We’ve all heard about collagen before and have a basic understanding of what it is. If you’re not familiar, collagen is simply a structural protein that is found abundantly throughout the body, playing important roles in overall health and wellbeing.
What is not very well known is the fact that there are over a dozen types of collagen protein, and that they aren’t all the same.
In this article, we will take a look at Type 1 Collagen and its roles in the body.
What Is Type 1 Collagen?
Type 1 Collagen is the most abundant collagen in the human body; accounting for between 75-90% of the total collagen. It comprises much of the collagen found in hair, skin, and nails, but NOT so significantly in cartilaginous tissue such as around joints.
Type 1 Collagen is also the primary collagen subtype that comprises the organic constituent of bone and is attached to the root of teeth as something called the cementum. This type of collagen also lines organ and blood vessel walls.
Functions of Type 1 Collagen
Not surprisingly, collagen type 1 has been the most extensively studied of all the subtypes, and has been found to have the following important functions:
Maintenance Of Youth
The barrage of anti-aging products on the market contains some form of “hydrolyzed” type one collagen, which in theory is supposed to give your body what it needs and turn back the hands of time. It doesn’t work this way, however, as collagen is poorly absorbed via the skin.
In fact, you would need to consume it in order to have it absorbed and subsequently, used by the body.
Collagen taken in this manner will reduce the appearance of cosmetic blemishes such as fine lines, reduced hair quality, and brittle nails.
Enhances The Tensile Strength Of Bone
The tensile strength of bone refers to its load-bearing capacity. Bone is not made up of “dead” material such as calcium stores alone but also has a very alive component. This “organic” segment, as it is called, needs collagen to form a supportive matrix that makes the body capable of withstanding weight-bearing.
Bone mass density is not just a measure of the amount of calcium in the bone but also its collagen density which adds structural integrity to it as a whole.
This also explains why the elderly, oftentimes with reduced protein and caloric intake, are prone to fractures and falls as the bone density is just not sufficient to support the load.
Recovery and Recuperation
Collagen may not be the first protein that comes to mind when you think of recovery, especially if you are an athlete. We have been brainwashed that whey is the end-all; even though there are many other viable options out there.
Collagen remains a very real recuperative protein, but not as a stand-alone protein source. This is because collagen powders are not complete proteins- they are missing the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Combined with whey, the recuperative properties may become synergistic and additive (1+1=3).
The aging population and people recovery from sickness may see the greatest benefit from type 1 collagen supplementation, as vitamin C which is depleted during illness leads to reduced natural collagen production and a slew of associated deficiency symptoms (more on that later).
Signs Of Low Collagen Levels
While premature aging is as much genetic as it is environmental, low collagen type 1 levels will contribute to the poor condition of the skin, hair and nails, and overall appearance of poor health.
Yes- even though this collagen subtype is not the predominant one in joint tissue, low levels will still contribute to joint discomfort.
The gumline and below comprises heavily of collagen heavy tissue. The body is generally capable of synthesizing enough collagen given that your protein intake is moderate and your vitamin C consumption is sufficient, but during illness, for example, vitamin C stores are so rapidly used up that these supporting functions are just not priority enough.
As a result, the gumline tissue weakens and can be damaged as a result of traumatic brushing of teeth.
Easy Damage To Connective Tissue
This may include easy scarring, skin tears, or even organ damage following only minor events. The risk of stroke and other vascular events is also increased.
How To Increase Collagen Type 1 In The Body
Since there is an intrinsic maximum that the body is capable of producing (and this declines with age), the best thing you can do is to ensure you are topping off the stores with exogenous sources.
This means foods like bone broth, which is abundant in collagen type 1, chondroitin, and several amino acids. Eggs and fish with the skin are other superb sources of type 1 collagen.
Besides this, a powdered supplement supplying hydrolyzed peptides are the way to go, since collagen is not absorbed easily via the digestive tract while intact. Collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides all refer to the same thing.
Citrus and vitamin C rich foods are also advised as a way to naturally increase collagen synthesis, although they do not directly increase the levels.
What Collagen Type 1 Means For Athletes
Athletes need collagen more than the average person for a few reasons. For one, without a doubt, the joints take a solid beating- especially if your poison is distance running. You need to support recovery.
Secondly, is organ health. You may have heard horror stories of athletes excreting blood in the urine or stool for days to weeks following an intense training session or competition. Though not solely a result of collagen deficiency, you can definitely reduce the likelihood of this occurring by supporting the integrity of these organ walls.
Well-timed glutamine will also help deliver a one-two punch for recovery and decrease this occurrence. There is also evidence that training increases the natural synthesis of type 1 collagen in the Achilles tendon, as was investigated by Langberg et al and published in the Journal of Physiology in July 2001.
Added to that are benefits it can have for your bone density, helping mitigate the effects of oxidative damage and lending a hand to muscle recovery and you have a solid alibi in collagen.
Where To Buy Type 1 Collagen
Type 1 collagen can be bough as a standalone supplements but it is much more effective when combined with Type II, III, and IV collagen. That's why Brickhouse Nutrition created Radiance. A collagen powerhouse clinically proven to promote active joints and healthy connective tissues to battle against the wear-and-tear of everyday life.
There is still a lot to be learned about collagen type 1. However, without a doubt, intense training requires adequate nutrition, including collagen-rich foods if you wish to continue working at a high-performance level.
- Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
- Svensson RB, Hassenkam T, Grant CA, Magnusson SP. Tensile properties of human collagen fibrils and fascicles are insensitive to environmental salts. Biophys J. 2010;99(12):4020-4027. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2010.11.018
- Langberg H, Rosendal L, Kjaer M. Training-induced changes in peritendinous type I collagen turnover determined by microdialysis in humans. J Physiol. 2001;534(Pt 1):297-302. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7793.2001.00297.x