by Dr. David Minkoff October 12, 2017 4 min read
There’s an awful lot of hype going on about collagen supplements right now.
In an internet meme-fueled culture that often falls prey to fads and media hype, we must be very cautious when a new product shows up with bold health claims.
We must rationally look at what is presented and compare it with what we already know. We need to look at the research, put it all together and see if the claims really check out.
So how do claims about collagen supplements really stack up?
Collagen: The Body’s Most Abundant Protein
Collagen accounts for about 25% of the entire protein content in your whole body. That is a lot of protein, comparatively speaking.
It is made of three massive strands, each one more than 1,400 amino acids long, that weave together like a rope or cable. These cables are then joined together to create connective and structural tissues, fulfilling a number of critical functions in the body:
Clearly, it is an important protein.
The Faulty Logic of Collagen Supplement Claims
With all of these essential functions collagen provides to your body, it’s tempting to think that any problems or symptoms we might face in one of these areas could be just solved by ingesting more collagen.
If we were cooking up a big pot of soup and it needed more salt, we would just add more salt. It’s pretty simple. You just put whatever you need into the pot and then it’s done.
Our bodies, however, are a little more complex than soup. If we are experiencing joint pain or gut issues, it’s just not as straightforward as adding in some more collagen and then the problem is solved.
Purveyors of collagen supplements may be quick to point out a number of scientific studies, each pointing to the statistically significant results that collagen has had on different health outcomes.
“Look, just look at the results! Collagen does this and that and the other thing!” they may say.
But is it actually the collagen creating those results?
Where Collagen Research Results are REALLY Coming From
To answer this question, we need to back up a little bit and look at how our digestive system really works. When you eat protein, it doesn’t go through your digestive tract in the same state as it is and then plug directly into your body fully formed, which is the impression you might get from reading the collagen hype.
It is digested.
It is broken down into its component parts so your body can use these parts to build its own proteins according to its own needs.
Every protein – whether from steak, beans, fish, a kangaroo, or even crickets – all of it is broken down into amino acids. Your stomach makes no distinction whether it is an enzyme or a muscle fiber.
Or even collagen.
So what is really happening in these studies showing results from collagen supplementation?
The collagen is broken down into amino acids, and these amino acids are then reassembled into new collagen. With the raw materials to build more collagen, hair and skin improve, joint pains fade away, the gut lining begins to repair itself and heal leaky gut.
The results are coming from having the enough amino acids to drive protein synthesis, notfrom the collagen itself. This is a subtle but important distinction.
Why Does This Distinction Matter?
It’s easy to dismiss this difference in language as some sort of academic fluff, irrelevant to real life. Afterall, if it’s getting results, who really cares?
But if your goal is to get somewhere, is it faster to walk or ride a bike? In both cases you’re moving towards your goal, but one of them is much more efficient.
The results themselves are dependent on protein synthesis. That’s what actually creates the improvements in symptoms. And as it turns out, we can measure protein synthesis efficiency with a metric known as the Amino Acid Utilization™, or AAU™.
Protein Metabolism and Synthesis: How Collagen Compares to Most Protein Sources
This might surprise you, but not all of the protein you eat is used to make protein in your body. In fact, most of it is wasted. It is used to make energy, and then eliminated as waste.
The primary waste product of this process is nitrogen, which is eliminated through urine. The AAU is determined by looking at the amount of protein coming in and the amount of nitrogen coming out. The more nitrogen coming out, the less the consumed protein was used for protein synthesis.
Most protein sources, like meat, chicken, and fish, have an AAU of 32%.
And collagen, an animal derived protein, is roughly a little more. Only 16% of the collagen in collagen supplements actually gets turned into real collagen in your body.
How to Get 99% AAU: The Ultimate in Protein Synthesis Efficiency
Through extensive study and testing, nutritional scientists have found a very specific ratio of essential amino acids that your body uses to drive protein synthesis. When this specific ratio is present, 99% of all the amino acids are used to build more protein – including collagen.
This is the exact same ratio we use in our formula of PerfectAmino. If you truly want to gain the benefits claimed by collagen supplements, don’t walk to your goals, use a bike. Take the fast track. Give Perfect Amino a try and see the results for yourself.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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