I was referred to you by a friend for questions about collagen type IV or VI. She said you were the guru! Recent research articles have found these types are best for neuro/brain health (maybe prevention or stalling of Alzheimer’s) but after much looking, I have been unable to find products that specify these types. Is the research still premature? Do you have a product?Sharon
Really important questions, Sharon. Thank you for bringing up this topic of collagen and brain health!
Somewhat related, we have explored if collagen helps repair nerve damage. However, this is the first question we’ve fielded on specific neurological degeneration (such as Alzheimer’s).
It’s also an opportunity to discuss other types of collagen such as type IV and type VI.
Type IV and Type VI Collagen
In this video, Dr. Cate, M.D. shares her thoughts on uncommon types of collagen (video will start playing at 19:49).
Most people are pretty familiar with the 5 types of collagen in a multi collagen supplement, but if you do enough research you’ll certainly find other types and wonder why supplement companies (like us!) don’t utilize them.
The short answer, these other collagen types (such as type IV and type VI) are present in small amounts in the body and it’ll take a lot of money to isolate and get into a collagen supplement. Dr. Cate, M.D. thinks it’ll be a long time before a collagen supplement will include more than type I, II, III, V, & X.
See: The Best Collagen Supplement (5 Things to Consider)
Collagen and Brain Health 101
Let’s start with the basics. Collagen could be good for the brain!
At a high level, collagen could support brain health because collagen is pure protein.Dr. Cate
The brain needs a lot of protein and protein deficiency clearly contributes to brain degeneration generally and Alzheimer’s specifically.
But, collagen shouldn’t be the supplement of choice for brain health
Now, let’s address a point in Sharon’s question.
Regarding the possibility of a collagen supplement supporting brain health, Dr. Cate believes it’s still the wrong supplement.
The function of collagen supplements is to support connective tissue, and the brain has very little connective tissue.Dr. Cate
Can a certain type of collagen (e.g. type IV or VI) prevent neurological degeneration?
Bad news collagen lovers.
There is no type of collagen (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, X, etc. etc.) that’ll prevent neurological degeneration (such as Alzheimer’s). Yes, this is disappointing for us too considering we think collagen is awesome and we’re clearly big fans.
As mentioned above, collagen is the wrong supplement here since neurological degeneration is an issue of fatty acid oxidation and collagen supplements have little to no effect on that.
Even though the brain contains minute amounts of collagen called “basement membrane,” collagen issues in the brain are not the reason we develop dementia or any of the other common brain diseases.Dr. Cate
Little research has been done in this area of collagen and the brain, but here’s one from NCBI: Collagen for brain repair: therapeutic perspectives.
Ways to protect brain health (sans collagen)
If you want to protect your brain health, Dr. Cate wrote a chapter for you in her book Deep Nutrition. It’s called Brain Killer: Why vegetable oil is your brain’s worst enemy.
The next chapter after that is about sugar, but vegetable oil is truly the number one issue causing Alzheimer’s in the United States and around the world.