What Amino Acids are in Collagen?
I’m often asked, “what amino acids are in collagen?” Let me explain.
Collagen is a protein, meaning that it is made up of amino acid building blocks. There are 22 amino acids that makeup proteins in food and in the body. Those that we must obtain from food in order to get enough are called “essential,” meaning that these can’t be made by the body so must come from food. Some amino acids are “conditionally essential” during certain periods of life, meaning that you need even more of these during times of growth or healing. Once you have the essentials, your body can make all of the other “non-essential” amino acids.
You may have heard of collagen being called peptides, which just means shorter chains of amino acids. Whereas some proteins contain hundreds of amino acids, collagen contains 3 to 10 amino acids per peptide.
There are many types of collagen in the body (at least 28 types!) although Types 1, 2 and 3 are the most abundant in the body. Collagen supplements can be sourced from cows, marine animals and even pigs. Depending on the source of the collagen, the amino acid profile will vary slightly.
Take my Grass-Fed Collagen Protein as an example. This protein powder contains 19 amino acids total, but the most abundant amino acids, by far, are glycine, which makes up about a third of the amino acids in collagen and proline which makes up around 17%. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are also very important amino acids in collagen and both require vitamin C to be synthesized in the body. So be sure to have some vitamin C in your diet when supplementing with collagen for joints and skin health. (Note: good keto sources of vitamin C include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, citrus (including the zest and pith), berries, spinach and liver).
Collagen amino acids in my keto grass-fed collagen formula include:
- Glycine – about 1/3 of the amino acids in collagen
- Proline – about 17% of the amino acids in collagen
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid (glutamine)
It is important to include a variety of proteins in the diet to obtain all of the amino acids the body needs in sufficient amounts. Collagen protein can nicely complement a High Fiber Keto diet that includes muscle meat and dairy, as well as keto diets that include more vegetarian protein sources.
Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen Supplements for Joint Health
I know that because you are reading this, you care about your joints. Perhaps you may have been diagnosed with arthritis or have noticed joint pain become more prevalent with age. Even if your joints feel fine now, I’m sure you are interested in keeping them that way.
Many people get interested in collagen powder with hyaluronic acid for skin benefits because that is what is visible, but it can be equally as helpful for joint issues now, or for preventative measures in the future. Joint pain is often very private because it doesn’t show up on your face like skin aging does, but it can certainly impact how you feel and how you live.
Hyaluronic acid has been shown to keep bones well lubricated, which in turn decreases joint pain (5). Several studies have shown the benefits of hyaluronic acid for joints and osteoarthritis (6). Additionally, collagen helps to build and support the connective tissues that make up the joints and is also beneficial for osteoarthritis, as discussed above.
With age, both collagen and hyaluronic acid can decrease as the body is increasingly unable to maintain production and maintenance of these molecules. The result is less lubrication, less connective tissue and more friction in the joints. This means pain.
Supplementation gives the body more of these molecules to incorporate into the joints. You might not see a change in a day or in a week, as you might with pain medication, but over weeks and months as the body begins to rebuild the essential structure, many report significant improvements with both pain and inflammation.
Whether you have skin goals, joint goals or just health goals in general, both collagen and hyaluronic acid are important compounds to consider as a part of your daily routine. They are certainly two of my favorites that complements my High Fiber Keto lifestyle quite perfectly!