Peptides are smaller versions of proteins. Many cosmetic and health products contain various peptides for many purposes, such as their potential anti-aging properties, anti-inflammatory properties, or muscle-building properties.
New research suggests that certain types of peptides may play a beneficial role in slowing the aging process, reducing inflammation and killing germs.
Humans can mix peptides with proteins. Both proteins and peptides are made up of amino acids, but peptides contain far fewer amino acids than proteins. Like proteins, peptides are found naturally in foods.
Due to the potential health benefits of peptides, many dietary supplements containing peptides obtained from foods or produced synthetically by manufacturers are available.
Some of the most popular peptides include collagen peptides for anti-aging and skin health, and creatine peptide supplements for building muscle and improving athletic performance.
In this article, we discuss the potential benefits and side effects of peptide supplements.
What are peptides?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids that typically contain 2 to 50 amino acids. Amino acids are also the building blocks of proteins, but there are more proteins.
Peptides are more easily absorbed by the body than protein because they are smaller and break down more than protein. They can penetrate the skin and intestines more easily, which helps them enter the bloodstream faster.
Researchers are more interested in bioactive peptides, or those that have a beneficial effect on the body and can have a positive effect on human health.
Different bioactive peptides have different properties. The effects they have on the body depend on the order of the amino acids they contain.
Some of the more commonly available peptide supplements are:
Collagen peptides that can promote skin health and reverse the effects of aging.
Creatine peptides that can build strength and muscle mass.
Some people may use other peptides and peptide hormones to increase athletic activity. However, many of them have been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, including follistatin, a peptide that increases muscle growth.
Areas of use and advantages
Research suggests that bioactive peptides may depend on the source:
- reduce high blood pressure
- dead microbes
- reduce inflammation
- prevent the formation of blood clots
- improve the immune system
- acts as an antioxidant
Humans often use peptides to achieve the following effects:
Slow down the aging process
Collagen is a protein in the skin, hair and nails. Collagen peptides break down collagen proteins which the body can more easily absorb. Using collagen peptides can improve skin health and slow down the aging process.
Some studies from trusted sources suggest that supplements containing collagen peptides can treat skin wrinkles. Other research suggests that these supplements may also improve skin elasticity and hydration.
Peptides can stimulate the production of melanin, a skin pigment that can improve skin protection against sun damage.
Topical anti-aging cosmetics may also contain peptides, which manufacturers claim can reduce wrinkles, help firm skin and increase blood flow.
Improve wound healing
Because collagen is an important part of healthy skin, collagen peptides can facilitate faster wound healing.
Bioactive peptides can also reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants, which can increase the body’s ability to heal.
Antimicrobial peptides are currently being studied which may also improve wound healing. Very high or very low levels of certain antimicrobial peptides can contribute to skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema.
Avoid age-related bone loss
Trusted Source animal research combines a moderate intake of collagen peptides with increased bone mass in growing rats that also trained.
The study could indicate that collagen peptides are a useful way to combat age-related bone loss. However, more research is needed, especially in humans.
Develop strength and muscle mass
Some Trusted Source research in older adults suggests that collagen peptide supplements may increase muscle mass and strength. In the study, participants combined supplement use with strength training.
Creatine peptides can also improve strength and help build muscle.
While fitness enthusiasts have been using creatine protein powder for many years, creatine peptides are growing in popularity.
These special peptides may be easier for the body to digest, meaning they may cause fewer digestive issues than creatine protein.
In healthy people, peptide supplements are unlikely to cause serious side effects because they are similar to peptides found in everyday foods.
Oral peptide supplements do not need to enter the bloodstream because the body can break them down into individual amino acids.
In a Trusted Source study where women took oral collagen peptide supplements for 8 weeks, researchers reported no side effects.
However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements the same way as drugs. Therefore, people should be careful when taking supplements.
Topical creams and ointments containing peptides can cause skin symptoms such as sore skin, rashes, and itching.
People should always buy from a reputable company and stop using it if there are any side effects.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking peptide supplements or using topical products that contain peptides.
Women who are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or living with a medical condition should avoid using peptides until they tell their doctor.
How to use
The timing and dosage of peptide supplementation will vary depending on the type and brand.
Always follow package directions when taking peptide supplements or using topical peptide creams or lotions. Never exceed the recommended serving size. If side effects occur, discontinue use and consult a physician.
Peptides are found naturally in protein-rich foods. There is no need to use peptide supplements or use local sources of peptides.
Some people may want to use collagen peptides to slow down the aging process. Others may use creatine peptides to build muscle and strength.
There is still little evidence that these products are effective, and much more research is needed to fully assess their effectiveness and safety.
Peptide research is in its infancy, and in the future, researchers may discover the health benefits of different types of peptides. Until then, people should be careful not to take supplements and discuss the potential benefits and risks with their doctor in advance.