Why You Need Glycine, Hydroxyproline, and Proline in Your Collagen Supplement
Collagen peptides are a great way to keep your skin smooth and your joints flexible. What makes collagen so good at supporting skin and joints? The secret lies in its amino acid profile.
All proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. Each protein has a special combination of amino acids — the amino acid profile is what makes beef protein different from pea protein, for example.
Collagen is special because it contains an abundance of three precious amino acids that you won’t find in meaningful amounts in many other foods:
- Hydroxyproline (a special amino acid made from proline and lysine)
These three amino acids are the keys to collagen’s anti-aging and flexibility-boosting benefits.
In this article, you will learn:
- Why glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are essential for anti-aging
- The one thing you should always take with your collagen
- How to choose the best collagen supplement
How Collagen Supplements Work
When you eat collagen (say, bovine collagen or marine collagen), your digestive system breaks it down into amino acids (aka, the building blocks of protein). The amino acids make their way into your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Where the amino acids end up depends on your body’s needs.
The 3 Major Amino Acids in Collagen
Glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline — the three most plentiful amino acids in collagen supplements — often end up in fibroblasts, special cells in your skin and connective tissue. That’s because your body’s collagen has a nearly identical makeup to the collagen supplements you take. Human collagen is made almost entirely of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, in roughly the same ratio you find in collagen supplements.
It’s worth noting that glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline have powerful therapeutic benefits when taken individually; but only in really high doses. For instance, glycine may have therapeutic affects on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but only within the range of about 15–60 grams. That’s the equivalent of 15–20 servings of collagen powder.
It’s the combined power of these three amino acids that makes your collagen supplement effective.
When you take collagen peptides, your body disassembles it into plentiful raw materials, and then quickly uses those materials to build your own collagen. Collagen supplements also increase elastin, another compound that maintains moisture and elasticity in your skin and joints.
No surprise, then, that taking collagen daily makes skin more elastic and hydrated, and decreases visible wrinkles, or that taking collagen reduces activity-related joint pain in athletes.
Maximize Your Collagen with Vitamin C
Have you heard of scurvy? It used to be common in sailors who spent too long at sea without fresh fruits or vegetables. Their skin would get dry and brittle, and eventually their teeth and hair would start to fall out.
Sounds awful. Fortunately, people figured out why scurvy was happening. Sailors weren’t getting any vitamin C, and as a result, their collagen production was shutting down.
Vitamin C is an essential ingredient in collagen synthesis. Your body can have all the amino acids it needs, but if it’s short on vitamin C, it won’t be able to turn them into collagen and elastin.
Fortunately, vitamin C is easy to come by these days. If you’re looking for anti-aging benefits or you want to increase your joint flexibility, consider pairing your collagen protein with raw veggies or fruits, or with a couple grams of a vitamin C supplement. That’ll ensure that you have everything you need to start ramping up your collagen production.
How to Choose the Best Collagen Supplement
When choosing your collagen protein, always check to see if it’s hydrolyzed collagen (also called “collagen peptides”). Hydrolyzed collagen is partially broken down already. It’s easier to digest, which means you get maximum access to glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and the other precious amino acids in collagen. Intact collagen resists digestion, preventing you from using all of its nutrients.
Other things to look out for when choosing a collagen supplement:
- Look for those top three amino acids (glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) on the label.
- In fact, choose brands that are transparent about their product’s entire amino acid profile. Ideally, each amino acid will be listed on the label.
- Always opt for collagen from grass-fed cows or sustainably sourced (non-GMO, wild-caught) fish.
- Always go for 100% pure collagen peptides — no added flavors, dyes, or preservatives.
Check out our complete guide to collagen supplements to find out which type of collagen is best for you. Or, if you’re jumping to try collagen right now, pick up some of our grass-fed collagen or marine collagen. And don’t forget the vitamin C!