Today, livestock and fish are the main collagen sources for food products. Researchers, however, are experimenting with new collagen sources. Some biologists have extracted collagen from jellyfish and turtles. A group at MIT cultured bacteria that produced collagen.
Livestock Collagen Sources
Cows and pigs are perhaps the major source of collagen. Bovine collagen comes from cows, while porcine collagen is pig derived. Food grade bovine and porcine collagen is called gelatin. It is a main ingredient in some desserts. Gelatin comes from the bones, hooves, and connective tissue of cows and pigs. These parts are ground up, treated with a strong acid or base, and boiled. This breaks the collagen down into gelatin.
Traditional bovine or porcine collagen is also used to diminish facial wrinkles,but not as supplements. When used for this purpose, they are called dermal fillers. A doctor injects one or more fillers just below the skin where a wrinkle is. The collagen plumps the tissue below the wrinkle, which smoothing it out. Most researchers believe collagen molecular size is too large to be absorbed through digestion.
The results of collagen injections vary with the skill of the doctor. Even a well done collagen injection is temporary. Over time, the body breaks down collagen filler and the wrinkle slowly reappears.
TOKI is a collagen supplement from Canadian porcine hide, This is different than gelatin and ordinary livestock collagen. Toki is processed to reduce the collagen particle size, making it absorbable through oral intake Research suggests that Toki is reasonably well absorbed by the digestive system and transported through the circulatory system to the deeper layers of skin.
Human Collagen Sources
Supplements are not made from human collagen but some collagen fillers are. Autologen® and Alloderm® are used for lip augmentation. Human collagen is also used for injections to smooth out wrinkles. Autologen® is made from collagen taken from the patient's body and sent to a laboratory for processing. Alloderm® is made from the donated tissues of deceased humans.
Marine Collagen Sources
Fish skin and scales are waste products of the fishing industry. They also contain collagen. The collagen extracted from fish skin and scales is similar to mammalian collagen because both classes of animals share evolutionary roots. Like livestock collagen, marine collagen supplements generally are not well absorbed by the body.
Experimental Collagen Sources
Researchers are constantly looking for new sources of collagen. Scientists at Hokkaido University in Japan extracted collagen from the skin of soft-shelled turtles to see if it could be used in tissue engineering. They found that the collagen was similar to porcine collage, but that tissue growth in a matrix of the turtle collages was slower than tissue growth in a matrix of porcine collagen.
Investigators at Ocean University of China extracted collagen from jellyfish and evaluated its antioxidative properties. The researchers studied unaltered jellyfish collagen and an altered version of the jellyfish collagen called collagen hydrolysate. They found that both molecules combated the damage caused by UV light.
MIT biologists used Eschericia coli, a popular bacterium, to produce collagen. They inserted plasmids (rings of DNA) with instructions for making collagen into the bacteria. Then they tweaked the collagen production process to figure out optimum collagen production methods.
Collagen can come from many sources. Common collagen sources are human, pigs and cows. Some supplements have marine collagen which is extracted from the skin and scales of fish. Most collagen is so poorly absorbed that it is delivered through injection However, the collagen in TOKI is a unique form of porcine collagen with a much small particle size. That makes it absorbable through digestion.. Turtles, jellyfish, and bacteria are experimental collagen sources.
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