Peptides 101: Your Guide to the Different Types of Peptides and What They Do

Have you ever wished you could convince your body to make more of a certain substance that would make you healthier? Maybe you want more collagen to strengthen your skin and hair or more growth hormone to keep you on those gains. You might wish there was some way to naturally strengthen your immune system without resorting to artificial treatments. Peptides can do all this and more, but not all peptides serve the same function. Read on to learn more about the different types of peptides and what each of them does in your body.

What Are Peptides?

Before we dive into the different types of peptides available, let’s talk some about what peptides are. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, proteins that we’ll discuss a little more in a moment. Usually, peptides include anywhere between two and fifty amino acids strung together in easy-to-digest molecules. 

Peptides have become popular in both medical and cosmetic realms in the past few years. They can have tremendous benefits for skin health, cardiac health, and a variety of other systems in your body. This is partly because, since they are so small, your body has an easier time breaking them down and absorbing them. 

What Are Amino Acids?

So let’s talk some about amino acids and how they work. Amino acids are compounds that make up a variety of substances in your body. In fact, amino acids make up your DNA itself. They help your body to do everything from building proteins (including your DNA) to creating hormones and neurotransmitters that keep your brain spinning.

There are three different types of amino acids in your body: essential, nonessential, and conditional. Your body can make the eleven nonessential amino acids it needs to function, but you have to get the other nine from your diet. There are also some amino acids that you only need during extraordinary circumstances, such as illness or stress. 

How Do They Work? 

A big part of the reason peptides work so well for your body is because of their small size. Protein molecules tend to be very large, which makes them harder for your body to break down. Think of them as the gigantic jawbreakers you used to get as a kid that would take you a week to work down to a reasonable size.

But peptides are much smaller and easier to digest, offering the same nutrients that the larger proteins do. These are the smaller jawbreakers you’d get out of the candy machine at your local arcade. You get the same experience and sugar rush, but it takes you much less time to break them down.

Benefits of Using Peptides

Because peptides are easier to digest, your body can absorb more of the nutrients they carry. This makes them excellent for providing you with some of the substances you may be running a little low on. This is especially effective for the nutrients you need to maintain beautiful, glowing skin.

Peptide skin care products can help you to improve your skin barrier, the protective barrier that defends your body from bacteria, pollution, and ultraviolet rays.

They can help to reduce wrinkles and make your skin more elastic by providing you with more collagen. Peptides can also help to ease inflammation and soothe acne breakouts. 

Oligopeptides 

There are several different ways to classify peptides, starting with how many amino acids make up the peptide chain. Peptides can come in several different chain lengths, ranging from two amino acids to as many as fifty.

The different lengths are divided into two overall categories: oligopeptides and polypeptides. 

Oligopeptides tend to be the shorter chain lengths of amino acids – usually fewer than twenty in a chain. These can be further divided out into dipeptides, tripeptides, and tetrapeptides, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

There is no specific classification for peptides with between five and twenty amino acids in the chain. 

Dipeptides 

If you’ve ever studied Greek, you may be able to guess that dipeptides are peptides with two amino acids in their chain. Examples of some common dipeptides include carnosine, anserine, and aspartame. That’s right, the sugar substitute we all know from our diet drinks is actually a peptide!

Carnosine is a dipeptide found naturally in your heart, gut, skin, muscles, kidneys, and brain. Some early studies indicate it may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease.

It could also be useful for brain ischemia, a dangerous condition in which you can’t get enough blood flow to your brain.

Tripeptides

Like dipeptides, tripeptides are a subclass of oligopeptides that take their name from the number of amino acids in their chains. In the case of tripeptides, they carry three amino acids in each chain. Common tripeptides include glutathione and ophthalmic acid, as well as leupeptin and melanostatin.

Glutathione is a natural antioxidant, which means it can help to protect your body from the destructive process of oxidation. Some studies indicate it may be useful in managing psoriasis, as well as reducing cell damage in fatty liver disease.

It may also reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s, improve insulin resistance in older adults, and fight against autoimmune disease.

Tetrapeptides

Tetrapeptides are the last of the specific oligopeptide subcategories and carry four amino acids in each of their chains. Tetrapeptides have a number of uses in the pharmacy world because of the way they bond with receptors in our bodies. Two of the most helpful tetrapeptides are vasopressin and oxytocin, which we’ll discuss more in a moment. 

There are many other peptides that fall under the oligopeptides category, ranging from chains of five amino acids to chains of nineteen amino acids. Decapeptides carry ten amino acids, and many helpful treatments fall into this category. 

Polypeptides

Polypeptides are a subclass of peptides that fall on the larger end of the scale. These peptides usually have between twenty and fifty amino acids in each of their chains and so are significantly more complex. Some examples of common polypeptides include insulin and human growth hormone.

There are thousands of different polypeptides, all of which serve a different purpose. Some peptides are antimicrobial, meaning they can kill bacteria and viruses that might challenge your immune system. Others have an impact on your pain centers, while still others impact how your blood vessels constrict and relax.

Vasopressin

Vasopressin is a polypeptide that occurs naturally in your hypothalamus, a small section of your brain. It is responsible for a few functions in your body, one of which is regulating the amount of water in the space around your cells. When you have too much water in these spaces, vasopressin tells your kidneys to start absorbing water. 

If you start taking or producing vasopressin in high quantities, it can start to act as a vasoconstrictor. This means it will cause your blood vessels to narrow and your blood pressure to rise. Drinking alcohol tends to inhibit vasopressin, which is why you have to go to the bathroom more when you’re drunk. 

Oxytocin 

You may have heard of oxytocin before; it’s one of the hormones our brains secrete when we’re in love. This hormone is also a peptide and comes from our pituitary gland, another section of the brain. Oxytocin contains nine amino acids, making it one of the oligopeptides that don’t fit into a specific category.

Oxytocin is released in your body when you have physical contact with another person. This can be from snuggling up with someone you love, kissing a partner, hugging a friend, cuddling a pet, or breastfeeding a child. In fact, it plays a huge role in childbirth and care, since it causes the uterus to contract during childbirth and triggers the milk “let down” reflex during breastfeeding.

Defensins

As you might guess from their name, defensins are peptides that play a role in your immune system.

These peptides usually contain between eighteen and forty-five amino acids, placing them in the polypeptide category. You can find defensins in a wide variety of plants and animals, not just in the human immune system. 

Defensins have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, depending on which specific defensin you’re looking at.

This may also help to improve the wound healing process since it prevents infection and promotes healthy recovery. Defensins can be useful for people fighting with weakened or suppressed immune systems. 

Angiotensins

Angiotensins are another peptide hormone that your body secretes naturally. Angiotensins are a little smaller than defensins and fall into the category of ogliotides. In fact, angiotensins can be very similar to vasopressin in their use and function in the human body. 

Like vasopressin, angiotensins help your body to regulate its blood pressure by constricting or relaxing blood vessels. If your blood pressure drops too low, angiotensins can tighten your blood vessels and pull it back up. They can also help to control how much water the kidneys take in to keep you at an appropriate level of hydration. 

Collagen 

One of the most popular peptide supplements on the market right now is collagen. Collagen is a protein that is essential to the composition of your skin, hair, and nails. But as we age, our bodies start producing less and less collagen until, at last, it stops producing collagen entirely and our faces fall into wrinkles. 

Collagen as a protein is too large to be absorbed through the skin, but collagen peptides are much smaller. A number of anti-aging products contain collagen peptides, which can be absorbed through the skin and can slow down signs of aging.

These products can combat fine lines and wrinkles, and taking a collagen supplement can help to strengthen your hair and nails. 

GHS Peptides

GHS peptides have been a hot topic among bodybuilders in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Growth hormone secretagogues can cause your body to produce and release human growth hormone.

HGH is responsible for much of your growth during puberty, as well as promoting muscle growth.

It’s incredibly important to talk to your doctor before beginning GHS peptides or any other supplement. HGH can be a powerful tool for bodybuilders, but it can also have some serious side effects. Your doctor will be able to advise you on how to use this supplement safely for your needs.

Safe Peptide Use 

Before you start using any of these peptides or any other supplement, always talk to your doctor first.

Peptides can come with side effects, and some can interfere with other medications you may be taking. Your doctor will be able to warn you about these interactions and advise you on the safest way to use peptides to meet your needs.

It’s also important that you always follow dosing recommendations on your peptide products. There is such thing as too much of a good thing, and overloading on peptides could increase your risk of serious side effects. Always start with the smallest recommended dose and then work up from there.

Discover Different Types of Peptides 

There are thousands of different types of peptides, all of which serve different purposes in your body.

Some aid your immune system, some regulate your water levels, some manage your blood pressure, and some help to promote youthful skin and hair. Always make sure you talk to your doctor before you begin using any peptides in order to make sure you get the best regimen for you.

If you’d like to learn more about peptides and other natural supplements, check out the rest of our site at Lyf Fit. We have information about peptides, supplements, vitamins, and more to keep you naturally healthy.

Check out our peptide articles and start discovering the benefits these protein pieces can have for you today.

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