Do collagen peptides work? Millions of people around the world are using collagen, most of them with no idea what they are taking, they believe the marketing message and buy the dream.
Marketers are masters of delivering the message the consumer wants to hear, they are taught to sell the solution and not the product. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but the marketing message or promise should align with what the product actually delivers.
Over the past 14 years, I’ve studied most of the literature available on collagen, collagen peptides, hydrolysis, pharmacological action and everything you want to know about dietary collagen.
During this journey, I found that most consumers, marketers, and salespeople have limited to no understanding of what they are using or selling. I’ve spoken to salespeople in stores, and they told me wonderful stories of how collagen travels through the body to the skin, and specifically to the face. Amazing, it goes where you want it to go.
In the first place, “collagen” is the term for a biological substance produced by animals with the genetic capacity to synthesise collagen through a process called biosynthesis.
All you have to know is that the process of collagen biosynthesis is complex and that it starts with the DNA in the cell nucleus and is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) by RNA polymerase, and ends with a fully assembled collagen fibre.
You could refer to this as native collagen as it is presented in nature without going through any processes. It is important to note that your body is unable to digest and absorb native collagen.
On the other hand, the so-called collagen they sell commercially is not “native” collagen. Yes, you are not consuming native collagen, this is a fact. The collagen you take is hydrolysed collagen. Denatured and pre-digested in smaller components called amino acids or peptides, so that your body can absorb them.
So, you can say that the hydrolysed collagen or collagen peptides are formed by mechanically reversing part of the biosynthesis process.
The controlled pre-digestion process, also known as hydrolysis, involves the use of water, heat, and carefully selected enzymes to break down the tough collagen strands. This process results in separate gelatine strands, which are then cleaved by specific enzymes at predetermined bonds to create peptides.
The size and structure of a peptide determine whether it can be consumed by humans. Some peptides can be further digested by the human digestive tract, resulting in random free amino acids that are not uniquely specific to collagen. Other peptides, such as di-peptides, are more specific to collagen and serve as collagen building blocks.
Tripeptides are a unique essential amino acid structure, Gly-X-Y, specifically found in collagen. All of these particles can pass through the intestinal wall as bioavailable particles and enter the bloodstream to be utilized by the body. The more bioactive tripeptides that reach the target tissue, the more effective the treatment.
The “collagen” powder, granules or collagen peptides you are taking is native collagen hydrolysed to form peptides that are digestible by the human digestive system.
The smallest components in all the hydrolysed collagen products are free amino acids. The larger peptide structures are polypeptides and have to be digested by the human digestive system into smaller pieces for them to be absorbed.
Then there are the dipeptides and tripeptides. These structures, especially the tripeptides, are unique to collagen and have the ability to stimulate collagen synthesis. The biosynthesis of collagen is a story for another science lesson, but this is the bioactivity the marketers promise you, the claim so to say.
The premise is that the tripeptides and dipeptides stimulate the proliferation of fibroblast cells, the collagen-building cells, triggering the biosynthesis of new collagen fibres.
We can then deduce from this that the tripeptides are the most valuable of the peptides, the “stuff” that makes collagen powders work.
Tripeptides are mostly digestive resistant and pass through the digestive system intact and are readily absorbed. The Tripeptides reach the target tissue intact and stimulate the proliferation of fibroblast cells to synthesise new collagen.
To get the maximum number of tripeptides to the target tissue site to stimulate collagen biosynthesis, you need to take collagen with a higher concentration of tripeptides.
One such product is Sontal Marine Collagen Tripeptide manufactured and sold by SONTAL Nutricosmetics, the same brand to introduce Peptan, the first collagen peptide to the South African market back in 2010.
Sontal Marine Collagen Tripeptide contains a patented ingredient called *Morikol®. This is standardised to 15% tripeptides. These tripeptides reach the target tissue intact as bioactive molecules stimulating the endogenous proliferation of fibroblasts. Fibroblast cells are collagen-synthesizing cells, responsible for building new collagen fibrils and repairing damaged collagen. Tripeptides are also responsible for stimulating the synthesis of hyaluronic acid and for reducing the damage to collagen from MMPs created by UV rays from the sun.
Sontal Marine Collagen Tripeptide capsules containing 1 000 mg (2 x 500mg vegetable Capsules) of pure *Morikol®, no additives or excipients, standardized to 15% bioactive tripeptides, delivering 150 mg of tripeptides per dose, up to 85% more.
Considering that standard collagen powders typically contain less than 1% tripeptides; this equates to less than 90 mg per 10 000mg (10g) in comparison to 150mg of tripeptides from just 1000mg of *Morikol® tripeptides.
* Morikol® is a trademark of DolCas Biotech LLC.