They’re in most health and skincare products, but what are peptides exactly? Read on to find out whether they’re beneficial for you or not.
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In this article:
- What Are Peptides?
- What Are the Different Classes of Peptides?
- How Do Peptides Work?
- Why Are Peptides so Popular?
- Who Should Take Peptides?
- Where Can I Get Peptides?
- When Should I Take Peptides?
- What Is a Peptide Hormone?
- How Does the Copper Tripeptide Serum Work?
- Which Peptides Are Synthetic?
- What Is Peptide Therapy?
- What Are the Other Peptide Benefits?
What Are Peptides? This and Your Other Questions Answered
What Are Peptides?
Let’s start with the most common question: what are peptides? Peptides, in a basic and literal sense, are the molecules that make up proteins.
First, amino acids form a chain called amino peptide. Then, when those peptides link together, they become a protein.
They are present in every living organism, and peptides in humans are responsible for a variety of functions. They act as hormones, deliver messages from tissue to blood, regulate appetite, and more.
One of the most important proteins in your body is collagen. It lies just under your epidermis, in the dermis layer. The dermis layer contains all the nerves, fat, blood vessels, elastin, and collagen.
Collagen peptides are responsible for making your skin smooth, firm, and glowing. In your youth, you will produce collagen at a higher rate until you hit 20.
The rate slows down to less than 1% per year until you turn 40. Then the production stops completely.
Another handy use for these peppy little molecules is in bodybuilding. Peptide supplements are in high demand for those seeking to build body mass. They provide a building or anabolic effect on muscle mass.
What is the anabolic effect? This refers to the creation of complex metabolic pathways from simpler molecules.
What Are the Different Classes of Peptides?
Here are the various classes of peptides:
- Milk Peptides—Come from milk, a protein-rich source, and are formed when milk ferments, leading lactobacilli to create proteinases.
- Peptones—Formed by protein hydrolysis, which occurs when protein comes in contact with water. Peptone water is commonly used as growth media for bacteria in laboratories.
- Ribosomal—Formed upon mRNA translation and can be easily modified to become newer peptides.
- Non-ribosomal—Made without ribosomal machines and are usually created by microorganisms that inhabit the soil. Some can be used to revive soil contaminated by oil while others can be used as antibiotics.
- Peptide Fragments—Can be made both synthetically in a lab or in nature. They are primarily used for quantifying source proteins.
How Do Peptides Work?
While actual collagen molecules are too large to be able to penetrate the skin effectively, topical peptides have molecules small enough for absorption. The application of peptides on your skin may help boost the body’s own peptide production.
This doesn’t mean you should just douse yourself in a peptide solution or walk around with a thick slathering of peptide lotion. Peptides simply signal your body into healing injuries.
If your skin is prematurely aging, applying topical peptides could simply alert your body into producing more collagen and hyaluronic acid. This basically means you’re tricking your skin into thinking there’s an emergency.
What is hyaluronic acid? It is a substance that helps improve moisture retention.
There are many peptides out there specific to every skin need:
- Carrier Peptides—Deliver minerals to the skin for a collagen boost.
- Enzyme Inhibitor Peptides—Help slow down the natural collagen breakdown in the skin.
- Signal Peptides—Signal various parts of the skin to produce more proteins like elastin and collagen.
- Neurotransmitter Peptides—Act like botox by preventing chemicals to contract muscles, leading to smoother wrinkles.
In Muscle Repair
In the fitness industry, GHRP or growth hormone-releasing hexapeptide helps athletes recover more quickly after injuries.
Athletes are very prone to injury due to the nature of their lifestyle. Some of those injuries are even on purpose.
Bodybuilders, for example, focus on lightly tearing their muscle fibers in order to make them grow stronger and bigger.
The GHRP helps soft tissue or muscles heal faster to return to productivity after an injury. Athletes prefer GHRP as they don’t have the same side effects as anabolic steroids.
Here are some of the peptide treatments for fitness:
- TB-500—A synthetic peptide that heals muscles as well as eye and skin tissues.
- BPC-157—Helps facilitate the healing of injuries such as muscle tears and bone fractures.
- Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators—Stimulate the male hormone into having effects that mimic testosterone but without side effects. It can boost strength and bone density.
Why Are Peptides so Popular?
Peptides aren’t just popular in sports and skincare but also as an oral and/or intravenous medication. They help control many bodily functions such as:
- Insulin production
- Sugar metabolism
- Suppression of the chemicals that lead to organ rejection in transplant operations
Their small molecule size also makes them function as flag-wavers that signal the body into healing. After their job is done, they are simply recycled by the body and need no further detoxification.
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Who Should Take Peptides?
Peptides cover a broad range of uses and their particularly gentle nature makes them widely available and generally safe for anyone.
Bodybuilders, fitness buffs, those suffering joint disorders, and those concerned about prematurely aging skin are only a few of the types of people who could benefit from peptide use.
Vegetarians and vegans should watch out, though. Some peptide treatments and collagen products come from fish scales and animal bones.
Where Can I Get Peptides?
You can get peptides from skincare stores and pharmacies. There are several available topical skincare products out there containing peptides.
But you should always consider the formulation of the product, how stable the ingredients are, and how well it could work with your skin type. A consultation with your dermatologist could be helpful.
Dr. Seeds also has the Body Protective Complex+, a daily supplement for athletes and gym buffs.
When Should I Take Peptides?
Peptide skincare products act just like any skincare product and need no special application instructions. You simply apply it generously onto your freshly cleansed face twice daily, underneath your sunscreen and makeup.
To further boost your skin’s collagen production, you could also introduce more collagen sources into your routine. This can be by taking a good collagen supplement or consuming collagen-rich foods such as bone broth and tendon stews.
For those taking peptide treatments for fitness training should be more vigilant. Every product is different and has different dosage and intake schedules.
What Is a Peptide Hormone?
Peptide hormones are those with peptides or proteins as molecules. Compared to synthetic peptides, these hormones have longer amino acid chains.
They have a shorter half-life, which means it takes a faster time for the body to transform half of the substance to another form. The body is able to use these peptides for a variety of processes more quickly.
Some of the examples of peptide hormones are:
- Human growth hormone (HGH), which promotes bone density growth, metabolism of fats, and muscle synthesis
- Prolactin, which stimulates the mammary glands to produce breast milk during pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Insulin, which aids in regulating blood sugar levels by acting as a messenger for glucose to the cells
Some neuropeptides, which allow the parts of the brain to communicate, can also be peptide hormones. A good example is oxytocin, which the body produces when people bond socially or intimately.
How Does the Copper Tripeptide Serum Work?
Copper tripeptide is actually a naturally occurring compound in the body. You can find it in the saliva and urine.
It is a tripeptide (a peptide with three amino acids) with a strong affinity to copper. Together, studies showed, they help produce more collagen and glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid.
These days, you will find many skincare products with copper tripeptide serum as one of the primary ingredients. Some experts say it should help firm up the skin more effectively than other anti-aging products in the market.
In the end, always take these claims with caution. Consult with a dermatologist before you begin using something unfamiliar.
Which Peptides Are Synthetic?
Two of the most common types of synthetic peptides are acetyl hexapeptide and palmitoyl oligopeptide.
The chains of amino acids of acetyl hexapeptide can be of two types, depending on the source: acetyl hexapeptide-8 and acetyl hexapeptide-3. Both, though, come from a botulinum toxin substrate.
Palmitoyl oligopeptide is a combination of fatty acids such as palmitic acid and at least two amino acids. The fatty acids allow the peptides to penetrate deeper into the skin cells.
There are many types of oligopeptides, such as oligopeptide-1, but this is different from human oligopeptide-1 (EGF). The latter is a naturally occurring peptide with more than 50 amino acids a molecular weight of over 6,000 Dalton units.
What Is Peptide Therapy?
Peptide therapy refers to the use of peptides to perform specific actions or create particular results in the body. These can range from peptides in skincare to dietary supplements and peptide drugs to treat common health issues, such as weight loss and chronic inflammation.
Some synthesized hormones from peptides and proteins include Salmon Calcitonin. It is one of the ingredients for managing Paget’s disease, a condition wherein new bone slowly replaces the old one, leading to deformity.
What Are the Other Peptide Benefits?
Aside from delaying the appearance of sagging skin and stretch marks, these small protein molecules can also boost weight loss.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides including those found in dietary supplements and protein powder may reduce joint pain. In a 2015 research, the double-blind random-controlled study showed that they can improve rheumatoid arthritis by introducing anti-inflammatory properties.
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
In this age of technological breakthroughs, everybody is coming up with newer medications that claim to be better and better cures. Peptide treatments and skincare products are among these newer breakthroughs.
Though promising as they may seem, you should still consult with your primary healthcare provider or dermatologist before diving in.
Have you any experience using peptide therapy like skincare products and supplements? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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