Q&A: Collagen and Biotin Supplements

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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have read that collagen and biotin are good for the body. What are these supplements and are they beneficial?

ANSWER: Collagen and biotin supplements appear to be gaining media attention for supporting healthy aging, as well as joint and bone health. However, it is important to understand what collagen and biotin are and what research is available to support these claims.

Collagen is concentrated in bones, ligaments, tendons, skin, blood vessels, and internal organs. It helps provide elasticity and strength. As you get older you start to lose collagen in your body and it becomes harder for you to make more of it.

At least 30% of your body’s protein content is made from collagen. Collagen is made up of four amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins: proline, glycline, lysine, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids are grouped together in a form known as a triple helix, and this is what makes up collagen. For this triple helix to form, you need to have enough vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese in your diet.

In the human body, 29 types of collagen have been identified, with three types constituting the vast majority.

Here are the types that you will typically find in a collagen supplement:

Type I

This type is found in bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin for elasticity and strength. The source of the supplement is from cattle and fish.

Type II

This type is cartilage. The source of the supplement is cartilage and chicken joints.

Type III

This type is found alongside type I in the skin, blood vessels, and internal organs. The source of the supplement is from cattle.

If you are considering taking a collagen supplement, either in liquid or powder form, it is important to mention that the triple helix that makes up collagen cannot be absorbed in its entire form. It will first be broken down into individual amino acids in the gastrointestinal tract before reaching the bloodstream. The body will then reassemble and form new proteins where it deems necessary and for a use that it deems necessary.

These new proteins may not contain the same amino acids that were originally ingested in the collagen supplement, and it is not known whether these restructured proteins will target the area that a supplement manufacturer is advertising. Therefore, it is not yet determined whether the body will use a collagen supplement that is believed to help the skin, hair, nails, and joints produce collagen that does. In addition, limited large-scale, long-term randomized controlled trials support the use and recommendation of collagen supplements for the general public.

From a general health standpoint, it is important to ensure an adequate amount of protein in your diet. As you age, your protein requirements increase slightly to maintain lean body mass. Eating foods that contain the main amino acids that make up collagen can help support healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints as you age.

These foods are good sources of glycine, proline, lysine, and hydroxyproline:

  • Bone broth
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Dairy products, especially Parmesan
  • Legumes
  • Non-genetically modified soybeans, such as tofu
  • Spirulina
  • Animal sources, such as red meat, poultry, pork, fish, and eggs

To promote collagen formation, it is also important to ensure an adequate intake of foods containing vitamin C, zinc, copper and manganese. These nutrients can be found by eating a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including green leafy and root vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds, especially hemp, pumpkin, and cashews.

Finally, it is important to be aware of what can damage collagen production. These factors include excess sugar, smoking, exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays, and environmental pollutants.

Biotin is a form of vitamin B7 that helps enzymes break down fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Although it has been marketed for healthier hair, skin, and nails, there is no evidence that taking additional biotin will achieve these claims.

Taking biotin in supplement form can only benefit those with an underlying medical condition that interferes with biotin or those with alcoholism who may be deficient. For the general population, a sufficient biotin intake of 30 micrograms per day can be obtained from the diet alone without the need for supplementation. Biotin is found in salmon, avocado, sweet potato, pork, nuts and seeds.

High doses of biotin (10 to 300 milligrams per day) can provide falsely high or low blood levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, vitamin D, and troponin. Therefore, it is important to let your health care provider know if you are taking a biotin supplement or any other supplement.

Respondent: Lisa Mejia, RDN, Nutrition Department, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida

Thinking of trying collagen supplements for your skin? Healthy food is better value for money

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Quote: Q and A: Collagen and Biotin Supplements (2021, August 23) retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-08-collagen-biotin-supplements.html

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