when falling oestrogen levels lead to a sharp decline in collagen levels. Plant oestrogens and vitamin C boost the skin's collagen, providing a noticeable improvement in hydration, plumpness, and texture.
Read more about collagen's benefits for the skin.
Collagen for joints, bones, tendons and ligaments
When it comes to collagen supplements for joints, type II collagen is essential, says health journalist Karen Evennett. For starters, it's "a key component in your articular cartilage – the cushioning in your joints that protects the ends of your bones to stop them rubbing together, and acts as a shock absorber."
Evennett suggests that maintaining adequate collagen levels could play a preventative role, highlighting that "low levels of collagen could lead to looser tendons, putting you at a greater risk of a joint injury."
Healthspan has two collagen supplements that can help your joints.
Super Strength Marine Collagen contains 1,000mg hydrolysed collagen peptides per tablet, including both type I and type II collagen, to support the skin and joints. Added vitamin C helps with collagen formation and has other benefits for bones and joint cartilage.
Elite Collagen Repair contains 20,000mg of collagen peptides, split into type I and type III. During injury recovery, type III collagen acts as a framework for new red blood vessels and other collagens, such as type I. The type III collagen is then eventually replaced by stronger type I collagen during the healing process.
Read more about the importance of collagen for bone and joint health.
Collagen for dogs
Collagen is also found naturally in dogs, providing structure, strength and cushioning around the joints. As a result, collagen plays a similar role in helping to ensure they can continue to enjoy happy and active lives.
Healthspan's Flexi-Joints Treats combine collagen with other joint health nutrients, including glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric. As well as providing optimum joint health protection, these chewable bites are deliciously tasty and can help you avoid having to give your pet lots of tablets every day.
Shop collagen for dogs.
Collagen plays a major role in our everyday health and wellbeing. As a result, Healthspan's range of collagen products are consistent bestsellers.
If you have any questions about collagen, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our fully-trained nutritional advisors.