What do firm skin, shiny hair, stable bones, strong muscles and wound healing have to do with a fresh steak or a slice of cold cuts? Directly or indirectly, they all come from the same supplier: from the beef, pork, sheep or chicken that is used for our meat consumption. But only about half of the respective animal ends up in the meat and sausage counters. The rest are by-products such as the versatile collagen.
Without this structural protein of connective tissue, our body would be missing something very important. It is found in bones, tendons, skin, cartilage, blood vessels as well as teeth and accounts for about one third of the total amount of protein in our body. Collagen fibers are our little "body builders" because they can carry weights up to ten thousand times their own weight - but also much more. So it's no wonder that companies have specialized in recycling animal by-products to extract this precious substance from bones, tendons and hides.
Manufacturers have now developed their own brands to market collagen peptides as an integral part of a healthy diet.
Cereal mix to combat wrinkles and dull hair
The growing portion of our aging population is not the only important customer group for collagen products. Younger people who are beauty and body conscious are also interested in nutrient cosmetics. Collagen is used specifically to delay the formation of wrinkles, strengthen the hair and improve the cartilage mass in joints. If we go running or cycling and repeatedly perform the same movements with our joints over a long period of time, collagen-strengthened muscles are said to wear out less quickly. Potentially, sports could be possible up to a ripe old age.
Manufacturers have now developed their own brands to market collagen peptides as an integral part of a healthy diet. Among many other products, certain cereal mixtures introduced in Japan that are supposed to slow down the aging process are now available internationally. This trend is set by countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 52 percent of the global market in 2019.
Collagen becomes a lifesaver in the operating room and in everyday life
When collagen is further processed into gelatin, it gives rise to other uses - for example, in the medical field in the form of hemostatic sponges. They are used during major operations, but also in dental surgery, to stem the flow of blood. For this purpose, they often remain in the body, which degrades them completely within three to four weeks during the wound healing process. According to a manufacturer, these sponges can absorb 40 to 50 times their weight in blood. The adhesive in the blood, fibrin, forms a mesh through them as quickly as possible and the blood clots.
However, the specialized gelatin sponges are not only in demand for large-scale operations. They can also provide relief in critical moments in everyday life: for example, when one of the children comes home from soccer practice crying with a bleeding knee, or when the husband uses the razor too vigorously in the morning under time pressure.