Collagen: What, When, for Who and Why
By now we’ve all seen some form of collagen in our local supermarkets, read about its miraculous skin benefits in our favorite magazines and heard our health enthusiast friends talking about how it has changed their entire supplement cabinet. What exactly is the wellness industry going on about? Is this just another fad, or are there some real benefits to adding this latest craze to your daily combo? For decades, collagen has been a hot topic in beauty forums and listed on high-end facial creams and anti-aging serums. It has mostly been offered as a topical solution or injected to target fine lines and wrinkles, but recently it has been marketed in powders and capsules. Is collagen only for those chasing eternal youth? If so, then why are the 20-somethings lining up for this in-demand supplement? How has it escaped the cosmetics department and landed next to your favorite protein powder? Do you need it? If so, when should you start taking it and why?
It’s common knowledge that collagen is good for your skin, but did you know that 30% of all the protein in your body is made up of collagen? Furthermore, 70-90% of the protein in your skin, hair, nails, gut lining, ligaments, tendons, fascia, bones and discs are made up of collagen protein. There’s actually more collagen in your bones than any other substance including calcium! There is a reason that people say collagen is the glue that holds our bodies together. It contains 19 amino acids, both essential and nonessential; both are essential to your health, and it is a source of protein that is dramatically lacking from the standard western diet. The primary sources of collagen are animal bones, skin and organs, so if you’re not eating fish skin, chicken gizzards and drinking bone broth two to three times a day, every day, then you are not getting enough collagen in your diet.
Sorry vegans and vegetarians, there is no animal free source of collagen. If you want to support the collagen production in your body, increase your vitamin C, manganese, copper, proline and foods high in anthocyanidins.
So, what are the actual benefits of ingesting collagen?
Studies are coming back left and right for the incredible benefits of collagen on skin elasticity, strength, fullness and hydration. You may not be able to target the wrinkles on your forehead, but over time the levels of collagen in your blood will increase and be distributed throughout your body. This will also help reduce cellulite dimples and sagging while increasing smoothness. As for visible aging, collagen will also strengthen and improve your hair and nails.
Collagen supplementation supports bone and joint health, rebuilding broken down tissue, strengthening tendons and ligaments and reducing pain and inflammation. This means a steady flow of collagen protein in your body keeps you moving easier for longer.
New studies are beginning to show improvement in gut health as the collagen helps to rebuild linings throughout the digestive tract by soothing the inflammation and providing the amino acids needed to replace and restore damaged cells.
As collagen is foundational in all tissues, it also helps build lean muscle which can increase your metabolism. By retaining muscle mass, you will also have increased energy, and the arginine will help repair your muscles after strenuous use faster for better growth.
The glycine in collagen is now being studied for its positive effects on detoxing the liver. By supporting the liver in ridding your body of harmful toxins, you will experience better blood flow which can lead to a healthier heart.
So, taking a daily collagen supplement or eating two to three natural sources each day is more than staying young and attractive. Collagen is fundamental to your overall health and longevity. Unfortunately, our bodies are designed to deteriorate and our lifestyles and diets are speeding up the process. Our ancestors ate every part of the animal they rounded up for dinner, but we rarely chow down on liver and fatty skin. This means our diets are not going to keep up with our bodies’ needs after the age of twenty. That’s right. We start losing collagen and slowing production around the age of 20 to 25, and decrease levels by 1-2% each year. This means we heal slower, get stiff, pain begins and aging takes hold.
So, who needs collagen? We all do.
At what age do we need to increase our collagen intake? Twenty.
So how do you know what type of collagen to take? There seems to be so many types, I, II, III …. X and sources: bovine, porcine and marine. Luckily, I, II and III make up the majority of the collagen in our bodies and are the most common in today’s powders and capsules. While marine sources have high bioavailability, they also have a higher allergy rating and mostly provide type I. Bovine is high in I and III and is best when combined with chicken which contains type II.
When you choose your collagen, be sure to opt for hydrolyzed or collagen peptides. This process breaks down the collagen into molecules small enough to pass through the gut barrier and enter the bloodstream so they are not digested in the stomach. Most collagen is unflavored and can be easily mixed in warm or cold beverages, and due to its popularity, there is now a collagen for every need. If you are looking for digestive support, choose one of the many flavors of Bone Broth Collagen. For extra joint support, choose Collagen with Turmeric for reducing inflammation. If you are following the Keto diet, grab Collagen with MCT powder. To rebuild your gut microbiome, add in Collagen with Probiotics and for youth and vitality try a morning smoothie with Collagen Skin Boost.
If you’ve already left your 20s and are just beginning collagen supplementation, it is recommended to do a 30-day collagen loading program. Choose your favorite source of collagen and take it three times a day, when you wake up, before lunch and before you go to bed. You can mix and match for variety and flavor or stick with unflavored in a simple glass of water. Wait till you see the incredible benefits!