Natural Collagen & Collagen Peptides: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Collagen is an integral protein when it comes to our daily functioning. Without it, much of our body would not be possible. It controls things like scar tissue, the cartilage between our bones, the elasticity of our skin and so much more. So why don’t we take better care of it?

So many people destroy their collagen and don’t even realize it until its too late. Most of the time it’s an afterthought. Think about it, if you want to get a tan at the beach, nine times out of ten you don’t end up wearing sunscreen. This puts your skin smack in the line of harmful UV rays which then break down the collagen in your skin. Of course, there are other things that we can’t always control, like the environment we live in. So, what do we do?

First things first, it’s best to learn about the natural collagen within your bodies and then we can talk about how to mend it.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a structural protein in the extracellular matrix, this is a three dimensional network of collagen, enzymes, and glycoproteins. It is the main connective tissue and thus is the most plentiful protein in mammals. It is in various tissues such as skin, tendons, and ligaments. Not only this, it makes up roughly 25% to 35% of the body’s protein content.

Depending on how hard or soft the collagen needs to be, there are certain degrees of mineralization. For example, in the structure of bones, collagen tissue is rigid; however, when it comes to something like a tendon, the collagen tissue is more pliable. Although most commonly found in skin, tendons, and ligaments, collagen can also be found in places like the corneas of your eyes, blood vessels, and even dentin in your teeth.

What are the Main Types of Collagen?

There are several types of collagen that exist naturally within the body, each one given a specific job. However, most of the collagen that can be found in the human body is type 1. There are over 30 types of collagen that exist thus far; however, only five make the cut as being the most common. Type I is in charge of skin, tendons, organs, bones, and vasculature; II is in charge of cartilage; III commonly works alongside type I and is in charge of reticulate; IV forms basal lamina and type V works on cell surfaces, hair, and the placenta when pregnant. But what do each of these types do for the body?

Functions of the 5 Main Collagen Types

Type I

Type I collagen is the most abundant in the human body making up roughly 90% of the overall collagen content. It forms fibers known as eosinophilic. These fibers are collagen fibers. Type I collagen is present in things like scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, organic parts of bone, dentin, and the dermis of the skin.

Type II

The second type of collagen makes up roughly 50% of the protein in cartilage and between 85% and 90% of collagen for articular cartilage. It is the foundation for both articular cartilage, which is the smooth white tissue that cover the ends of bones where they form the joint, and hyaline cartilage, which is the cartilage that is glass-like translucent and is in your nose, ribs, trachea and larynx.

Type III

Fun fact, type III is a homotrimer, this means that it is a protein that is made up of three identical chains. These are collagen type III, alpha 1 chains. This particular type of collagen consists of fibrillar collagens that has proteins which are long, inflexible, and triple-helical domain. This type of collagen are a structural component of organs, but it also regulates the diameter of both type I and type II collagen fibrils.

Type IV

When searching for type IV collagen, you can commonly find it in the basal lamina. This is a layer of extracellular matrix which commonly secretes from the epithelial cells. This is where the epithelium, or the outer later of thin tissue, is at.

Type V

Type V collagen is a fibrillar collagen, usually an autoimmunity against this type of collagen happens with lung transplant failure. This variation of collagen is within the dermal and epidermal junction. It can also be in the placenta during pregnancy.

How Collagen Forms

The basis of how it forms is pretty much the same for each type. There are two main components, the inside and outside of the cell. Within these components, the body takes certain steps to form these proteins.

Inside the Cell

1: During the translation on ribosomes, two types of alpha chains are formed. These two alpha chains are appropriately named alpha 1 and alpha 2. They are formed along the rough endoplasmic reticulum and are known as preprocollagen. These preprocollagen peptides have a signal peptide as well as a registration peptide on each end.

2: Polypeptide chains are then released into the lumen, or the area enclosed by the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, of the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER).

3: Once inside the RER, signal peptides are split, and the chains are considered to be pro-alpha chains.

4: The process of hydroxylation of both lysine and proline amino acids occurs. In this process, a hydroxyl group is introduced to the organic compound. All of this occurs within the lumen, and the process depends on Vitamin C as a cofactor.

5: This is the step where glycosylation, or the reaction where a carbohydrate attaches to a hydroxyl group, for specific hydroxylysine residue.

6: At this point in the formation of collagen within the cell, a triple alpha helical structure is formed. This specific structure is formed withing the endoplasmic reticulum from two alpha-1 chains and a singular alpha-2 chain.

7: After all of that, you finally reach the final step within the cell. At this point procollagen is shipped to the Golgi apparatus. This is a compound of vesicles, which are small fluid filled sacs, cysts, or vacuole in the body. Once it is here, it is “packaged” and then secreted by exocytosis.

Outside the Cell

Step 1: Registration peptides are split and tropocollagen, or the basic structural unit of collagen, is formed by procollagen peptidase. Peptidase basically means that it breaks down the peptides into amino acids.

Step 2: Once created tropocollagen molecules then form collagen fibrils. Then, once this happens, these collagen fibrils then form into collagen fibers.

Step 3: Finally, the collagen is then attached to cell membranes using various types of proteins including integrin, laminin, fibronectin, and fibulin.

Okay, so now you have a knowledge of what collagen is, the different types of collagen, and even how it’s made. What’s next? Well, what happens when you start to lose these collagen proteins over time?

When Collagen Levels Hit A Low

Collagen is probably one of the most important proteins within the body. It takes care of muscles, bones, ligaments, organs, and even connective tissues. So, what happens when it drops with age? For one, you can say goodbye to the elasticity and plumpness of your skin. When collagen starts to drop, wrinkles start to form. Not only that, you may notice your joints start to get stiffer, which can possibly lead into things like osteoporosis.

Usually, adding certain things to your diet can help you gain some collagen back. However, what happens when that’s not enough? Then what do you do? If bone broth doesn’t end up doing the trick, collagen peptides are the next best thing.

What Constitutes a Collagen Peptide?

Because of the small size of collagen peptides, they typically absorb very quickly into the body. Ahigh level of specific amino acids such as glycine, hydroxyproline, proline and alanine characterize collagen peptides. But what do these amino acids do that’s so great for collagen production?


Glycine is an amino acid that has a single hydrogen atom as its side chain. It is the simplest amino acid and is one of the proteinogenic amino acids. Proteinogenic amino acids are amino acids that integrate biosynthetically into proteins during the process of translation. It is the integral part of the formation of alpha helices making it the most abundant amino acid in collagen triple-helices.


When it comes to hydroxyproline, it is a major component of collagen. Its role is to stabilize the collagen triple helix as well as an indicator of how much collagen is in your system.


Proline, like glycine, is a proteinogenic amino acid. Its main purpose is in the use of biosynthesis of proteins. Biosynthesis is basically the balancing act of lost cellular proteins and new ones.


Alanine is another amino acid that helps in the process of creating proteins. Typically, it breaks down tryptophan and Vitamin B6. On its own it is a source of energy for muscles and the nervous system all while strengthening the immune system.

What Forms of Collagen Peptides Work?

There are three different forms of collagen peptides out on the market currently. They consist of serums, creams, and powders. So, how do you know which one is the right choice?


Collagen serums enhance the type of collagen found in skin cells. In other words, the type in charge of elasticity and structure. These types of peptides typically cannot penetrate the dermis because of there size; however, they still can fill in fine lines and wrinkles effectively.

Something to consider when choosing a serum based collagen peptide is to make sure you know your skin type. For example, if you have acne prone skin, you’d want a serum that includes salicylic acid as one of its ingredients; whereas, if you have dry skin, you’d want something with hyaluronic acid.

Most serums include amino acids or peptides such as acetyl hexapeptide, palmitoyl oligopeptide, and palmitoyl pentapeptide. These peptides have shown an affinity to enhance collagen production.

Acetyl Hexapeptide

Acetyl Hexapeptide, marketed as Argireline, is a synthetic anti-wrinkle ingredient that is a fragment of SNAP-25. SNAP-25 is a substrate of Botox and is known to be a tightening complex.

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide is a peptide that is being used in the realm of skincare. Some experts believe that this peptide has the ability to communicate directly with collagen which then helps achieve smooth, wrinkle free skin.

Palmitoyl Pentapeptide

Palmitoyl Pentapeptide is a peptide much like Acetyl Hexapeptide in that it is used as an anti-wrinkle agent in cosmetics. Its trade name is Matrixyl and was launched into the personal care industry back in 2000.

Results with Collagen Peptide Serums

In order to gain the best results, it is often recommended to use serums twice a day. You’ll want to apply it to a freshly washed face that has already had toner applied. Once the serum is applied you can apply your sunscreens or moisturizers.

You’re probably wondering if a serum can take the place of your normal moisturizer. For those with oilier skin this is a possibility. However, if you have dryer skin, you’ll still want a good moisturizer to help your skin along.


If you’re not one to just mask the symptoms of aging, you can try using collagen peptide pills instead. Using these kinds of supplements is relatively easy as they can be taken like a vitamin and start working quickly.

Many specialist have tested dosages of 2.5 grams all the way up to 10 grams a day. However, most companies selling these supplements have gone as high at 30 grams per day in their pills. So, the best option is to ask your doctor what the best dose is for you.


Some prefer to ingest their collagen peptides differently. This may be due to an inability to swallow pills or that they want more benefits out of their collagen peptides than serums can offer. In most cases, people have added their favorite peptide collagen to a cup of coffee. This seems to be one of the more effective ways to take collagen peptides because it allows your body to pull them from the coffee as they’re digested.

Side Effects that May Occur

There haven’t been many risks associated with taking collagen as a supplement. However, something to consider is that most of these collagen peptides come from common food allergens including shellfish and eggs. So be sure to check the ingredients before beginning your regimen. Another thing to bear in mind is that collagen supplements can sometimes cause a feeling of being full or even heartburn. Either way, these supplements are some of the safest supplements for most people looking to give their collagen a boost.

Other Peptides that Aid Collagen

There are several other peptides that aid in skincare that are not specific to the skincare world. Some of these peptides are copper peptides, copper peptides give the body an extra boost when helping out collagen production. A good example of this type of peptide would be GHK-Cu. Another peptide that has shown an affinity to help with aging is Epitalon. Purchase GHK-CU and Epitalon peptides from Paradigm Peptides for your skincare routine today!