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November 10, 2020 6 min read

In this article:

  • What role does collagen play in your body?
  • What are the benefits of Type III collagen?
  • Dietary sources of Type III collagen
  • How to get more Type III collagen in your diet

Collagen's role in the body

There are about 28 known types of collagen in the human body, and more and more benefits are being uncovered almost every day! With all these different types of collagen, and especially when brands use the word "collagen" as an umbrella term, it can be difficult to know what types of collagen you're actually getting and which ones are doing the work! We know that in general, collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is a building block of our extracellular matrix. Specifically, collagen type I constitutes 80–85% of the dermal ECM, while collagen III constitutes 8–11%. Collagen protein is vital to the health of all the connective tissues, tendons, joints, blood vessels, teeth, and bones in our body. That's why we start to see almost total-body effects whenever our rates of collagen synthesis begin to drop. Our skin starts to thin, sag, wrinkle, and form cellulite and our joints become worn, causing discomfort and lack of mobility.

Type III is the second most abundant type of collagen. Type III collagen molecules are made of amino acids, primarily glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, which form into a triple helix type III procollagen molecule (think of it as a rope with three strands). Procollagen is then transported through Golgi, bonded, and its amino acids lysine and proline are modified so that it can cross-link between other molecules to form collagen fibrils. Fibrillogenesis occurs when all these fine fibrils come together and begin cross-linking with other molecules to form the strong solid collagen fibers that support your organs, muscles, and connective tissues.

Type III collagen is unique from other types of collagen both in its location and its function. The top three types of collagen all belong to the fibrillar collagen family:

  • Type I Collagen: Type I collagen accounts for 90% of your total collagen protein concentration. It's also the most popular choice when it comes to supplements, especially for alleviating skin conditions and promoting healthy hair. Along with type III collagen which helps to “boost” the benefits of type I, it can be found in your scar tissues, bones, skin, teeth, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type II Collagen: Collagen types II and III follow behind type I in abundance. Type II collagen is found exclusively in the cartilage that surrounds your joints, thus making it integral for healthy, happy joints. Collagen supplements high in type 2 collagen, such as bovine collagen, are a great choice for supporting joint health, even in the case of osteoarthritis and other conditions causing joint pain.
  • Type III Collagen: Type III collagen trails behind type I as the second most abundant type in the body. Type III collagen is concentrated primarily in your "hollow organs" like the intestines, blood vessels, and uterus, but it can also be found in the same areas as type I collagen in much smaller ratios. Type III collagen has benefits that stand apart from type I, but it also boasts many of the benefits of type I so you'll often find them together in most collagen supplements.

Benefits of Type III Collagen

  • Healthy Hearts:Type III collagen is uniquely integral for supporting the arterial walls, making it key for cardiovascular health. A 2017 study found that by taking an oral dose of type III collagen, artery stiffness went down considerably, thus helping to manage the risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Good for your gut: Additionally, because it is more heavily concentrated in the intestines, this type III collagen is often used to promote a healthy gut. One study found that an imbalance in type III collagen was common in people with Crohn's disease and may be used to help restore balance to your gut. Type III collagen supplementation may also help IBS sufferers by strengthening the intestine walls and helping to manage inflammation.

Types I and III collagen are truly the most iconic duo. Studies have even found that type III collagen is an essential component of the type I collagen fibrils. Together, they have the following benefits:

  • Soothe skin conditions: Supplements high in types I and III are like a superfood for managing skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. It may help to reduce redness, inflammation, and dryness of the skin.
  • Ward off signs of aging: If you've ever purchased a collagen product, be it an overnight cream or supplement, it's likely that it contained both types I and III. Collagen is known for its anti-aging benefits and has been found to help manage fine lines, wrinkles, and celluliteby thickening and strengthening the dermis.
  • Hydrates skin:One particular study found that oral intake of collagen peptides significantly increased skin hydration and kept the skin hydrated for weeks even after supplementation concluded. Who knew your best skin moisturizer came in powdered form?!
  • Helps keep hair rooted: All of these skin strengthening benefits cross-link with hair loss too! By keeping the scalp where your hair follicles are rooted healthy, it can protect against hair loss while allowing your hair to absorb more nutrients. This results in thicker, glossier, healthier hair.
  • Supplement the body's natural wound healing process: Type III collagen is particularly important during the early phases of wound healing. Then, type I synthesis, which is also triggered by an injury, begins to form the foundation of scar tissue.
  • Build lean muscle mass: Types I and III collagen have been shown to work hand in hand to boost muscle cells and create lean muscle tissues. This is due in part to its amino acid content which includes glycine and hydroxyproline.

When your body has all the collagen it needs, your skin is firm and fresh, your joints are sturdy and flexible, and the bones in your body are healthy and strong. However, when the COL3A1 gene (the gene that encodes type III collagen) becomes mutated, it can lead to EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type IV) which leaves individuals prone to spontaneous ruptures of bowel and large arteries. Insufficient levels of type III collagen can also lead to wrinkles, hair loss, brittle nails, and stiff joints.

Where to find type III collagen: Your diet

Since collagen is a protein, you can find it in your typical protein-heavy foods such as meats, dairy, fish, and eggs. Vitamin C and the minerals zinc, manganese, and copper can also boost collagen synthesis so make sure to plan your weekly dinners to include lots of citruses, grains, green veggies like brussels sprouts and broccoli, and nuts. Wherever your diet falls short, collagen supplements can be added! There are many different kinds of collagen products on the market from creams to supplements. Here are a few things to keep in mind to choose the best supplements for your muscles, hair, skin and nails.

How to get more of it

Even though collagen is synthesized naturally in the body, our collagen production drops by about 1.5% a year after the age of 30. Your body's collagen can also become damaged by vitamin C deficiencies, autoimmune diseases that attack your body's protein, and bacteria such as the enzyme collagenase. This is where supplements come into play!

Collagen peptides from grass-fed cows are a great source of types I and III collagen. Just make sure it's free of additives and is hydrolyzed so it can be absorbed and used by the body more efficiently! Both gelatin and grass-fed collagen peptides contain collagen types I and III. Outside of supplements, bone broth soups are one of the few dishes that contain beef gelatin. However, powdered beef gelatin supplements can be added to many dishes like pumpkin pie or fruit gummies to add a little extra spring to your meal and type III collagen in your gut! Lastly, marine collagen is another excellent source and contains even more type 3 collagen (approx. 10%). It is also a popular choice for pescatarian diets. Marine collagen is the most bioavailable collagen supplement on the market and is easy to incorporate into your daily meals and cups of coffee to support your hair, skin, nails, and muscles.

These supplements heal the skin, hair, and nails from the inside out. However, there are also plenty of collagen creams to fight your skin’s natural signs of aging. Just remember to pair them with a scoop of collagen a day to keep the wrinkles away. If you need help choosing between marine collagen and grass-fed collagen peptides, just reach out to our product experts!

Summary Points

  • Type III is the second most abundant type of collagen
  • Type III collagen molecules are made of amino acids, primarily glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline
  • Type III collagen is concentrated primarily in your "hollow organs" like the intestines, blood vessels, and uterus, but it can also be found in the same areas as type I collagen
  • Type III collagen is uniquely integral for supporting the arterial walls, making it key for cardiovascular health
  • Type III collagen supplementation may also help IBS sufferers by strengthening the intestine walls and helping to manage inflammation

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Article References:

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collagen,_type_III,_alpha_1
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2306-5354/6/3/56/htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429168/
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/potential-health-benefits-of-collagen-and-thing-it-cant-do/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/collagen-type-3
  6. https://www.allevi3d.com/product/human-collagen-type-iii/

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