Peptides are small chemical compounds composed of short, flexible chains of about two or more amino acids. Peptides are the building blocks to protein because when they combine, they form the base of proteins. Peptides are easily confused with proteins; however, they are not the same. Their most defining difference is their size and structure. They both contain amino-acids, but proteins have a more significant amount of amino acids. Peptides contain less than 50 amino acids, while proteins contain more than 50 amino acids.
Peptides are easily absorbed in the body because of their small molecular structure. This means that peptides can better penetrate the skin, get broken down in the intestines, and be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Peptides occur in two forms:
- Naturally occurring - Peptides are usually found in both animal and plant protein-rich food such as eggs, meat, milk, fish, beans, wheat, and soy.
- Synthetic - This is the man-made version of peptides. Its base, however, still uses naturally occurring peptides.
Because peptides are naturally existing in all-living organisms as well as in food, healthy individuals don't need to take peptide supplements.
Also Known As
- Amino peptides
Peptides can be introduced into the body in many different ways. These include:
- Creams that are applied to the skin
- Transdermal patches
- Oral supplements
There are two major forms of supplement peptides used:
These are responsible for slowing down and reversing the aging process.
These are responsible for building muscle and aiding in weight loss.
One of the mass uses of both synthetic and naturally occurring peptides is in the cosmetic industry to produce anti-aging products. Skin is mostly made of collagen. Collagen is the building block of the skin, nails, and hair. As people age, collagen breaks down to form a short series of amino acids. A break down of collagen results in the appearance of unwanted characteristics such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Peptides have been proven to encourage collagen production. That is why peptides are a common ingredient in eye care products. These products include eye-cream serums and creams and under-eye masks, which help to reduce and improve the appearance of:
- Fine lines and wrinkles (crow’s feet)
- Dark circles (hyperpigmentation)
- Eye bags (puffiness)
Unlike other ingredients such as retinol, peptides are known to be mild on the skin while still being hydrating. This means that it is perfect for use on the skin around the eyes as this area has the thinnest and most sensitive skin when compared to the skin on other areas of the body. It also means that anyone, including people with sensitive skin, can use peptides.
Peptides are also used to:
- Build muscle and aid in weight loss
Peptides are used in the health and fitness industry as they have been proven to increase energy, build muscle, aid in weight loss, and enhance athletic ability. Due to their muscle-building properties, some sporting regulation authorities have banned the use of some forms of peptides during competitive competitions. The kind of peptide that is responsible for this is the creatine peptide.
- Lower hypertension
- Destroy microbes – Antimicrobial peptides have been proven to kill some bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even cancerous cells.
- Anti-inflammatory agent - Peptides can be used to reduce pain, redness, and swelling. They also help in improving the rate of wound healing.
- Prevent the formation of blood clots
- Improve immune function
- Slow down age-related bone loss
- Provide antioxidant function
Mode of Administration
The procedure to use peptides changes according to the form of peptide.
Follow the packaging or doctor’s instructions when using peptide treatments.
The dosage and timing differ depending on the type and brand being used. It is, therefore, important to refer to the packaging or the doctor’s instructions as well.
Never exceed the recommended dosage as adverse reactions may occur.
Potential Side Effects
Use of transdermal patches or cream peptides may result in:
- Irritability and rash at the application area
- Skin sensitivity
Use of injection peptides may result in:
- Joint pain
- Higher water retention
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss or gain
Discontinue the use of peptide treatment if any of these symptoms occur and in the case of any adverse reactions, immediately seek medical attention.
Using peptides with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) is not recommended. This is because AHAs reduce the efficiency of peptides.
Also, before starting any peptide treatment, it is paramount to discuss any potential interactions with a qualified medical professional.
Symptoms of Overdose
When applied to the skin or via transdermal patches, it is impossible to overdose. However, when ingested or injected into the body, symptoms of overdose may include:
- Mood changes
- Extreme hunger
If any of the above present, immediately seek medical attention.
This differs from one brand to another. Refer to the product’s packaging or the doctors’ instructions.