We’re going to take a look at how some nutrition products like biotin and collagen interact with the biology of our body, and whether or not they’re actually worth the money. We’re going to do a high-level overview of collagen and vitamin B7.
Collagen for internal use
Collagen is sold in topical applications such as creams and in oral supplements like collagen peptides. They’re marketed as something that you eat to miraculously build your skin, hair, and nails. While collagen is important and makes up a large amount of our body and the majority of our skin, it doesn’t work that way.
Simply eating collagen doesn’t mean that more collagen will be produced within the body. Collagen lives in the lower level of our skin, the dermis, and it’s made by a special cell called a fibroblast, but the fibroblasts don’t require “collagen” to make collagen. Fibroblasts make collagen from amino acids. You can think of amino acids like building blocks that come from your diet.
And while fibroblasts need these amino acids or building blocks, they also need other ingredients. They need vitamin C, zinc, and copper to compose a recipe that makes real collagen inside of your body.
After it’s made, collagen gives our skin structure and works together with elastin to make our skin look firm and plump.
For this reason, collagen is often seen as a skincare and beauty supplement. However, collagen is not specifically for your face. Collagen is a protein found in your smooth muscle, your connective tissue, and other places in your body. Collagen is a protein composed of amino acids. Once again, amino acids are building blocks that turn into collagen. They’re assembled into chains or peptide chains that resemble a pearl necklace, and then they turn into a protein or collagen as they fold into a final shape.
These proteins serve multiple functions throughout our bodies, and the amino acids are the most fundamental to this process.
In the human body, there are 21 amino acids, eleven are non-essential, and nine of them are not.
Collagen specifically needs the amino acids, glycine and proline, but it can also use some of the other amino acids to compose itself. Collagen can create itself in many different ways because it’s your body's job is to create vital proteins. That's why simply taking collagen supplements is nonessential.
However, there is an important amino present in collagen supplements. It's called hydroxyproline. Hydroxyproline allows the amino acids to twist into the special shape of collagen. So, again it’s important, but our body already creates it. So, even if we eat more collagen from cows, pigs, and horses, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you'll form more collagen. When you ingest collagen, it breaks down first. It goes through your stomach, your small intestines, and then it gets pulled apart into those tiny amino acids. As they are absorbed through the lining of your intestines and broken down into those little pieces, they are repackaged and sent through the bloodstream. But as the amino acids circulate through your bloodstream, it’s not only goes to your skin, but it goes to wherever your body sends it. For example, if you have an issue with a tendon or ligament, the amino acids are going travel there to repair things.
Science has not found a way to specifically trace and predict the paths of amino acids so we don’t if collagen supplement really go to the skin.
It’s true that some report their skin gaining firmness from these supplement. Some said their skin felt more oily, but this could be a placebo effect. When you look at these studies, they’re flawed. Some don’t have a placebo group, and if a study is conducted with no placebo group or no control group, you don’t really know if you’re getting a benefit. On top of that, a lot of these studies are paid for not pharma companies but by the companies that are selling collagen. So, they have a financial incentive to make sure that their data looks good for them. Lastly, a lot of these supplements aren’t just collagen, they also contain other ingredients like amino acids. When you’re mixing so many variables in one supplement, there’s no way to tell which ingredient is truly giving the benefits.
Ultimately when it comes down to it, It’s amino acids that create collagen. If you’re body doesn’t have a good dietary source of amino acids, that won’t be optimal for collagen production. In contrast to eating something like gelatin, which is collagen, a supplement with a full amino acid profile will be a better collagen supplement. Eating something with proline and lysine, the two products that make up collagen. would be a better choice.
Vitamin B7/ Biotin for Internal Use
Medical studies don’t show much about biotin, and the most significant studies were done on dogs. We do know though that biotin is water-soluble. So, if you take too much of it, your body doesn’t hold onto. It comes out in urine. Secondly, biotin is a cofactor to other enzymes. It helps your body to use nutrients properly like fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids. It helps your body function, but biotin does not specifically target the hair and nails because this happens all over the body, and anyways it’s likely to be excreted since the body does not want biotin build up within its tissue.
So basically, there’s no harm in taking these supplements. We just wouldn't recommend spending a tremendous amount of money on them.
For a video explanation, click here.