Collagen Absorption: Get you Collagen to work for you!
Collagen Absorption: Get Your Collagen to Work For You
You are already taking a Collagen supplement. One assumes you have done some homework and are taking a highly-recommended supplement. You’ve read that many studies have shown collagen oral supplements can significantly improve skin's hydration and elasticity as well improve the condition of muscle, cartilage, bone and tendons (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29114654/).
Collagen supplementations benefits are not disputed. There are thousands of articles that have been written on the subject of collagen. Wellness professionals and nutrition contributors have weighed in on the subject ranging from numerous benefits, noting collagen types (I, II and III), collagen sources (bovine and marine), and how each rank. The list of information goes on and on.
But is your Collagen really working for you?
For some people, collagen works wonders. However, many people report that their months of collagen supplementation just isn’t doing the trick. They’re still having issues with joint health, injury recovery, or just aren’t seeing skin and hair health results.
Collagen (and all supplements) must be incorporated holistically for proper absorption. Mineral and vitamin balance is crucial here. Let’s start with the basics of collagen absorption in order to understand the best way to absorb and reap the benefits of collagen.
The Break Down on Collagen
Collagen supplements are actually natural collagen processed through hydrolysis, breaking down collagen sources into a smaller form to enhance the body's ability to absorb and use the supplement. These supplements are known as Collagen Hydrolysate or Collagen Peptides, sourced from either Bovine or Marine proteins. While natural collagen from food relies on the body to break it down, Collagen Hydrolysate is already partially broken down to assist in digestion. Smaller molecules ensure better absorption during the digestion process.
Collagen in The Bloodstream
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. In the bloodstream, its molecule forms a unique amino acid, Hydroxyproline, also known as Proline. Hydroxyproline is formed when Prolidase, an enzyme, cleaves the peptide bond. As we mentioned, Collagen Hydrolysate is better at absorption due to it’s small molecule size. Ingesting a collagen supplement, collagen hydrolysate, studies show a large increase of Hydroxyproline in the blood (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213548/). The more Hydroxyproline in the bloodstream the greater the chances for increased beneficial effects to hair, skin and joints.
Sounds pretty easy and perfect right?
Perfect maybe, but not necessarily so easy...
The Missing Link: Hydroxyproline
Let's define this information a bit and add a couple of more studies. There are three important words in play in this equation.
- Collagen Hydrolysate or Collagen Peptides - The supplement “Collagen”
- Prolidase - The enzyme which breaks down Collagen
- Hydroxyproline - The metabolically changed molecule found in the bloodstream
The goal for improved benefits is to achieve high levels of Hydroxyproline in your blood. Collagen Hydrolysate cannot just go "poof" and get absorbed in the bloodstream. Collagen Hydrolysate has to be broken down by the Prolidase. The Prolidase has to have a cofactor or helper to break the molecule down.
"Metabolically, the process requires amino acid precursors, as well as various trace minerals, vitamins, and oxygen as cofactors. However, the question of whether the administration of certain nutrients can specifically enhance collagen synthesis or lead to improved outcomes continues to be unanswered." (https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/147/11/2011/4743236?searchresult=1)
This is why we did some digging. As we expected, there is another factor to this supplementation that has not been addressed in collagen products.
Manganese for Hydroxyproline
Human Prolidase is the enzyme responsible for the hydrolysis (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/hydrolysis) or breaking down of the Peptide Bonds (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/peptide-bond) in naturally occurring, ingested collagen. If we ate enough natural collagen, Prolidase would be the key player in the final stages of the cleavages of these bonds of the collagen molecules.
Studies have shown Manganese, Mn, a trace element micronutrient, was proven to be the cofactor (makes the enzyme active) and necessary for prolidase to be active. The Manganese ion was demonstrated to be necessary for prolidase structural integrity and function. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1570963912002129?via%3Dihub#!) These processes have to happen for the Collagen to become Hydroxyproline is the bloodstream and available for the body to use.
Great. Just add Manganese: But Wait...Here is the problem
Studies show needed micronutrients, like Manganese, taken orally, may not be well absorbed in the small intestine. (https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.256404)
So what’s the alternative?
For thousands of years, people have soaked in mineral water for both general wellness and medicinal purposes to absorb needed micronutrient minerals through the skin and nasal passages. In the last 30 years, many European studies have demonstrated the health benefits of balneotherapy for reducing stress and improving health related issues because of the micronutrient influx. According to one of these in-depth studies, “Enteral (small intestine absorption) micronutrient supplementation may seem like a reasonable strategy to augment absorption, but a number of biochemical and physiologic barriers exist that limit this strategy." (https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/147/11/2011/4743236?searchresult=1)This means these micronutrients do not absorb well taken orally taken as supplements.
Dr. Heiner Fruehauf, a world-renowned professor of holistic medicine at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, shared his thoughts on the issue. "In Chinese Medicine, the Small Intestine channel network is called Taiyang Ocean Water, which is a reference to its function of absorbing minerals. This functional network governs both the mucous membranes inside the anatomical small intestine and the skin layer. This does indeed mean that minerals can be absorbed in both ways [internally and externally]. At the same time, I think it is a great idea to think of ways (like mineral baths) to absorb nutrients in non-internal ways when internal absorption is compromised."
The Fix Is In: Absorb Manganese Through Your Skin
A soak in a natural mineral bath with natural Manganese plus other micronutrients would be a fantastic way to solve the problem. However, most of us do not live near mineral spas.
A good solution is getting a mineral-rich mix for home and hopping into a bath. There are plenty of mineral bath mixes, but many of them don’t necessarily focus on Manganese. Ohm Only Healing Minerals’s pure ground mineral formulas, like Elements & Simple Baths are made with pure Rhodochrosite, a mineral containing large amounts of Manganese. Soaking in an Ohm mineral bath for 20-40 minutes allows the skin time to absorb needed micronutrients. If you want a non-bath solution, try Ohm's Just.Add.Aloe, a Aloe pump jar + Elements blend, used as an all over supplement or Elements Mineral Diffusing Blend (https://ohmstateofmind.com/collections/mineral-diffusing-blends/products/elements-diffusing-blend). Ohm’s powerful Elements formula + Sea Salt mixed with water, diffused in an essential oil diffuser, allows you to breathe in Manganese as enjoyed at natural mineral spas.
Just a few short weeks using mineral products containing Manganese will enhance your collagen -- and your collagen will enhance you.
Ruth Findlay is a geochemist and wellness specialist. She focuses on rebalancing the body by addressing mineral deficiencies. She is the founder of Ohm, Only Healing Minerals (http://ohmstateofmind.com), Micro✦Minerals, Micro✦Minerals Dermal Absorption.