Collagen Shots

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Collagen shots are becoming popular.  Most beauty enthusiasts know all about the role of collagen in the appearance of the skin, and how it is the webbing that holds everything together.  It is a protein that has a spring like appearance that fits in with its ability to make your skin springy and resistant to sagging and wrinkling.  

What is maybe less well known  is that the body continually breaks it down and rebuilds it.  Like all proteins, collagen is basically a long chain of amino acids.  The body is adept at breaking down any kind of protein in the diet into its component amino acids and then reassembling them to make whatever it needs.  So one way to think of it is like having two toddlers – one is continually making up a model from the lego while the other is continually pulling it down.  As you get older the toddler building the model slows down so the model steadily gets smaller.

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Collagen in s a protein that only occurs in animals, but vegetarians have no trouble at all creating collagen from the proteins found in plants. So when someone proposes that a collagen rich drink can enhance collagen production the first reaction scientifically is to be skeptical.  That isn’t really how the body works.  Collagen that you ingest is going to be split down into its component individual amino acids long before it gets anywhere near the skin.  And going back to those vegetarians – most of us eat plenty of collagen already.  But those who don’t have much the same skin as the rest of us.  So on the face of it the idea of taking a collagen shot to improve your skin sounds like a non-starter.

But it is always good to keep an open mind.  One company that works in this area came up with the idea that rather than simply using any old collagen, would it make sense to find a source of collagen that closely matches the specific collagen found in the skin.  This might work – presumably if you had a protein source that had just the right amino acids for collagen production maybe that would actually increase collagen production.  And in fact they took it a bit further and broke the collagen down into short chains.  Again

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this sounds like it might work.  A short sequence of amino acids has got a better chance of making it intact through the digestive system than a great big long one.  And if you remember that the body is continually rebuilding collagen, then maybe supplying it prebuilt blocks might speed up the reconstruction rate.  It would be a bit like providing lego blocks partially assembled rather than individual bricks.  And all you need to do to reverse the ageing process is give the the toddler making the model a bit of a hand.

So that is the theory.  Whether you find it plausible or not is pretty much a matter of taste.  I found it intriguing and was prepared to believe it.   I am the owner operator of some skin that could certainly use a bit of collagen enhancement and I like the idea of being able to have a drink that improves it.  But science is all about trying to avoid letting your feelings affect your judgement.  What is the actual evidence?  Luckily, we are able to get a feel for it because the company behind this special grade of collagen has submitted it to the European Food Standards Agency and they have assessed it and made their conclusions public.  This is a relatively new feature of the legislative environment.  If you want to make a claim for a nutritional product you have to submit the basis of that claim to EFSA and they will come to a judgement on it.  I think it is a good system because it gives you a way of getting away from advertising as the sole source of information about products.  We all know how misleading that can be.

The company must have believed in the idea because they have put a lot of work and money into it.  They have done studies on mice and two trials in humans.  Sadly for those of us who would like to buy a product like this, they couldn’t come up with a

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ny convincing evidence that it worked.  This is a shame.  I can’t help thinking that perhaps the basic idea is sound and that one day someone will crack how to achieve it.  I hope research continues in this area.  But if you are thinking of trying these collagen shots, you need to be of a distinctly optimistic frame of mind.

[hana-code-insert name='General Interest' /]

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/3257.pdf

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6 Responses to Collagen Shots

  1. I personally find the claims of collagen shots completely mad.

    By simply eating a balanced diet you will take in all of the component amino acids necessary to form healthy collagen.

    An egg will be broken down to the same amino acid components as these shots. Most of them are based on “marine collagen” , also known as fish skin, so by including a decent amount of fish in your diet you can take in the exact ingredients if you wish.

    The production of amino acids in the liver is also under homeostatic regulation. If you greatly increase the input of a certain amino acid, then your body will just stop synthesising extra, leading to no change in blood levels.

  2. Kathryn Danzey says:

    Hi Chris It’s interesting to debate the efficacy of Collagen Shots, we are very aware of EFSA and are currently working on trials for publication which should be ready by the new year. We do have several doctors and surgeons who use Collagen Shots and a great many aesthetic nurses. Our approach is very much try it and see and our business has grown through happy customers rather than advertising. Everybody’s physiology is different, so the extent of benefits will vary from person to person.
    We agree that a healthy diet is important and our product is a supplement to overlay this.
    Our product has 18 amino acids within the marine collagen alone; acai berry which itself has a considerable amount of amino acids, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and B 3, 5 & 6.

    Collagen drinks are used by physiotherapists to aid in the repair of tissue in athletes, there is no EFSA verification of this but it is accepted as part of an athletes recovery program.

    We look forward to keeping you updated.

  3. An egg has 18 amino acids as well.

  4. Sorry, I had not completed my above comment.

    Despite my scepticism, it is great that you are working to produce a trial. I look forward to seeing its outcomes.

  5. Lisa says:

    I find it very, very, very sad that they tested this on animals. How horrible that it’s still allowed in 2013.

  6. Kesha says:

    Are there any side-effects? thanks Kesha

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