Proteins are essential molecules that play a vital role in the structure and function of all living cells. They are composed of long chains of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together in a specific sequence. When it comes to protein, think amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined in various ways to create different proteins.
Collagen, the current superstar of supplements, is indeed a protein. It is made up of amino acids, just like any other protein. In fact, collagen is the most abundant type of protein found in the human body, making up approximately one-third of the body's protein content. It is a fibrous protein that forms the structural framework of our connective tissue, including skin, bones, cartilage, and tendons.
Collagen as a Source of Protein
Now that we've established that collagen is a protein, let's explore whether collagen can be considered a good source of protein. While collagen is not a complete protein, meaning it does not contain all of the essential amino acids, it does possess a unique combination of amino acids that create bioactive peptides. These peptides are responsible for collagen's rejuvenating and healing properties.
Collagen's amino acid profile consists of 19 total amino acids, with a heavy concentration of Glycine, Proline, and Hydroxyproline. These three amino acids, often referred to as the "Big 3," are the backbone of collagen's unique strong and durable triple-helix structure.
Although collagen is not a complete protein due to the absence of the amino acid tryptophan, it is still a valuable source of protein. Collagen's unique properties make it an essential component for maintaining the health of our connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, gut, circulatory system, and hair, skin, and nails.
Collagen Protein in Foods and Supplements
Collagen protein can be obtained through both natural food sources and supplements. Animal-based proteins, such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are considered the most complete protein sources, as they contain all essential amino acids in the right proportions. Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, may not be complete on their own but can be combined to create a complete protein. Examples of plant-based protein sources include beans and rice, hummus and pita bread, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, soy, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas .
Protein supplements, including collagen protein supplements, can be a convenient way to increase protein intake. Collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, are a more broken-down form of collagen that can be found in various forms such as powders, pills, and gummies. These supplements provide a concentrated dose of collagen protein per serving, with many collagen powders containing at least 7 grams of collagen protein per serving.
How Much Protein is in Collagen?
The amount of collagen protein in food and supplements can vary. Collagen-rich foods, such as bone broth, cooked beef tripe, eggs, chicken wings, and ribeye steak, contain varying amounts of collagen protein per serving. For example, 1 cup of bone broth typically contains 4 grams of collagen protein, while 1 cup of cooked beef tripe contains 6 grams.
When it comes to collagen supplements, the amount of collagen protein per serving will depend on the type of supplement, serving size, and the quality of the product. It's important to choose high-quality supplements that are manufactured in GMP facilities and boast third-party certifications, such as NSF.
Collagen as a Critical Protein Source
Collagen, despite not being a complete protein, is a critical protein source that our bodies need, especially as we age. Its unique amino acid profile stimulates collagen production in our bodies, which is essential for maintaining the health of our connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, gut, circulatory system, and hair, skin, and nails.
While collagen protein alone may not fulfill all of our protein needs, it is recommended to incorporate a well-rounded intake of protein by consuming a variety of animal and plant-based protein sources alongside collagen. This ensures that we provide our bodies with all the essential amino acids they require.
In conclusion, collagen is indeed a protein. It is made up of amino acids and is the most abundant type of protein found in the human body. While collagen may not be a complete protein, it possesses a unique combination of amino acids that create bioactive peptides, which contribute to its rejuvenating and healing properties. Collagen can be obtained through both natural food sources and supplements, with collagen supplements providing a more concentrated dose of collagen protein per serving. Incorporating collagen into our diet, alongside other protein sources, can help support the health and function of our bodies.
Note: The information provided in this article is based on current knowledge and research. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice and recommendations regarding protein intake and dietary needs.